Thursday, December 5, 2013

Speculaas or St Nick's biscuits (New Tricks 20/26)

Have you ever had speculaas or Dutch windmill biscuits? They're traditionally served on the Eve of Saint Nicholas' feast day (happy St Nicholas's Eve, folks) and so appear in the shops round about this time of year. I'm a fan but I've never been able to make them myself - they've been doughy or bland no matter how much spice I've added. I recently stole borrowed a recipe from a friend whose dad was a Dutch baker. And success! Okay, my version aren't beautifully pressed with a speculaas mould - there's no windmills or Sinterklaas - but they taste right; the texture's right.

Turns out the secret's in the spice... and a weird combination of milk and bicarb soda.

The spice mix

2tsp each:
ground cinnamon

1tsp each:
ground ginger
ground white pepper (as you can see above though, mine's a peppercorn mix)

The ingredients

2 1/2 cups (400g) self-raising flour
2 1/2 tblsp spice mix
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (110g) brown sugar
250g butter
1/3 (80ml) cup milk
1/2 tsp bicarb soda

1. Combine the flour, spice mix and a pinch of salt.
2. Stir in the sugars.
3. Add the butter and rub it into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcumbs, like you do with scones. This bit seems like a lot of faffing about but go with it. Worked for me. 
4. In another bowl/cup combine the milk and bicarb soda and then stir that into the flour and butter mixture.
5. Knead to form a dough.
6. Wrap in cling film and stick in the fridge to chill for at least 1/2 an hour.

7. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (celcius).
8. Roll out the dough to approx 5mm and then use a biscuit cutter (or press into a speculaas mould if you have one).
9. Carefully arrange the cutout shapes onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. They're really quite fragile - all that butter makes the dough super soft when you've been rolling it out)
10. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The biscuits are quite brown so you'll need to keep an eye out for them going really brown.
11. Cool on a rack and try not to eat too many.


  1. Yum. I'm a Dutchie, and was recently given a lovely wooden speculaas mold by my mum. My 6-year old is an enthusiastic dough-roller, so I'm looking forward to giving these a crack soon!

    1. Some of those moulds are just gorgeous. Not sure I have the patience for getting the dough from mould to baking sheet though. Might require a lot of practice.


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