This recipe is my version of Speculoos, a traditional Belgian biscuit I created for the CoffeeSaturday Speculoos Bake-off.
I wanted to give these Speculoos a twist to add that personal touch; to aid me I had a recipe that caught my eye. It was from French chef Sophie-Anne Pic, and was the subject of a post on Diane’s Kitchen. The look of the biscuits reminded me of the Pain Aux Amandes by Belgian biscuit manufacturer Jules Destrooper. I love these biscuits but they’re more buttery and delicate than the caramelised taste of Speculoos. In her version Diane decided to replace the muscovado sugar with dark brown sugar, I decided to go for half and half to keep some of the light buttery flavour.
The next element was the spice mix, this was tricky as I could find no definitive version. There are lots of reference to ‘four spice’ mix, but the exact formulation change from recipe to recipe, I suspect there are as many versions as there are bakers. I took this as a chance to add my own stamp to the recipe. I made 20g of spice, made up of 5g of mixed spice (Coriander, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Nutmeg). Added to that was 5g equal parts white pepper, allspice, cardamon, and star anise. After baking the first batch it wasn’t right, some of my radical additions were too dominant, so I brought it back down to earth with the addition of 8g of cinnamon and 2g of cloves.
The final element, would overcome my lack of rolling pin skills. A recipe from the Mum of a Belgian workmate said to roll the dough into a sausage shape, freeze or refrigerate until solid and then slice into 3-5mm rounds to create marvellously delicate, but rustically round biscuits. It worked an absolute treat.
- 140g butter at room temperature
- 80g caster sugar
- 80g muscovado sugar
- 40g dark brown sugar
- 4g mixed spice mix (see above)
- 270g plain flour
- 3g bicarbonate of soda
- 2g salt
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 1-2 tbsp water
Cream the butter until light and creamy. Kitchenaids are very useful for this, sadly I only have one of those electric hand mixers – but it does the job. Add all the sugars and continue beating until you have a smooth and fluffy mix.
Mix in the flour, spice mix and bicarbonate of soda. Then add the beaten egg and water. I used a table knife to chop it together. It should be loosely bound, moist dough – like a rough paste.
Divide the dough into four and put each piece on some cling film and roll into a sausage about the thickness of your wrist. Place the dough sausages in the freezer to firm up for two hours or refrigerate overnight.
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
When the dough is firmed up, take a dough sausage out and slice into rounds of about 3-5mm depending on how thick you want your biscuits. Place the biscuits on a greased and lined baking sheet, leaving enough room for them to rise and expand.
Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes then let them cool on a drying rack.
Enjoy with a good cup of coffee.