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 dishes you can make using vandotsch speculaas spice mix.
The wooden windmill mold is the old-fashioned cake form that the (home) baker in The Netherlands uses in order to make speculaas biscuits shaped as a windmill. Of course, these days all this has been mechanised.
It is thought that the Dutch name speculaas (speculoos - Flemish, Spekulatius - German) comes from the Latin speculum, which means mirror, as speculaas biscuits are the mirror image of the carved wooden molds they are shaped in.
In the Netherlands, most speculaas biscuits are made from white (wheat) flour, brown sugar, butter and upto nine different spices. Some varieties use some almond flour and have slivered almonds embedded. Instead, Belgian speculoos biscuits are made with candy syrup, caramelised sugar and cinnamon (cassia!).
Traditionally speculaas biscuits comes in the form of windmill shaped biscuits or male or female figurines, but these days they can take many shapes.
Windmills: A bit of history . . .
Windmills – wind molens - have been very important to The Netherlands, in particular in shaping the country as it is now. From the fourteenth century onwards windmills were used in The Netherlands to drain wetlands into land.
In the late Middle Ages oriental spices are starting to find their way into Western Europe, but the trade routes are long and uncertain. The supply remains limited and therefore many spices were extremely expensive. Until the Dutch, at the end of the sixteenth century, find the sea route to the East and take over the spice trade from the Portuguese and Spaniards.
In 1602 the Dutch founded the East India Company. Ship loads full of pepper, cinnamon, cloves, mace and nutmeg started to find their way to the Netherlands. To process the spices, ready for consumption, spice windmills were built mainly near ports where the East and later the West India Companies landed their spice cargoes.
The Zaanse Schans is an outdoor visitor attraction with well-preserved historic windmills and houses, built in the typical Dutch wooden architectural style, relocated from all over the Zaanstreek (area) piece by piece since 1961. They date back to the 16th and 18th centuries.
Windmill molds: a novel gift idea
Windmill molds: a novel gift idea for people nostalgic for Dutch biscuits (and parents wanting to bake with their children to pass on the tradition).
The vandotsch speculaas windmill molds are made from untreated European beech wood grown in plantations, rather than logged from a primeval forest. The molds have been carved using traditional methods in an artisan environment in The Netherlands.
For best results, the windmill molds need oiling. Before your first use clean your mold with a soft dry cloth (please avoid getting the mold wet) and then oil them with plenty of vegetable oil – let dry for two hours. Tghan oil them some more and let dry for another two hours. At the end, the surface needs to look softly shiny, like satin. Then, put a tiny bit of flour on the dough surface with a small brush.
One more thing . . . whatever you do with your windmill molds, please, don't bake your speculaas biscuits in them. Instead, the mold acts more like a biscuit cutter. You put your vandotsch speculaas spice infused dough into the mold to get it into the shape of the windmill, then you remove it and bake the speculaas dough.
The Stelling molen
A Stelling molen is a windmill usually located in urban areas built on top of a pedestal to raise it above the surrounding buildings.
In order to capture enough wind the wings and tail of a Stelling molen are located halfway up. To operate the mill it has a gallery, running around the mill. This allows the miller to rotate the sails in such a way so that they are directed 'towards the wind’.
A Stelling molen has a sizable space downstairs, originally, allowing a horse and carriage to be able to drive in, without being in danger to be hit by the rotating blades. Stelling mills were usually flour mills, though spices were often milled in these also.
How easy is it to make vandotsch speculaas biscuits using our molds?
Windmill molds for sale
We have a limited number of windmill molds for sale, including a smaller version and a larger version.
Both versions include a pack of vandotsch speculaas spices, instructions what to do with the mold, how to make the dough and how to make the biscuits.
The vandotsch speculaas windmill mold packs make a perfect gift for young and old to enjoy making speculaas biscuits the ‘old-fashion’ way.
Wooden mold containing the mirror image of a 'Stelling' windmill -
real size: 15 x 9cm
Wooden mold containing a relief of a Dutch windmill - real size: 7 x 4cm
De Gooyer windmill in Amsterdam is great
example of a Stelling molen.
real size: 9 x 4cm
Man mold - real size: 9 x 4cm