Thursday, December 15, 2011

Speculaas

Photo by Steve Shanahan


First published Canberra Times 14 December 2011


1¾ cups plain flour
¼ tspn salt
¼ tspn baking powder
2½ tspn ground cinnamon
¼ tspn ground ginger
¼ tspn ground cloves
7 tbsp unsalted butter, left at room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and spices together in a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredients in 3 lots, mixing until just combined and the flour disappears into the soft dough. If the dough is too dry add a couple of dashes of milk to the mixture, this will vary depending on the weather. You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, just mix with your hands to knead the dough and work in any dry spots.  The dough will be very soft.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper or plastic wrap until you have a circle that’s about 3mm thick. As you roll, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper of plastic so you don’t end up with creases in the rolled out rounds. Put the rolled out rounds of dough on a tray and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. At this stage the dough can be left in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen if sealed with plastic wrap for up to 3 months.

When the dough is ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Remove the dough circles from the refrigerator and peel off the paper or plastic wrap. Using a biscuit cutter, whatever shape you like, to cut out as many biscuits as you can from the dough, carefully lifting the cut-outs onto the baking sheet. Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.

Bake the biscuits for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are lightly golden and just brown around the edges. Allow the biscuits to rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Repeat with the second round of dough. Use the remaining scraps from the dough circle, press them together, and roll them into a circle, chill before cutting and baking as per the previous method.