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.


Jeannie said...

Oh my heavens, I have eaten this delightful bread/coffee cake. What a wonderful way to remember your Mother. Speeculaas. I'm writing the recipe down.

We share one other thing, we both lost our Mothers on almost the same day. I had no idea. Mine died in 2003 though. Now we can both make this and remember them both. Thank You.

Booklady said...

What a special memory of your mom. The photo looks love almost too lovely to eat. I have to add this one to the must try list.

Beverly aka Bookwoman

Dru said...

Thanks for sharing a memory of your mom with us.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Thank you for sharing the memory and the recipe.

~ Babs ~ said...

Thank you for sharing the recipe I am making a copy now and the wonderful memory of your mom. A nice post!

Harbinger said...

I have never heard of this bread. It sounds wonderful and I will be trying the recipe out this weekend.

Thanks for sharing the recipe and take you so much more for sharing a little of your mother's story.

Unknown said...


What a beautiful memory to share, and boy does your mom sound like she was wayyy beyond amazing!

Your description of this little bit of yummy transported me right into your childhood kitchen.

Thanks bunches for sharing!

Sexy Sassy Smart The Best of Holiday Wishes & Memories To You and Yours --- D. D. Scott

Daryl Wood Gerber a.k.a. Avery Aames said...

Lovely memory, lovely recipe.
Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

Kimber Leszczuk. said...

What a wonderful way to honor her memory!

I will definitely have to try this recipe - it sounds awesome - I love almonds and cinnamon. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

signlady217 said...

This sounds so yummy and not too hard. I will have to try it out sometime. I only bake for the holidays, so it will be next year because I'm done for this one. And what a lovely way to remember and honor your mom.

Ellery Adams said...

The best dishes stem from warm, rich memories such as this one. Thank you, Lucy!

Linda McDonald said...

Thank you for sharing the memory of your mom. She sounded like she had quite the adventurous spirit. The recipe sounds very good. I'll be adding it to my recipe book. Thank you.

Aurian said...

Yes, this is indeed still a winter treat here in Holland. I have not bought it yet at the bakery, but certainly will later on. Like all the Sinterklaas traditional goodies, they appear in the stores sooner and sooner. Do you also have a recipe for "kruidnootjes" or "pepernoten"?

Anonymous said...

Aurian, I don't have a recipe for pepernoten, but we always used to get them from the Dutch store. I love them!

Paulette said...

What a meaningful way to remember your mother - I can imagine that just the smell of speculaas would bring back memories of her. The Dutch sure can cook!
I cannot bake this recipe because of nut allergies in the house, but I'm thinking of swinging by the one store in town that carries my childhood brand of store-bought speculaas cookies.

Tiffany0227 said...

I know this is a way late comment but I felt compelled seeing how I am new to the cozy chicks blog.

I think that is very admirable of you to share such a gift with everyone that was once your mother's. I am also very sorry for your loss. Be Blessed