Dutch Speculaasbrokken (Spice Cookies)

Speculaasbrokken | KoekbookDutch Speculaasbrokken (Spice Cookies) | A Dutchie Baking

 

Yup, this is a Dutchie baking alright! I’m still in the “Sinterklaas” mood, this time I’ve baked some classic speculaasbrokken (spice cookies). The dough is fairly similar to that of the pepernoten I baked last week, but a tablespoon of egg adds some extra rise and softness to the finished product. I would say it’s a bit like gingerbread.

 

 
I have to say I haven’t been making things easy for myself, baking a lot of “brown” foods. They are so difficult to photograph, and I’m only just starting out with a DSLR camera. I found some excellent (e-)books on food photography, so I am not discouraged yet (I can recommend “Tasty Food Photography” by Lindsay)
 
 The cookies I made were sort of soft, almost cake-like, I kind of winged it with the rolling out of the dough so it was probably a bit too thick. I left my rolling pin at my parents’ house, so I cleaned a wine bottle (we have plenty of those here, I don’t drink wine myself) and used that to roll it out instead. Student solutions! If you like a soft consistency in a cookie, go for a thicker piece, otherwise keep the dough at 0.5 centimeter as called for in the recipe. To make these a little more fancy, you could decorate with some (blanched) almonds. You can substitute the butter and milk with their dairy-free alternatives (in fact, this is what I did). You don’t bake these cookies separately, but break up one larger piece. The result is a rustic look which I really like – not everything has to look like it was made in a factory, on the contrary! This looks lovely and homebaked. In fact, you could just keep it in one piece and it would pass for a giant cookie. 
 

Recipe Speculaasbrokken

Ingredients:

200 gr all-purpose flour
100 gr dark brown sugar
100 gr butter, diced
pinch of salt
1 tbsp egg, beaten (keep the rest for the glaze)
4 tsp speculaas spices
1 tsp baking powder
milk (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 175C/Gas 3/350F. Grease a baking tray.


2. Sift the baking powder and flour into a bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the milk. Knead until the dough comes away from the sides. If the dough is too dry, add some milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Shape the dough into a ball.


3. Roll the dough out on the baking tray until you have a 0.5cm/1/6 inch thick piece. You can roll it out in whichever shape you want, you’re going to break it up afterwards anyway.


4. Glaze the dough with the remaining eggwash, then decorate with almonds if desired.


5. Bake for 30 mins in the middle of the oven. Then leave to cool on the baking sheet until cool. Break or cut into pieces.


Traditional Dutch “Pepernoten” Recipe

Traditional Dutch "Pepernoten" Recipe | Koekbook

 

November is upon us, and in the Netherlands that means we are getting ready for the feast of Saint Nicholas (“Sinterklaas”), celebrated on the 5th of december. Saint Nicholas comes with a lot of traditional baking and candy. His helper Piet throws the stuff into rooms when you least expect it. Pepernoten (“pepper nuts”) are one of the pillars of Sinterklaas baking, a small, crunchy cookie flavored with speculaas spices. If you don’t have access to this blend,  you can make your own. The Dutch eat LOADS of these every year. Pepernoten are so popular that supermarkets now stock them in August – a controversial decision which has led to protest from traditionalists. 

To be really honest here, these pepernoten should actually be called kruidnoten, but no one in the Netherlands really makes the distinction. “Real” pepernoten are tougher, contain aniseed and are healthier for you. It’s similar to “taai-taai”, a tough and chewy type of cookie. The real pepernoten have declined in popularity in recent years, I think their jaw-hurting abilities might have something to do with that. 


You’ll notice the mandarin in the photos. I am OBSESSED with mandarins. They are pretty much what makes the holiday season for me. Mandarins and pepernoten together smell like my childhood, the nostalgia!


The recipe below can be easily veganfied: just swap the milk and butter for a dairy-free alternative and you’re all set! For more info on Sinterklaas, check out this Wikipedia page

Traditional Dutch "Pepernoten" Recipe | Koekbook


Pepernoten Recipe


Ingredients:


150 gr all-purpose flour

75gr dark brown sugar 
60 gr unsalted butter, diced
approx. 3 tbsp milk 
1 tbsp speculaas spice blend 
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F/Gas 3 and grease a baking tray. 


2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix these together so they are distributed evenly. 


