Some steps to Dutch Kerstmis baking

About a month before Christmas you have to start planning for Dutch Christmas baking. A major element in Dutch Christmas baking is amandelspijs, or almond paste. This takes a few weeks to cure to its best flavor. Image

Amandelspijs

  • 200 grams finely ground almond
  • 200 grams refined sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg

Knead ingredients into a ball, wrap in a few layers of saran wrap and leave at the back of the refrigerator. It lasts for months.

Now that the almond paste has been made, the baker can continue on his/her day-to-day routine through the month of November  and early December. Dutch Sinterklaas is celebrated on December 5th. On this day the belief is that St. Klaas comes to Holland on his steam boat from Spain along with his white horse, schimmel (translation: mold) and his politically incorrect “footmen” descendant from Africa. Sinterklaas’ head footman is uncomfortably named Zwarte Piet (translation: Black Pete). If you’ve behaved well Sinterklaas will give you pepernoten, if you’re bad Zwarte Piet will whip you with a bundle of willow branches… I’m only the messenger. So, December 5th was an opportunity for religious Dutch people to exchange gifts during the advent season. It would have been sacrilege to combine exchanging gifts with the celebration of Christ’s birthday, hence the separate holiday. Today, more and more Dutch families celebrate Sinterklaas and the American version of Christmas. Because who doesn’t love gifts, right?

Pepernoten, loosely translated to be pepper nuts, are a Sinterklaas staple. But, in order to make that, you need to first make the spice mixture (speculaas kruidenwhich is the basis of this recipe.

Speculaas KruidenImage

  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • pinch of anise
  • pinch of coriander

I generally double or triple this recipe so that it can last me the whole season.

Black (and White) Pete contemplating eating spices

Black (and White) Pete contemplating eating spices

Pepernoten

  • 100g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp speculaas kruiden
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g cold butter, cubed
  • 60ml milk

Combine dry ingredients. Mix well. Add butter. Knead for 5 minutes. Add milk and continue kneading. When smooth wrap in saran and leave for two hours. This is when the speculaas spices work their magic in the dough. After two hours heat oven to 350F. Roll dough into marble sized balls. Bake for 15 minutes, lightly press down on each pepernoot and allow to bake for an additional 5 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

A real Dutch Christmas baked good is called gevulde koek (translation: filled cake– very creative, I know). Since you’ve already done the preliminary preparations for this with making the almond paste and the spices, this recipe is relatively easy.

Gevulde KoekImage

  • 250g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g brown caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp speculaas spices
  • pinch of salt
  • 175g butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg white
  • almond paste

Sift flour and baking powder. Add sugar, salt, and spice. Fold in butter and milk. Knead quickly until dough becomes smooth. Knead into a ball. Wrap in saran leave in the fridge overnight so that the flavor of the spices can be absorbed. The next morning, with a rolling pin, roll dough flat into a 1cm thick square. Cut square in half.

Don't let the yolk fool you, you need to spread this layer with egg white.

Don’t let the yolk fool you, you need to spread this layer with egg white.

Lay first half of dough in a buttered and floured loaf pan. Ensure that there is a 1 cm edge. Using a culinary brush, spread on a thin layer of egg white. Using your keen inferencing skills, eyeball an appropriate amount of almond paste. I cut the 400g ball in half, so roughly 200g. With your trusty rolling pin roll paste into a rectangle about the size of your pan. Place paste on top of your speculaas layer. Spread a thin layer of egg white atop this layer as well. Now take you second half of your speculaas rectangle, lay this on top of the almond paste- see, you’re getting it! Guess what, that’s right, spread a thin layer of egg white on top of this final layer. Press peeled, or unpeeled, whole almonds in a pattern of your choice into the top layer. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes. Cool and Enjoy!

Baked Gevulde Speculaas

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About hannahslomp

I have an interest in arts and culture wherever my bicycle takes me. My travels have allowed me to realize that there is ingenuity wherever you go, you just have to go off the beaten municipal bike path.
This entry was posted in Culture, Food and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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