Friday, March 20, 2009

Speculaas (Sugar High Friday #53)

I got a message from Scrumptious, directing me to the next round of Sugar High Friday. For those who don't understand what I am talking about: Sugar High Friday is a blog event started by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess, with a new theme and host each month. It's all about desserts ! The theme this month is very original: The Test of Time - Desserts over a century old.

At first, I didn't have any inspiration. But then lightning struck me! Speculaas! It's a cookie, traditionaly baked for St Nicolas' Eve but nowadays available all year round, that is mostly eaten in Belgium and the Nederlands. It's very popular here. Wikipedia told me that speculaas is also known as "Dutch Windmill Cookies", if that rings a bell to you.

That traditional cookie must be over a century old. And a little research told me I was right. A baker from Hasselt (Belgium), Antonie Deplée, acquired a license for "Hasseltse Speculaas" on January 13th, 1870! He called it:
« une espèce de pain d'amandes connu sous le nom de spéculation » - A kind of almond 'bread' known under the name spéculation.

The cookies are thin, slightly browned and very crispy, but what makes them special, is the mixed spices that are used. It's a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white peper. Real speculaas have images or figures stamped on the front side. However, I have no such stamp, so my cookies are very plain.

I like speculaas very, very much. So you can imagine my relief when I found a relatively good recipe for a gluten-free version. It's not the same, but it tastes quite like it, and it's good and yummy too.

So, now on the recipe:
Gluten-free Speculaas

• 100g buckweat flour
• 100g rice flour
• 100g good quality butter
• 125g brown sugar
• 8g vanilla sugar
• a pinch of salt
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 Tbsp mixed speculaas spices
(to mix your own spices: 30g ground cinnamon, 10g ground cloves, 10g ground nutmeg, 5g ground white pepper, 5g ground anise seed, 5g ground coriander seed)
Simply mix all the ingrediënts and knead them into a ball. Put it away in the fridge for at least an hour.
Take a bit of the dough and form a small ball (rolling between your hands). Put the ball on a baking plate (covered with baking paper) and press it flat. You can also make figures, or basically anything you want.
Put the plate with the cookies in a preheated oven (175°C) and bake them for about 10min. They'll be soft when you take them out of the oven, but they'll get hard when they cool. So don't worry. Let the cookies cool until they are firm enough to handle. Put them on a cooling rack and let cool completely.

It's strange to bake these on the First Day of Spring, it's more of an "Autumn-cookie" :-)


Scrumptious said...

Hurray for a Gluten Free Sugar High Friday! This is amazing! I am so delighted to have now learned how to make GF speculaas!

What a lovely SHF entry, thank you! The history, the photography, and of course the great recipe.

Check back with my blog on March 27th to see the whole round-up!

Jamie said...

Wonderful! They are beautiful. We love the spicy flavor of Speculaas, and I can even make your recipe for my gluten-allergic friend!

Anonymous said...

These look so yummy!