Gevulde Speculaas – Daring Bakers’ Challenge

by Kate on January 27, 2013

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Francijn of Koken in de Brouwerij was our January 2013 Daring Bakers’ Hostess and she challenged us to make the traditional Dutch pastry, Gevulde Speculaas from scratch! That includes making our own spice mix, almond paste and dough! Delicious! Knowing absolutely nothing about gevulde speculaas, I had a lot to learn. I’ve never eaten it nor have I ever made it so I was thankful when Francijn who happens to be a Dutch baker, told us a little about the history of Speculaas spices.

She said that “until 1800 cloves, mace and nutmeg were exclusively found on the Maluku Islands, in the East Indian Archipelago. That’s why these islands are called “the spice islands.” To make one’s fortune in Europe through the spice trade, one needed a monopoly on the European trade. Since 1500 the Portuguese owned that monopoly. The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, too, wanted to get rich from the spice trade, and established the Dutch East India Company around 1600, to join forces. Since 1660 the monopoly on spice trade was firmly in Dutch hands. In the Dutch Golden Age, roughly the 17th century, the republic got rich through this trade.

Gevulde Speculaas 1 - #cake #recipe @KDbabbles

When spices became commonly available in the 17th century, bakers’ guilds began to make their secret spice mixtures. A mixture that gloriously survived the ages is “speculaaskruiden” (speculaas spices). Speculaaskruiden contain at least cinnamon, cloves, mace and ginger, and these spices to taste: pepper, cardamom, coriander, anise seeds and nutmeg. The smell of speculaaskruiden is overwhelming, especially when you take the trouble to mix them yourself. The deliciously warm and woody aroma is a perfect fit for the chilly Dutch winter months.From the golden age onward, this spice mixture was used to bake a crisp, buttery biscuit: speculaas. For centuries it remained a luxury item, baked only in the holiday season, and often given as a present. Sometimes bakers made the dough three months in advance so that the flavor would permeate the dough.”

Gevulde Speculaas 3 - #cake #recipe @KDbabbles

Making this speculass stuffed with almond paste was an easy project that wasn’t very time-consuming either, with the exception of some chilling time. This cake is fragrant and flavorful. As it was baking, my home was permeated with the most amazing, warm spicy scent thanks to such a lovely mixture of spices. I loved having a taste of Dutch tradition in my own kitchen, baked by my own hands.



One Year Ago: Buttermilk Biscuits

Gevulde Speculaas

4 hours

Yield: 1 cake

Gevulde Speculaas

A traditional Dutch spice cake filled with almond paste.


    For Speculaas Spice:
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ground cinnamon *See instructions
  • For Almond Paste:
  • 1 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • For Dough:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons speculaas spices
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • For Assembly:
  • whole almonds without skins for decoration
  • 1 large egg


    Make the Speculaas Spice Mix:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together cloves, mace, ginger, white pepper, cardamom, coriander, anise and nutmeg. Weigh or measure the spices at this point. Add an equal amount of ground cinnamon. Whisk together. Set aside.
  2. Make the Almond Paste:
  3. In a food processor, pulse the ground almonds and granulated sugar for 1-2 minutes. Add the egg and lemon zest. Process until quite smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in refrigerator.
  4. Make the Dough:
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt and spices.
  6. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the flour mixture. Knead until a smooth dough forms. If too dry, add a bit of milk.
  7. Split the dough into two pieces. Form two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  8. Assemble:
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Spray a 10-inch round baking pan or an 8x10-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
  11. Mix the egg with 1 teaspoon of water.
  12. Roll each dough disk out to the size of your baking dish on a lightly floured surface. Fit one disk into the bottom of the baking dish.
  13. Spread 1/3 of the egg over the dough.
  14. Spread the almond paste over the dough and press down lightly.
  15. Spread 1/3 of the egg over the almond paste.
  16. Place the second dough layer on top of the almond paste and smooth as much as possible, pushing down lightly.
  17. Spread the last 1/3 egg mixture over the top and decorate with almonds.
  18. Bake for 40 minutes in preheated oven.
  19. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  20. Enjoy!


Recipe from Francjin Brouer

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Hezzi-D January 27, 2013 at 8:51 am

Wasn’t this amazing? I loved the homemade almond paste with the spiced pastry. I could have eaten the entire thing myself!


Kate January 28, 2013 at 10:44 pm

It truly was amazing! I was so surprised by how easy it was to make yet it created such a beautiful, fragrant and impressive cake. And I know that I’ll never buy almond paste again. So easy to make my own!


Rachel January 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

Thanks for this post, this recipe looks amazing. My Oma (I’m half dutch) would love this recipe but is unable to have dairy. Would substituting ghee, coconut oil or earth balance for the butter change the taste much do you think?


Kate January 28, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Since this is the first time I’ve made this I can’t say what substitution would work. In my best judgement, I would substitute earth’s balance since it’s a similar constancy to butter but honestly, I’m not sure. Sorry! But if you do make a variation with a dairy substitute, I would love to hear about the results so please come back and share.


Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet January 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I love how original this cake is, Kate! Love the top – so pretty!


Kate January 28, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Thank you Anna! It truly is a wonderful, fragrant and unique cake. It’s lovely!


Daniela January 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm

The cake looks so pretty and I love everything with almond paste!


Kate January 28, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Thank you Daniela!


Terra January 27, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I honestly have never heard of this lovely treat, thank you for sharing! I am an almond freak, so I am sure I would love it!!! It looks beautiful, Hugs, Terra


Kate January 28, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Thank you for your kind words, Terra! I’m so happy you like this. It is a unique treat that is fragrant and not overly sweet.


Kim January 28, 2013 at 1:18 am

Beautiful! I love the crackly look to the top of your speculaas. Nice job on the challenge!


Kate January 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Thank you Kim! I’m so glad you like it. Such a wonderful treat!


ChristineM January 28, 2013 at 6:12 pm

holy cannoli that looks spectacular!


Kate January 29, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Ha! That comment cracked me up Christine 🙂 And thank you! I’m so glad you like this. It’s so good and much easier to make than I anticipated!


Liz January 28, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I’ve made speculaas, yours is so much prettier! I love this mixture of spices…yum, yum!


Kate January 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Thank you Liz! The spice mixture was just intoxicating! I loved it too.


Francijn January 29, 2013 at 4:45 am

Your speculaas looks delicious, Kate! Well done!


Kate January 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Thank you Francijn! Your guidance and recipe were wonderful. I truly loved this challenge.


suzanne January 29, 2013 at 9:54 am

Amazingly beautiful, I have never made speculaas, it looks perfect and so delicious!


Kate January 29, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Thank you Suzanne!


Jennie @themessybakerblog January 30, 2013 at 10:22 am

Your description of the spices has me craving this beautiful dessert. It looks fabulous.


Kate February 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Thanks Jennie! It’s so lovely and fragrant. Not an overly sweet dessert and full of flavor.


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