Archive for January, 2013


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What a tasty treat from the Bread Baking Babes for January!  Elle, from Feeding My Ethusiasms chose fantans, a little single portion of deliciousness. |In the past I have made Flo Braker’s Lemon Pull Apart bread (to die for), which is really just a giant version of this so I was eager to give these individual babies a try. While the recipe was for jam filled fantans, I still has some leftover speculaas spices from the Gevulde Speculaas I made last week  that I knew would be perfect for something like this. I just mixed the potent spice blend with some sugar that made a spicy  cinnamon roll effect treat. With a slathering of cream cheese frosting these were outstanding!

I definitely want to try a savory version next time since I think these would be great for a side of soup but in the meantime I am trying desperately not to eat the entire pan these delicious buns. Bake On!

At least 4 hours ahead prepare the starter (I did this the night before):

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast

Stir together until well blended, cover with plastic wrap and set aside until later.

Dough Ingredients:BBBuddies_Jan_2013
2 – 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup non fat evaporated milk
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
¼ cup honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided

1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons speculaas spice mixture


Sift 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, the 1 cup of whole wheat bread flour, salt, and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. Stir until well blended. Set aside.

Placed evaporated milk, butter and honey into a saucepan and heat until butter is nearly melted. Remove from heat. Stir a few minutes to help mixture cool. Let cool to 110 degrees F.

Add the starter mixture to milk mixture, then add milk mixture to flour mixture; beat well. Add egg and vanilla; stir until blended. Add 1 cup all-purpose flour, stir until thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft, tacky dough.

In a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment,knead for 3 minutes or until dough is smooth and silky. If doing by hand, lightly flour your work surface and knead for about 5 minutes adding additional flour if needed, but only enough to keep it from sticking too much.) Place in oiled bowl, turn dough to lightly coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours. I tend to place my dough in my bottom oven with a bowl of steaming water along side of it. This provides a warm, moist environment for the dough to rise.DSC_1952

Dust your work surface with flour. Punch down the dough, then half it. Roll one half into a 12×12-inch square. Brush dough with half the melted butter. Score the bottom every two inches so you can cut even strips. Cut one two-inch wide strip off and set aside.DSC_1954

Spread the surface of the remaining rolled out dough with  1/2 of the speculaas sugar filling. Remember, don’t put the filling on the  1/6 plain strip. This will allow you to have a plain side of dough on each side of the roll touching the muffin cup. Cut into 5 equal strips, then stack the strips on top of each other with the plain strip on top. You will now have 6 layers.  Cut through the layers into 6 equal pieces, then place each into a buttered muffin cup, standing up so the layers are visible. Gently fan them open. Each will have six dough pieces with marmalade or other filling in between. Repeat with the remaining dough and the rest of the marmalade for the other six cups of the muffin tin.DSC_1955

Cover with a clean dish towel and let the rolls rise in a draft free spot at warm room temperature until the dough doubles, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. I actually covered mine with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for about 2 1/2 hours since I had to go out. I then just let them come to room tempeture and “wake up” for an hour before baking.

Place the rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 375° F/190° C.


Remove the towel and bake the rolls until they are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan ten minutes, then transfer to a rack and allow to cool for about another 20 minutes before serving. If desired, make a simple cream cheese glaze by mixing together cream cheese, confectioners sugar and cream until smooth  then drizzle over the fantails while still warm. Enjoy!


Please visit all of The Bread Baking Babes to check out their awesome work:

Bake My Day – Karen
Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
Life’s A Feast – Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
Lucullian Delights – Ilva
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
Paulchens Foodblog – Astrid
Provecho Peru – Gretchen