3. Add the butter and rub it into the dry mixture with your hands until you get a sand-like consistency. 


4. Add the milk, and knead until the dough has come away from the bowl. 


5. Roll the dough into little marble sized balls between your hands and place them on the baking tray, leaving some space between each ball. Bake the pepernoten in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


Chocolate & Coffee Vegan Fudge with Nuts

Chocolate & Coffee Vegan Fudge with Nuts | Koekbook

 

 
Feeling blue on a rainy day? This vegan fudge is very easily whipped up. You don’t need a lot of equipment, other than a pan, some heat and something to pour your fudge into (something square would be great for that though). Perfect for students! Technically this is more like a pretty solid ganache, feel free to use it in that way as well – it turns out very shiny on top! Be warned: this is extremely rich and addictive. This’ll keep for a while though, so you don’t need to eat it all right away (you know you want to).

Chocolate & Coffee Vegan Fudge with Nuts | Koekbook

      
You’ll see that coconut cream is included in the ingredients. I should stress that this is not the same thing as coconut milk! Coconut cream is a fattier version of coconut milk, thick and paste-like (although mine was pretty solid *ahem*). The cream on its own is already heavenly, in this fudge it is the creamy-maker. You won’t taste any of the coconut in combination with the chocolate but you could add some dessicated coconut to the mixture and on top to accomplish that tropical twist. I’ve used mocha-extract in this recipe, but you can substitute that for vanilla, as is done in the blogpost on Fork and Beans that I adapted this recipe from. 
 Chocolate & Coffee Vegan Fudge with Nuts | KoekbookChocolate & Coffee Vegan Fudge with Nuts | Koekbook
 
Recipe Chocolate & Coffee Vegan Fudge with Nuts.
 
Ingredients:
 
-2 cups non-dairy semi sweet chocolate chips (or chocolate bar cut into small pieces) 
-1/2 cup coconut cream, not coconut milk! 
-1/2 cup non dairy milk 
-1 c. chopped nuts, optional (or more!)
-Mocha extract to taste 
-Dash salt
 
1. In a pan (preferably heavy saucepan, but anything will do), over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the coconut cream, non-dairy milk, and salt. Remove from heat when everything has dissolved.
2. Stir in nuts and mocha extract if desired. Hazelnuts go particularly well with mocha and chocolate. Spread evenly into a wax paper lined small square pan (or whatever small pan you can find).  Place more chopped nuts on top for extra nuttiness.
3. Chill for 2 hours, or until firm.
4. Turn the fudge onto a cutting board, peel off paper and cut into squares.  Store fudge in the fridge.
Recipe adapted from Fork and Beans

Vegan Brandy Snaps

 
 
 
Some of you might remember these Brandy Snaps from the Great British and the Australian Bake Off where they were featured as a technical challenge. I’m always up for a challenge and I made things harder for myself by transforming these snaps into a vegan, lactose-free version. Its name suggests some form of brandy being involved, but in fact ” brandy”  here is a derivative of the adjective “branded”. Branded means “Of a tawny or brownish colour, marked with bars or streaks of a different hue” and was used to describe the color of cattle and other animals in the olden days (definition from the OED). Actually, I think it describes the colour of this rolled biscuit quite accurately.

 

I used a liquid type of vegan butter to make these snaps, which works, but I would recommend using a non-liquid butter. My snaps turned out slightly oily because the butter could not return to a solid form when it cooled down. Other than that, the recipe is Mary Berry’s, so it’s difficult to go wrong with it. Make sure the biscuits have a good colour on them before you take them out of the oven, otherwise you’ll end up with weak snaps that won’t keep their shape. When executed correctly, you’ll have caramelly, gingery snaps that snap in your mouth. The (vegan) whipped cream is optional, but adds a lovely, soft contrast to the crunchiness. Perfect for a rainy autumn afternoon!

Recipe Vegan Brandy Snaps
 
Ingredients:
 
55g/2oz vegan butter (preferably solid)
55g/2oz demerara sugar
55g/2oz golden syrup
50g/1¾oz plain flour
½ level tsp ground ginger
½ tsp lemon juice
 
(vegan) whipped cream (optional)

—————————————————————–
 
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with baking parchment then oil a thickish handle of a wooden spoon and lay it on a cooling rack.
 
2. Measure the butter, sugar and syrup into a small, heavy-based pan. The easiest way is to measure the butter, then the sugar on the scales (in the pan if you have digital scales), then measure the syrup on top to make up to 165g/6oz total weight.
 
3. Heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. This will take about 15 minutes over a low heat. Don’t let the mixture boil as it may crystallise. To check when the sugar has dissolved, stir occasionally, pulling the spoon across the bottom of the pan until you can no longer hear the gritty granules being scraped along and most of them have disappeared.
 
