Scandelicious Baking- An Update on the August Cooking The Books Challenge.

It’s been a few weeks since I updated my blog. There’s been so much going on.  Once the school holidays are over I’m back into work mode and there is barely time to get the jobs around the house done.  Then again, I haven’t managed to get anywhere near my computer.  So I thought I’d better get something writen down.

My August Cooking The Books recipe book challenge from Scandelicious Baking seems like a lifetime ago now.  Although I found it enjoyable and I had plenty of time, I didn’t get round to baking two of the recipes I’d originally planned to bake. These were a Pistachio Pavlova with Boozy Cherries and a Norwegian AlmondTart.  I don’t know what happened at the end of the holidays, guess I just ran out of time.

So, to recap I think I would like to look at what I did get round to making.  On the whole I have really enjoyed testing out some delicious recipes. Different flavours and things I wouldn’t have thought to try.

I love making fish pie for my family so I thought the Scandelicious Fish Gratin would go down well with my family.  Instead of being topped with pastry, mashed potato or breadcrumbs this version of a fish pie was topped with some crushed Swedish Krisprolls.  Well I didn’t crush them enough so the topping looked very rustic and unappealing.  Also my son (who used to love my fish pie) refused to eat it.

339
The Scandelicious Fish Gratin had a topping of crushed Krisprolls.

To make the Fish Gratin filling I poached some cod cut into large chunks in some milk infused with peppercorns and nutmeg.  After this I made a sauce which had leeks, onion, eggs and creme fraiche in to add to the fish.  This was then poured into a baking dish ready to be topped with the crushed krisprolls!

340
The fish gratin filling.
341
The finished fish gratin. Looked a bit unappealing and appealed even less to myself and my family. Not a big success at all.

After eating some savoury cheesecake from a buffet once I was keen to have a go at baking one myself. So I had a go at the Scandelicious Cheese and Onion Cheesecake.  The cheesecake contained an oatcake and porridge oat base which had been combined with melted butter.  To make the filling I whisked egg yolks with a pinch of salt, then added some Quark and some cream cheese along with some flour, chopped spring onions and some cheese.  Now in the recipe Signe Johansen suggests Vasterbotten cheese which I have never even heard of, let alone seen it in my local shops.  In the end I used Jarlsberg cheese and grated it straight into the mixture.  In another bowl I beat some egg whites which were then combined with the cheese mixture.  When this was ready it went straight on top of the base and was baked in the oven for about half an hour.

400
The finished Cheese and Onion Cheesecake.
401
Delicious with a salad.
402
I had a slice on its own for lunch the following day.

I’m not very good at baking bread or using yeast but I wanted to have a go at the Spelt Picnic Buns.  I’m not that used to using spelt flour either but I like eating spelt bread.  These buns were meant to be useful for eating on a picnic but we never got to go on one as it was too cold or wet during the last couple of weeks of the school summer holidays.  I baked the buns in my muffin tin but they were not what I was expecting at all. I was expecting them to turn out a lot a bigger than they were.  They tasted delicious though and I had one spread with butter at breakfast.

014
Scandelicious Spelt Picnic Buns.

So here ends the Cooking The Books Challenge for August and I had more challenges for days in the month than I had time for.  There are lots more recipes I would love to bake from Scandelicious Baking.  I can definitely recommend the book.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

The Speculaas Spice Company- Chewy Speculaas Blondies and Speculaas Cookies.

I enjoyed my baking session using the Speculaas Spice miz.
I enjoyed my baking session using the Speculaas Spice miz.

I must admit I’d not heard of speculaas spice before.  So when Steven from The Speculaas Spice Company asked me if I would like to try a sample of his special Speculaas spice mix I was intrigued.

A little package arrived in the post last week along with some background information about The Speculaas Spice Company.  Speculaas is a special spice mix that originates from The Netherlands and many families had their own spice recipes.  Steven grew up in Amsterdam and wanted to recreate the smell and taste of the Speculaas biscuits his own mother baked at home.