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The January Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Francijn from Koken in de Brouwerij (cooking in the brewery), all the way the Netherlands. She chose a traditional Dutch treat called Gevulde Speculaas (which I am told translates to stuffed spice). The speculaas is a spice blend (you know how cookie butter is all the rage? that is speculaas spice you are drooling over) that is unique like curry powder – every one can be different depending on who’s making it. Cinnamon is the major player here but the team consists of many including, nutmeg, ginger, mace, cardamom, white pepper, anise, clove, coriander… you get the picture. It’s warm, spicy and mellow all at the same time.  Anyway, the dough for this cake is infused with the heady mixture and then it is stuffed with almond paste. Seriously, doesn’t just the thought of almond paste get you salivating?DSC_1928  Overall, this was fun and easy to make. Wait, I take that back. I have been making my own almond paste exclusively for many years now  and almost always have some in the freezer.(Funny sidenote: I actually put 2 pounds of almond paste in my suitcase to bring to my mothers in New York just this past December!) It can seem scary at first but if you own a food processor than you too can make almond paste. This will be the hardest part of this recipe and it’s not hard at all!! Oh, I forgot to mention how cheap it is compared to store-bought. Once you make it yourself I doubt that you will ever buy store-bought after that . It is never quite as smooth as store-bought but unless you are modelling with it you won’t notice the difference and the flavor is so much better. One more thing on making almond paste – you must use blanched almonds = almonds without the skin on. There are two ways to go about this; boil up a pot of water and then add a few cups of almonds. Let them boil 3 or 4  minutes then drain. Once cool enough to handle, the skins will slide off easily. Then you need to let the almonds thoroughly (like for a few days) OR, you can be really lazy like me and buy the big giant bag of blanched, sliced almonds sold at Costco. These take virtually no time at all to process down to a fine powder. You do what works best for you. Believe I have skinned many pounds of almonds in my time.

Okay, so there are three elements to this challenge: mixing up some speculaas spice, making almond paste, and preparing the dough. The almond paste and the dough can be prepared a few days in advance if you like (this really gives the spices a chance to develop), but you can also whip this up in a jiffy as well. Bake On!

Speculaas Spice blend

This is the blend I made up but please feel free to make up your own. All spices are ground before starting

8 teaspoons cinnamonDSC_1937
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons dried ginger
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon clove
1 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon coriander

mix everything together and store in an airtight container.

Almond Paste

Francijns recipe: (I actually used this one for the cake so as to stay true to her recipe)

7/8 cup (210 ml)(125 gm)(4½ oz) raw almonds (or 1-1/3 cups (320 ml)(125 gm) (4½ oz) ground almonds)
5/8 cup (150 ml) (125 grams) (4½ oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) lemon zest

Grind the almonds for one or two minutes in a food processor, until you see nothing but very small pieces. (Or skip this step if you use ground almonds.)
Add the sugar, and grind for another one or two minutes. It must be very fine after this step.
Add the egg and let the food processor combine it – if it is powerful enough. Otherwise you will have to combine it with your fingers.

My usual recipe:

1  cup blanched almondsDSC_1922
1 cup confectioners (powdered sugar)
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon rose-water
dash almond extract

Place the almonds and a few tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of a large food processor and whirl until it is a fine powder. Add the remaining sugar and start the machine. Add the rose-water and extract. Drizzle in the light corn syrup until it comes together and forms a smooth ball.

You can store this in thee fridge for a few weeks or months in the freezer.

I use a scale to measure out equal parts blanched almonds and confectioners (powdered) sugar so I can make large or small amounts. I tend to eyeball the light corn syrup and add little by little until I get the consistency I want. (I told you this was easy…)


1 ¾ cups (250 gm) (9 oz) all-purpose (plain) flourDSC_1923
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
¾ cup (150 grams) (5-1/3 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
a pinch salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) speculaas spices
3/4 cup (1½ stick) (175 gm) (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened

Put flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl. Cut the butter in dices and add. Knead until smooth. Feel free to add a little milk if the dough is too dry. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for two hours. I used my standing mixer to do this and I did need to add a little less than 1/4 cup of milk to my dough. I then let it sit in the fridge overnight.

You can choose to make the dough a few days in advance, just like the almond paste, that will benefit the flavor.

Assembling and baking the Gevulde Speculaas

Ingredients: speculaas dough, almond paste, 1 large egg, and blanched almonds for decorating (optional)

shallow baking pan, 8×10 inch (20×26 cm) or, round with of diameter 10 inch (26 cm)

Grease the pan. Preheat the oven to  350°F/180°C/gas 4

Divide the dough into two portions.


Roll out both portions on a lightly floured surface, until they are exactly the same size as the baking pan. Put one of the layers in the pan and press it lightly to fill the bottom.

Lightly beat the egg with a teaspoon cold water and brush  1/3 of the egg over the dough in the pan.

Roll out the almond paste between two sheets of parchment, until it is exactly as big as the pan, and put it on the dough in the pan. (If you chose to make the paste soft, you can smear the paste instead of rolling it.) Press the paste lightly down to fit in the pan, and brush the next 1/3 of the egg over it. Place  the second layer of dough on top of the paste, press it lightly, and make as smooth as possible. Brush the last 1/3 of the egg over the dough. and decorate the pastry with the almonds, if you like. I sprinkled swedish pearl sugar down the center of my large one with just a few almonds slices down the sides. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely. Enjoy!


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