4. Leave the mixture to cool slightly, about 2-3 minutes, then sieve in the flour and ginger. Pour in the lemon juice and stir well to mix thoroughly. Drop four teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto each of the prepared baking trays to make neat circles, about 10cm/4in apart.
 
5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture is well spread out, looks lacey and is a dark golden colour. Once baked, you need to work fast to shape the brandy snaps, so its easier if you bake one tray at a time. Remove each tray from the oven and leave for a minute or so to firm up slightly, then lift from the baking parchment using a fish slice. The mixture needs to be just firm enough to remove, but pliable enough to shape. Check by releasing around and under the edges with a small palette knife.
 
6. Quickly roll a circle of the warm mixture around the handle of the wooden spoon, having the join underneath. Press the join lightly together to seal, then slide the brandy snap off the spoon and leave it to firm up on the wire rack, again with the join underneath. If any of the circles on the sheet harden too much to work with, put them back in the oven for a few seconds to soften again. Repeat until all the mixture has been used. If the mixture in the pan becomes too firm to drop in neat spoonfuls, roll a teaspoonful of it into a small smooth ball in your hands, sit it on the baking tray and flatten slightly with your fingers. When cold, store the brandy snaps in an airtight tin or container; they will keep for at least a week.
 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (Hummingbird Bakery)

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (Hummingbird Bakery) | A Dutchie Baking
 
The Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe has been a staple recipe for me ever since I first tried it. The cookies that result from this recipe are so deliciously chewy and chocolatey, they are irresistable! One of my housemates told me that they are a bit salty, and she’s absolutely right. But just as a pinch of salt works in a glass of chocolate milk (as Gloria taught us in Modern Family), it works for these cookies. 

 

One of my friends had invited me to her church, because she’s always talking so enthusiastically about her work in the (children’s) choir and I tend to respond slightly lukewarm to it. So this sunday, I went along to one of the children’s services to see what it was all about, and give some context to my friend’s stories. Of course I saw a great opportunity to bake, and so I brought these cookies and also some animal-shaped vanilla ones since it was an animal-themed service. They were a big hit, which I concluded from seeing several people going back for second servings. As for the service, I am not suddenly converted to Christianity or anything, but it was one of the better religious experiences for me. 
 
I had the worst time photographing these cookies though. Granted I am still learning about food photography, the lack of light that I am dealing with most of the time is starting to frustrate me. I have picked up From Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin to educate myself on how to work with a DSLR camera, which has helped me a bit, but without light it is just so tough. Also, the surfaces I have available aren’t exactly the prettiest or easiest ones. While my cinnamon buns in the previous post were quite easily photographed, these cookies are really difficult to work with, which I think might have to do with their (non-existent) height. If any of you out there have any tips on photographing cookies, I’ll gladly take them!
 
Now for the recipe: I made slightly smaller cookies, you’ll get 24 humongous American style sized cookies following the recipe.
 
 
 
Chocolate Chip Cookies (Hummingbird Bakery)
 
Ingredients:
 
225gr unsalted butter, at room temperature
350gr soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
400gr plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

225gr dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)

4 baking trays, lined with greaseproof paper (I used 1 tray, had 4 sheets of greaseproof paper on which I put the cookies, then baked them consecutively).


1. Preheat the over to 170C/325F/Gas 3


2. Put the butter and sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld electric whisk, and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatular after each addition. Turn the mixer down to slow speed and beat in the vanilla extract.


3. Add the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and mix well until a smooth dough is formed. It will really be a very soft dough, almost a batter. Stir in the chopped chcolate until evenly dispersed.


4. Arrange 6 equal amounts of cookie dough on each prepared baking tray/sheet of greaseproof paper. Make sure that the cookies are spaced apart to allow for speading while baking. These will spread quite a bit, as the dough is quite soft. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges and quite flat. Leave the cookies to cool slightly on the trays to set them, before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. The cookies should be soft and chewy.


Source: The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullensdag)

 
You have to love a country that celebrates the glorious cinnamon bun, or any baked good for that matter. Sweden celebrates “kanelbullensdag” every year on the 4th of october. Since Sweden is like my second home country, I thought I might celebrate this day today and bake some lovely buns. It’s not too late to get baking yourself! You can bake these buns seperately on a baking sheet or in bun cases (shouldn’t those technically be pants?) and decorate with nib sugar. You’ll notice the recipe is a little different, in Sweden they often measure in deciliters. Don’t let that scare you off though, it always works out well. Just keep to the recipe!
 
 


Kanelbullar (Cinnamon Buns)

Ingredients dough:


25   gr fresh yeast or 8 grams of active dry yeast

50   gr butter or margarine
300 ml milk
1/2 dl sugar
pinch of salt
8     dl (about 400 grams) bread flour 

Ingredients filling:


50    gr butter or margarine

2      teaspooon cinnamon
1/2  dl sugar

Ingredients topping:

1 egg, beaten
nib sugar


1. Crumble the (fresh) yeast in a bowl. Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan or in a microwave for about 30 seconds on 800W (max). Add the milk to the butter and let the mixture cool down to 37C/99F. When cooled down, add some of the butter/milk mixture to the (fresh) yeast to dissolve it. 
 
2. Then add the rest of the liquids, the sugar, salt and almost all the flour. Save a bit of the flour for later. Knead in a stand mixer or by hand until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Do not overknead! This dough does not need much kneading. Leave to rise in a bowl covered with cling film for 30 minutes. 
 
3. While your dough is rising, preheat the oven to 250C/480F and mix the butter, cinnamon and sugar for the filling. Then when your dough has risen (it does not rise that much), incorporate the remainder of the flour, kneading until the dough is smooth again. Roll it out to a sheet of 30x40cm (12×15 inch). Spread the filling out over the dough with a (palette) knife. Roll the sheet up from the long side, then cut the roll into 2cm (0,8 inches) pieces. Put these pieces in bun cases or on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
 
4. Leave the buns to rise, covered with a cloth, for 20 mins. Then brush them with the eggwash and sprinkle with nib sugar. Put the buns in the preheated oven and bake for 8 mins. Leave to cool on a wire rack covered with a tea towel. Store the buns in a resealable bag or container.
 
 
Enjoy!

Sachertorte (with some modern “art”)

 
For those passionate about patisserie, Vienna is somewhat of a food heaven. Vienna is, amongst other things, the birthplace of the Sachertorte. The original recipe for this ‘torte’ was developed by Franz Sacher in 1832 for a dinner party hosted by Prince Wenzel von Metternich. It was Franz’ son, however, who succeeded in perfecting the recipe and introducing it at the famous Demel bakery and later at Hotel Sacher, where you can still enjoy it today. Needless to say that I would love to have a cup of tea with a genuine slice of Sachertorte at some point! For now, however, other recipes and my own baking will have to suffice.
I baked this torte for my birthday last sunday. I left it in the fridge, already filled with jam, overnight so that the flavors could intensify. The next day I made the ganache and chocolate curls because I didn’t want to risk the ganache going dull, no-one likes matte ganache now do they? The recipe calls for the torte to be sliced in five layers, but I only managed three – the flavor was pretty awesome anyway!

 

Sachertorte (adapted from De Banketbakker by Cees Holtkamp)

Ingredients torte:


110 gr softened unsalted butter

35 gr icing sugar
pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
90 gr dark chocolate, melted
5 egg whites
150 gr castor sugar
110 gr plain flour, sifted
apricot jam
raspberry jam

Ingredients ganache (you can do with about half of this recipe but you can store leftover ganache in the fridge for a few months):


300 ml whipping cream

120 gr sugar
60 ml milk
420 gr dark chocolate, cut into small pieces or grated
120 gr unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Ingredients decoration:


chocolate curls (optional)

milk chocolate (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.


2. Whip the butter, icing sugar, egg yolks and salt until fluffy. Scrape the bowl, then add the melted chocolate and mix until combined.


3. At this point, you’ll want to whip up the egg whites with the sugar until you have stiff peaks, but not dry. Make sure the bowl and the mixer are fat-free or you won’t get the desired volume. I always clean my bowls with a bit of lemon juice, usually does the trick!


4. Mix a couple of spoonfuls of whipped egg white into the chocolate batter to slacken it. Then fold the rest of the egg white in, making sure not to overmix. I leave in a couple of white specks because you still have to fold in the flour, which is the next step. Again, don’t overmix, but don’t leave any unmixed flour. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl well.


5. Spoon the batter into a greased and floured 25cm/10″ and 5cm/2″ high round cake tin. Smooth the batter over and place in the middle of the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the middle clean.


6. When baked, leave cake to cool on a wire rack until completely cold. Then slice the cake in 5 layers, or alternatively in 3 layers. Fill the layers, alternating apricot and raspberry jam.


7. Now you can leave the cake overnight, or if you’re in a hurry, just leave it in the fridge while you make your ganache. 


8. To make the ganache, bring the milk, sugar and cream to a boil in a large sauce pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the chocolate in. Slowly stir in the butter until completely dissolved. 


9. Place the torte on a wire rack, preferably with a cakeboard underneath. Pour the warm ganache over the top of the torte, spreading it with a (palette) knife so that the sides are covered properly. 