The special Speculaas Spice mix packet and background information sent to me from The Speculaas Spice Company.
The special Speculaas Spice mix packet and background information sent to me from The Speculaas Spice Company.

The spices used in the VanDotsch Speculaas spice mix are organic or Fair Trade wherever possible and do not contain any preservatives.  There are nine different spices in the blend including ginger, cloves, cinnamon and six other aromatic flavours.

If you want to find out more about The Speculaas Spice Company then here are the details:

Steven Dotsch, The Speculaas Spice Company

www. speculaasspice.co.uk

Email: info@speculaasspice.co.uk

Tel: 020 8374 8718

To follow on Twitter: @vanDotschSpices

There are some delicious recipes to try out on the website but I was keen to try out the spices in two recipes I’d always fancied baking from the very first Edd Kimber book “The Boy Who Bakes”.  One  recipe was for some mouthwatering Blondies, also containing chocolate and hazelnuts, the other for some aromatic Speculaas cookies.  I thought that the Spice mix would transform the bakes onto another level. There were enough spices to bake both recipes and as soon as I opened the little packet the wonderful smell escaped out into the kitchen.  It made me very hungry.  One of my favourite aromas in the world is the smell of gingerbread men baking and I was immediately transported back to my childhood.  I am sure the Speculaas spice does the same for lots of Dutch children!

Edd Kimber says in his recipe introduction that he is “in love with speculaas.. what’s not to love?”  I have baked blondies before but not with spices added to them, this was going to be very interesting.  So, I greased an 8″ square tin and got stuck in!

016
I used about three teaspoonfuls of speculaas spice mix in the blondies.
017
Some butter was melted in a small pan.
018
The spice mix was added to the melted butter, cooked for a couple of minutes and then I added some brown sugar to heat through.
019
The melted butter, spice mix and brown sugar. This was taken off the heat and left to cool for a few minutes.
020
The other ingredients were added. First the dry ones, such as plain flour, baking powder and salt were folded into the melted butter mixture. Then I added in a bar of chopped white chocolate and some hazelnuts.
021
The batter was poured into the prepared tin and then baked in the oven for about 35 minutes. It took a little bit longer as I used a square tin and not a longer rectangular one. 
024
The brownies had more depth than the ones in the picture because of the size of the tin. I had to adjust the baking time, it needed about 10-15 minutes longer than Edd suggested. This didn’t cause any problems, the blondies came out gooey and chewy as expected.
028
The finished blondies- cut up and on a serving plate. The smell was absolutely gorgeous and it took all my courage not to scoff the lot there and then!

I was very impressed with the Speculaas spices and I hope to buy some more in the future.  I can see the comforting  spices working very well in cookies, gingerbread and other bakes that you would eat or make in the Autumn and Winter months.  As I was so entranced by the spices I decided to use the rest of them up in a second recipe from The Boy Who Bakes.  This time it was a recipe for Speculaas cookies.

Edd also says in the biscuit introduction that this is a “spicy biscuit with plenty of crunch” The recipe he states is not a traditional one but has the flavour.

022
First, I put plain flour, the remainder of the spice mix, some salt, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl and mixed them together.
023
To this I added cubed butter which I rubbed in to the flour and sugar mixture.

After this I added in one whole egg, another egg yolk and binded the mixture together to form a large ball of dough.  After this, Edd says to cut out the dough shapes and to chill them on a baking tray.  I didn’t have time to do this so I baked them straightaway as soon as I had cut them out.  The biscuits in the picture were circular ones but I fancied trying out two different shapes. I cut out plain circles and also a fluted rectangle.  The recipe went very far and I got loads of biscuits out of the dough.

025
The finished circular Speculaas cookies warm out of the oven, deliciously aromatic and sprinkled generously with caster sugar.
026
The rectangular biscuits.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx