It is thought that the Dutch name Speculaas comes from the latin 'speculum' that means mirror.
Traditionally speculaas biscuits are the mirror image of the carved wooden moulds they are baked in.
Windmill shaped speculaas biscuits are known throughout the whole world, as are male or female speculaas figurines.
These days speculaas biscuits can take any shape or form. But you can do so much more with speculaas spice than just making biscuits.
Find out more about the delicious recipes you can make using vandotsch speculaas spice mix.
As far as I know there is no real Dutch tradition to make Christmas cakes. So, making a speculaas Christmas cake is a bit of an experiment for me.
Just like speculaas Christmas pudding you should start making speculaas Christmas cake at least six weeks before Christmas. You can already start now (October) with the first preparations.
Making a speculaas Christmas cake is done in four phases, including 'soak', 'bake', 'feed' and 'decorate' (optional), as follows:
1. The day before you bake the cake, the dried and candied fruits need soaking
2. The day you bake the cake, sprinkle it with vandotsch speculaas spice liqueuer and wrap it well
3. Thereafter, until one week before Christmas, and once a week extract the cake, punch it with a skewer, sprinkle it with vandotsch speculaas spice liqueur, and then re-pack it.
In the six to eight weeks when your cake 'rests', the taste becomes better. There are so many different ingredients in speculaas Christmas cake, so it takes time to arrive at a single harmonic taste.
4. (optional!) A week before Christmas is the most fun, decorating the Christmas cake. In the week before Christmas you can decorate your speculaas Christmas cake with marzipan which you drape as a blanket over the cake. The marzipan layer needs time to dry before it can be covered with fondant coat.Or, just before cutting your just sprinkle with icing sugar and decorate with dried fruit.
Here are the ingredients I used to make the vandotsch speculaas Christmas cake, including:
Makes 12 - 15 slices
- 250g mixed dried fruit
- 100g dried raisins and currants
- 75g dried cherries
- 75g dried cranberries
- zest and juice 1 orange
- zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- 125g unsalted butter , softened
- 125g light soft brown sugar
- 125g plain flour
- 100g ground almond
- 100g flaked almond
- 10g (2 tea spoons) of vandotsch speculaas spice mix
- 2 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
You need a springform pan or cake tin - diameter 24 cm
Day 1: Soak
- Make a pot of tea (I use a ginger infused teabag), pour out in a large bowl and add all the dried fruit, currants, raisins, cherries, and cranberries (hereinafter together called 'dried fruuit mixture'. Leave to soak overnight.
Day 2: Bake
- Wash the orange and lemon, dry and grate. Squeeze the whole orange for orange juice. Squeeze half a lemon.
Drain the the dried fruit mixture. Put the dried fruit mixture, orange and lemon zests and juice, vandotsch speculaas spice liqueuer, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the vandotsch speculaas spice mix at the last moment and mix well
- Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins
- Heat your oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.
- Line your cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment
- Add all the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip into your prepared cake tin and level the top with a spatula
- Wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside, and, on top – tie with a string to secure
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hours
- Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of vandotsch speculaas spice liqueur. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin
- LIne a cake tin with two layers of clingfilm - across. On top of the clingfilm add two pieces of baking parchment
- Once your cake has completely cooled peel off the baking parchment and lift it into your lined cake tin. Cover your cake with the parchment paper and wrap the clingfilm
- Store in a dark cupboard or fridge
3. Once a week: Infuse
- Once a week, while your cake remains in the cake tin, unwrap the top of your cake and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of vandotsch speculaas spice liqueur. Re-pack, as per above
- Don’t infuse the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.
4. a week before Christmas, or when you start eating the cake: Decorate
- During the week before Christmas unwrap the top of your cake and decorate it with marzipan which you drape as a blanket over the cake. The marzipan layer needs time to dry before it can be covered with fondant coat. Re-pack, as per above
Or . . .
- Just before cutting your vandotsch speculaas Christmas cake just sprinkle with icing sugar and decorate with dried fruit.
Enjoy - Merry Christmas!
How to make vandotsch speculaas Christmas cake