Remember my speculaas mold?
Before we go any further, I have no idea about the singular and the plural of this word nor the difference between the words speculaas, speculaasjes and speculaasje. This is how one source on the web explained it:
The word comes from the Latin “speculum”, mirror image, referring to the mold used in producing them. The plural of “speculum” is “specula”, which in “more plural” is “speculaas”, which made “smaller” is “speculaasje”, which in plural is “speculaasjes”, so the word is three times plural. And that’s proper Dutch.
There you go!! Sounds like double-Dutch to me.
A few weeks ago, I made my first lot of speculaas with it. I used the same recipe as in my original post. The little recipe book Gene sent with my mold had a number of hints:
- keep the dough cold
- sprinkle the mold with icing sugar
- after molding, let the biscuits stand awhile before baking them
- margarine works better than butter
I followed all the hints except that I used butter not margarine.
The head photo is a picture of my mold in action. It worked a treat.
I put some icing sugar in a tea strainer and then sprinkled it on the mold. I kept the dough in the fridge and only took out what I needed for each biscuit. I pushed the dough into the mold and then knocked it out and cut around the edges. I left the biscuits overnight and baked them next morning.
But the baked biscuits left a bit to be desired. They puffed up and spread out somewhat, losing most of the windmill impression. In essence, I think I made the biscuits too thick and I wondered about that hint to use margarine.
When that batch was finished, I decided to try again. This time, I followed the advice to go with margarine. I bought my first tub of margarine in 30 years.
I was also determined to make the speculaas thinner. WeekendBakery suggested using a sharp knife to cut off the excess dough. I couldn’t do that as my ‘door’ and ‘windows’ were the depth of the mold. If the biscuits were only the depth of the mold, they would have holes where the door and windows should be. Also, when I tried to slice off the excess, the knife ripped the dough out of the mold.
Maus, the handiperson of all handipersons, came up with the idea of making a cut-out of the mold to give me a bit of extra depth and to guide how thick I should make the dough. She made the cut-out from a mouse pad. I clipped it onto the mold before I filled it.
I filled my mold and … for some reason … the bloody dough would not come out. I tapped and I tapped and I bloody well tapped.
The dough felt softer than my first batch so I added a bit more flour.
I tapped and tapped some more …
WeekendBakery suggested using rice flour (I was using icing sugar). I tried that, and even semolina flour, but the dough would not move. In the end, after several hours and only removing 2 intact, I decided to leave the dough in the fridge and go to bed. As the pictures below show, I had made a bloody mess in the process.
The next morning, I gritted my teeth and decided to give it another go. I filled the mold, gave it a whack and out plonked a perfectly formed speculaas. I could not believe it! I proceeded to mold the whole batch of dough.
My only explanation is that the dough needs to be really cold and it was not cold enough the night before.
WeekendBakery suggested that if you put the biscuits in the fridge to firm up before baking, they will hold their shape better – so I did.
- Do not start trying to mold your speculaas until your dough is really cold.
- Have your dough slightly on the dry side.
- Use margarine rather than butter.
- Don’t make your speculaas too thick. If you do, they will not be crunchy all the way through. It may also be the reason why my first batch spread and puffed up and lost a lot of the mold impression.
- Dust your mold liberally with either icing sugar or rice flour – both worked for me.
- Roll your dough into the mold with a small rolling-pin. (I used the handle of a wooden spoon.) That way, you can roll off excess dough.
- Cook them at 170°C – don’t let them brown too much.
I was so happy that they worked out because I wanted to give some to my cousin, Gerrie, who was born in Holland. I am sure it is a long time since he had home-made speculaas. I hope he enjoys these small gifts.