Tag Archives: biscuits

Christmas Baking: Speculaas Biscuit Baking Mix

AD gifted. One of my favourite things to do during the run up to Christmas is visit the Christmas markets in Manchester. Along with copious amounts of mulled wine, I always seek out the stall which sells speculaas biscuits. They’re full of festive spice and they’re just delicious.

Speculaas is a type of spiced biscuit traditionally baked on or just before St Nicholas’ Day and around Christmas in many European countries. Speculaas are thin, crunchy, slightly browned biscuits which usually have an image or figure stamped on the front side before baking. The most common design I’ve seen is the windmill, which is why I often call them windmill biscuits.

Christmas Baking: Speculaas Biscuit Baking Mix

Vandotsch recently sent me a packet of Speculaas Baking Mix to bake with. The packet contained almost everything you needed to bake a batch of speculaas, just add butter! The instructions were really easy to follow, and they took just minutes to mix together. It’s important to have faith that the mix will turn into a decent dough once you start working with it. Do not be tempted to add water or milk or anything, this will just make the dough too sticky.

The Vandotsch Baking Mix contains all the lovely festive spices speculaas are known for. Packed with cinnamon, cloves and ginger, the biscuits are a real Christmas treat. I don’t have a windmill shaped cutter, so I used my Christmas tree cutter, which worked pretty well. I had some dough left over, so I rolled this up into balls, squashed them with the palm of my hand and made a few seriously delicious cookie sized biscuits, because they were thicker they were somehow even better.

Christmas Baking: Speculaas Biscuit Baking Mix

The Baking Mix is suitable for vegetarians and vegans (if made with a non dairy substitute). It is also free from artificial flavourings, colours or preservatives. They are gluten free too.

The pre-made Baking Mix costs £5.59 and there are options to buy the mix with a traditional style cutter too. These would make a lovely gift for a keen baker like myself. Vandotsch have all kinds of speculaas spice and baking mixes on their website, so it’s worth having a look to see if anything tickles your fancy.

Recipe: Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

Back in September we visited Keswick in the Lake District for the weekend. We had a very lovely time and as we headed home, we ambled through the Lake District, stopping off at a few places. One of those places was the popular village of Grasmere, famous for its delicious Grasmere gingerbread.

Grasmere gingerbread is very special. It is firmer than any other kind of gingerbread I’ve ever had and it’s full of ginger and spice. It’s got mixed peel running through it and a crumbly topping like nothing I’ve ever eaten. It is one of my favourite things in the world.

Recipe: Grasmere Gingerbread biscuits

The original recipe is very closely guarded secret, but I’ve been baking my own version at home for a few years now. It’s not quite as firm or as crumbly as the proper Grasmere gingerbread, but it’s a good almost Grasmere gingerbread and it fills the gaps between visits to Grasmere to stock up on this treat.

Grasmere style Gingerbread

Ingredients:

225g self-raising flour
75g golden caster sugar
3 teaspoons of ground ginger
Pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
2 eggs
50g mixed peel, chopped
Granulated sugar, to sprinkle over the top

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 170°. Mix the flour, caster sugar, ginger and salt in a bowl. Melt the butter and golden syrup in a small pan, once melted, take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Take your eggs and separate the yolks, beat the yolks and slowly add them to the cooled syrup and butter. Whisk well. Tip this into the dry mix and combine. Set aside the whites of the eggs for later.

Take your mixed peel and chop it up into tiny pieces. Stir this through the mixture.

Grease a Swiss roll tin, spread the mixture in the pan making sure it’s even all over. Brush the top of the gingerbread with some of the egg whites and sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top, use as much or as little as you like. I used about 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown all over. As it is cooling, with a sharp knife cut it into rectangles in the tin and leave to cool. Once fully cool you should be able to cut the biscuits easily across these lines with a knife.

Recipe: Grasmere Gingerbread biscuits

Proper Grasmere gingerbread is then portioned up and wrapped in greaseproof paper. This would be a lovely way to wrap up your gingerbread, especially if you’re going to give it as a gift, perhaps at Christmas.

These are lovely gingerbread biscuits, but they’re not quite as lovely as the originals. If you’re ever visiting Grasmere in the Lake District, I urge you to visit the tiny gingerbread shop by the church. Just follow your nose and you’ll soon find it!

Recipe: Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try these Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky rounds.

Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits