Croissants and Speculaas

Yesterday was gluten free day but I did also start a batch of croissants. I’ve made them before and they were a resounding success and, honestly, I don’t know why I don’t make them more often. They do take time but it isn’t a solid block of time.

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The first step is making the dough and refrigerating it overnight (or several hours). Easy – the mixer does all the work; I just throw in the ingredients. The second step is rolling the dough with enveloped inside it – three times. The dough needs to rest between rolling sessions and, after the third time, the dough is, once again, refrigerated overnight. The third step is the final rolling and shaping of the croissants, then baking.

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Even though I’ve found a recipe for gluten free croissants, I’m not sure I want to go there yet. And, besides that, I think John’s feeling a little bit of gluten free overload.

Also in the plans for today is a batch of Speculaas, a beautifully spiced cookie from Holland. You may have seen windmill cookies in your favourite grocery store; well, those are speculaas and when you bake them yourself, your house smells amazing and your taste buds sing. They’re nothing like the store bought cookies. I won’t be rolling them out and using cookie cutters; I’ve had my eye on a cookie stamp and yesterday, I bought one. I’ll be rolling the dough into balls and using my lovely cookie stamp.

The recipe I’m using comes from a Dutch cookbook, given to my mother by one of my cousins. Mom’s on her own and doesn’t do much in the way of baking anymore and she knows I can read Dutch so I became the proud owner of this cookbook. I’ve made a few things out of it already and they’ve all turned out great. I have had to resort to Google Translate once or twice but I’ve managed pretty well.

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There’s just one measurement in the recipe that has me bemused. In Dutch, the recipe calls for “2 mespunten” of a couple of spices. Translated, that’s two “knife points”; how much is a knife point? The recipe also calls for Almond Essence; it’s not something most of us are familiar with but Dr. Oetker makes essences in tiny tubes. They’re much more potent than our North American flavourings. I just happen to have some, so that’s what I’ll be using. If you don’t, simply use 1 tsp. almond flavouring. Another substitution I’ll be making is that I’ll be using a Speculaas Spice Mix rather than the cardamon, clove, and cinnamon called for in the recipe. If you’d like to do the same, I have a recipe for the mix here.

I should add that they’re not as spicy as some I’ve had but they’re pretty darned tasty.

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Here’s the recipe, as written (translated); my measurements are in parentheses.

Speculaas (Spiced Cookies)

[printable]

  • 500 grams flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 drops almond essence (or 1 tsp almond flavouring)
  • 2 knife points ground cardamon (1 tsp)
  • 2 knife points ground cloves (1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 grams soft butter
  • 100 grams ground almonds or hazelnuts

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of your stand mixer, at low speed until mixed, then at high speed until you have a smooth dough. If the dough is too soft to work with, refrigerate until it’s firm enough to roll. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes or use the dough in a speculaas mold. Bake at 170-200ºC (350ºF) for 10 minutes or until cookies are set.

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