I though I was open minded when it comes to food since I like experimenting and trying new things. Of course there are certain ingredients and combinations that I am not very keen on or dislike them together... (I know that I am taking a big risk here, but I will say it any way - coriander is on the top of my list). What I didn't realise until recently is that I inclined to stereotype cuisines thinking that some of them do not have very much to offer. A huge loss for the old me, and an even bigger gain for the new really open minded me.
Before I went to Amsterdam, I made Dutch pancakes, as they looked really fun to do, but that was about it. I was looking forward to visiting museums and enjoying the outdoor life on boats and bicycles. The food took me completely by surprise.. everything was .. delicious .
with a small balcony over the water at the back
To honour my new gastronomic travel destination, here is one classic - Gevulde Spaculaas, recipe by the Dutch Daring baker, followed by Gevulde Koek (stuffed cookie) in my next post.
Speculaas mix: at least 1 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of mace, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, then add to your own taste (add more or leave out completely) any of the following 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper, 1/2 ts cardamom, 1/2 ts coriander, 1/2 ts anise, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg. Weight the amount of spices and add an equal amount of cinnamon. The spice mixture could be stored in an airtight container for a long time, so you can double the above amount.
125 g ground almonds
125 g sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
250 g plain flour
5 g baking powder
150 g brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 table spoons speculaas spices
175 g unsalted butter
Egg for eggwash
Paste: In a food processor whiz the almonds and sugar, add the egg and lemon zest and combine by using a pulsing motion. It can be also done by hand in a bowl.Store the almond paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The flavour gets better as days pass by, but it is not wise to store the paste for too long, as it contains raw egg. The paste can also be kept in the freezer.
Dough: mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl.Add the diced butter, then knead until smooth. Add a bit of milk if the dough is too dry.
Wrap in cling foil and put in the refrigerator for at least two hours. It also, like the paste ,benefits from longer resting
Prepare the baking pan, 20 x 26 cm or round of 26 cm
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas 4
Divide the dough into two portions then roll out both portions on a lightly floured surface until they are exactly as big 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 of cold water and spread 1/3 of the egg over the dough in the pan.
Roll out the almond paste between two sheets of cling foil, until it matches the pan size and lay it over the dough. Press the paste lightly down to fit in the pan, and spread the next 1/3 of the egg over it. Now put the second layer of dough on top of the paste, press it lightly, and make as smooth as possible. Spread the last 1/3 of the egg over the dough. Press whole blanched almonds on the top to decorate. Bake for 40 minutes, let to cool completely in the pan, then cut.Wrap the stuffed speculaas in cling foil, after it has cooled completely and store for a few days at a room temperature.