Friday, 12 December 2014

A taste of Christmas

No, not made by me!
Have you ever wondered why we make gingerbread men and houses for Christmas? Why not eat them all year round? They do taste good enough to do so. Yet, most of us don't. So, what is so special? 

The ingredients to make gingerbread men are ordinary flour, butter and ginger and other spices. And those last two ingredients make the gingerbread men so special. Because they were expensive. They were shipped from far away, it took a long time and that meant that the only people who were able to afford them were either very rich or had saved up. And Christmas would be a time to enjoy the best you could get. If you had to save all year to get your hands on a bit of ginger...

Imagine not only using ginger, but also cinnamon, cardemom, coriander, anisseed, nutmeg and cloves. Imagine the amount of money it would cost. Imagine how you would savour the taste and enjoy it. Imagine the taste of Christmas!

So, get you to a shop and get buying some ingredients for my Christmas tasting Speculaaspie! Here they come:

For the speculaas spice mix:
5 ts ground cinnamon
4 ts ground cloves
1,5 ts ground ginger
1 ts ground cardemom
1 ts ground coriander
1 ts ground annisseed (I couldn't get hold of that, so used ground fennelseed instead)
1 ts ground nutmeg

ts = tablespoon
Take a clean, dry glass jar with lid. Put all ingredients in jar, put the lid on and shake until well mixed. It will keep and if it runs low: just add more ingredients!

For the dough:
300 grams of ordinary flour
100 grams of brown sugar
pinch of salt
200 grams of cold butter, diced
2 table spoons of speculaas spice mix

For the filling:
75-100 grams of dried apricots
75-100 grams of raisins
2 large and firm apples, peeled and diced
2 dl of fresh orange juice
300 grams of almond paste

1. Mix the four, the sugar, the spice mix and the salt in a bowl. 
2. Add the butter and knead until you have a consistent dough. If it is still too crumby, add a bit of water. 
3. Wrap in a bit of clingfilm and put it in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer you leave it, the more flavoursome it becomes.
4. Preheat the oven at 175 degrees Centigrade. Grease a 24 centimeter loose bottomed round tin.
5. Put the apricots, raisins and orange juice in a small pan and heat. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes until the juice has nearly evaporated. Let it cool.
6. Mix the cooled fruit mix with the diced apples. Set aside.
7. Divide the dough in two. One part is used to roll out and cover the bottom and sides of the pie tin. Make sure it fits properly by pressing it down and cut away any excess. 
8. Roll out the almond paste and cover the bottom of the dough completely. Put the fruit mix in and press down with the back end of a spoon.
9. Use the rest of the dough to make small balls. Put them on the top of the fruit and press down lightly. Cover the whole of the pie! If you haven't got enough, cover in a symmetrical way.
10. Put the pie in the oven (middle or lower shelf) and bake it for between 50 and 60 minutes until done. Leave to cool in the tin. 

Eat and enjoy your own taste of Christmas

This post is part prompted by Spin Cycle. Thank you Ginny Marie at Lemon Drop Pie.


  1. Oh, wow, this sounds delicious! And it looks so pretty, too! I think I have a new dessert for Christmas to make! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  2. Your recipe sounds great! I had to laugh when I saw the gingerbread house photo at the top. We just had a gingerbread house decorating contest at work today, and my team joked that while it looked good enough to eat, the store-bought gingerbread was not tasty at all! Homemade recipes are the best.

    1. That is so true. For some reason, you taste the love in home made food. Or it might just be sweat of course, either way: it tastes better!

  3. Hari OM
    Oh my word... printing this one off and to the shops e'er long!!! YAM xx

  4. It's fun to decorate them.....then my husband takes the houses to the shooting range and blows them apart....LOL! That spice mix sounds awesome, will have to try it. Thanks for your dessert recipe too.


Any weighty (and not so weighty) comments are welcome!