Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spicy Memories

By Lucy Arlington

I dedicate this month’s blog to my mother, who died two years ago on November 28th. She was an amazing woman, emigrating from Holland to Canada on her own with her six children, raising them to be strong and successful adults. She was determined and feisty, creative and energetic.

Memories of my mother are often triggered by food, as she was an adventurous cook and an amazing baker who loved creating in the kitchen. She inspired that same passion in me and my siblings.

This morning I pulled a recipe out of my collection, written in her hand, and there she was, sitting on my shoulder as I measured and mixed. The spicy aroma wafting out of the oven transported me back to her kitchen.

I’m sharing that recipe with you today. Gevulde speeculaas is traditionally a treat for Sinterklaas feest, the feast of St. Nicholas on December fifth. My mother baked it for special occasions year round. The speeculaas part is a spicy shortbread, flavoured with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. And the gevulde part, literally translated as ‘filled,’ refers to the sweet almond paste filling.

I hope you enjoy the recipe. I’m going to go have a piece with a cup of tea, and think about my mother.


1½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup cold butter
¼ cup milk
¼ tsp salt

Speculaas Spices:
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1½ tsp ground cloves
1½ tsp nutmeg

Almond Filling
¾ cup ground almonds
½ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
½ tsp grated lemon rind

1. Make Filling: Blend together ground almonds, sugar, 2 Tbsp egg and lemon rind. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, and baking powder and salt. Stir in brown sugar.
3. Using pastry blender cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in enough milk just until ball forms. Knead two or three times until dough holds together.
4. Divide dough in half. Press one half into bottom of 8-inch pan. With wet fingers spread almond filling over dough to within ¼-inch of sides. Roll out remaining dough between wax paper. Invert onto almond paste.
5. Brush with remaining egg and press whole almonds onto top.
6. Bake in 350ºF oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on rack.
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