10. Optionally, leave the torte for about 15 minutes, then decorate the sides with some (homemade) chocolate curls. You can choose to decorate the top with some milk chocolate, traditionally “Sacher” is written on the cake. My chocolate was still too hot to pipe, but I was in a hurry, so I went with a more modern interpretation. 

Dutch Whipped Cream Cake

Dutch Whipped Cream Cake | Koekbook


Whipped Cream Cake is a classic choice for a Dutch birthday. At most birthdays, you’ll find this creamy and fresh cake, in different varieties. Round, square, oblong, with a picture on edible paper or different types of fruits, whatever the baker can think of. The basic “building bricks” of this cake are a sponge cake, fruit or jam and whipped cream. You can leave the sides as they are, use nougatine (in my case store-bought) or roasted sliced almonds. Go nuts, so to speak! For my filling I used apricot jam and fresh strawberries, and some kiwi, strawberries and chocolate decoration on the top. Don’t be alarmed when the sponge turns out slightly dry – this is the way it is supposed to be. That’s what all that whipped cream is for!Dutch Whipped Cream Cake | Koekbook


This recipe is adapted from De Banketbakker by famous Dutch patissier Cees Holtkamp, of Patisserie Holtkamp in Amsterdam. If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, be sure to pick up a slice of “Oriënt” or a banana éclair (“bananensoes”) as I did, absolutely yum! Holtkamp shares his patisserie recipes in De Banketbakker, but the recipes are quite brief. He has starred in a number of clips on “Foodtube”, which can be found here. Be aware that they are Dutch clips, so high time to brush up your Dutch skills.



Recipe Whipped Cream Cake

Ingredients sponge:


4 eggs

pinch of salt
100 gr caster sugar
5 gr lemon zest
90 gr plain flour
10 gr cornflour

Ingredients filling & topping: 


500 ml whipping cream (+ stabilizer for 500 ml whipping cream) 

50 gr castor sugar
150 gr apricot jam
fresh fruit
chocolate (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F

2. Grease a 25cm/10″ and 5cm/2″ high round cake tin, line the bottom with greaseproof paper.


3. Beat the eggs with the salt, sugar and lemon zest au bain-marie for 15 minutes until airy. Be sure you whip for long enough, because the cake will be flat and leathery otherwise.


4. Sift the flour and cornflour and fold it into the egg mixture. Really scrape the bottom of the bowl, to prevent clumps of flour (these clumps will get stone hard when baked). You don’t want to overmix however, as you will lose rise. The eggs function as the rising agent here!


5. Pour the batter into the greased tin, smoothing it over with a spatula or a spoon and place in the middle of the preheated oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the middle clean.


6. When the sponge has cooled, cut it in three even layers. Whip the whipping cream with the sugar (and optional stabilizer) until firm. Pipe or spread a thick layer of whipped cream on the bottom layer, then cover with fresh fruit. Be sure to push the fruit in the cream a bit or the layers won’t stick together. Place the second layer on the whipped cream and fruit mixture. Spread the apricot jam on the second layer. Then place the last sponge layer on top. Cover the whole cake in whipped cream using a palette knife. Optionally, cover the sides with nougatine or sliced almonds. Using the leftover whipped cream, pipe small swirls on top of the cake along the border and decorate with fresh fruit and chocolate.

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes – Hummingbird Bakery

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes - Hummingbird Bakery | A Dutchie Baking
 
Red Velvet Cupcakes are yum! That’s just a fact. Another fact is that the Hummingbird Bakery simply has the best recipe. I’ve made other cupcake recipes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook before and they’ve always turned out great. These turned out FANTASTIC. As today (29th of september) is my birthday, I had a small party in my dorm last thursday for which I made these cupcakes. The recipe calls for two unconventional ingredients, vinegar and buttermilk, but don’t let that scare you off! The buttermilk makes for a fantastic crumb and the vinegar reacts with the bicarbonate of soda to give an extra lift, making the cupcakes extra fluffy. The recipe yields 12 regular, or about 36 mini cupcakes. If you’re making mini cupcakes, bake for 15 minutes, the regular sized ones need about 20-25 minutes. I used half the cream cheese frosting recipe, which was plenty, but if you have a really sweet tooth, go right ahead and use the whole recipe.

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Vegan Almond & Cinnamon Biscotti



I bet we all have that person in our life who can’t enjoy baked goods as most of us can. Either they’re allergic to things like lactose or flour, or they have decided not to use animal-derived products. Whichever restriction is applicable: fret not! There are plenty of substitutions around that will satisfy those challenged sweet teeth.

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