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Speculaas bagels

Saturday 14th November 2015

Betterbagels speculaas bagels

Frank Zweerus – best artisan bagel baker in The Netherlands – used vandotsch speculaas spice to create Betterbagels Speculaas Bagel.

Frank makes his bagels in a semi-artisan way, using traditional methods, in his own bakery called BetterBagels, in Leiden, where the bagels are boiled before being baked. This provides a unique taste and texture.

The whole process of kneading, forming , proving and cooling takes at least 12 hours, including an overnight rest of the dough. Thereafter, the bagels are boiled in water. Then they go into the oven where they are baked. Then, they are turned , and baked again. This gives them their unique flavor.

The making of bagels at BetterBagels

There are two ways to make the distinctive bagel shape. At the BetterBagels bakery Frank uses the "rope-and-loop" technique, as demonstrated in the video, which is fun to do but also takes some practice before you'll be able to create evenly round and thick bagels.

If you fail using the rope and loop technique (which I have done!), separate your dough in equal parts and push your thumb through the center of each making a hole and shape the bagel by rotating it around with both hands. Be sure to make a fairly large hole as the dough will rise during the baking process.

Making six Betterbagels speculaas bagels

What follows is an overview of the ingredients that Frank used to make his BetterBagels speculaas bagels


  • 500g organic wheat flour
  • 9g salt
  • 230 ml lukewarm water (22-23 degrees Celcius)
  • 2g dry yeast
  • 60g organic honey
  • 10g (2 tsp) vandotsch speculaas spice
  • 7.5g ground anise seed
  • 100g raisins
  • coarse corn meal for dusting

Bagel board anybody?

Before you start you need to create 'bagel boards', as follows:

  1. Get some wooden planks that will fit into your oven
  2. Wrap them with 100% cotton tea towels and put to one side.

Directions for making the Betterbagels Speculaas Bagels dough

In a bowl mix the honey, yeast and water.

Put the flour and salt into the mixing bowl that you will be using with your electric mixer. Start your electric mixer and keep mixing while you pour in almost all of the water-mixture. Start a timer for 14 minutes.

After three minutes: slowly add the remaining water, picking up any loose flour that is still sticking on the sides of the bowl.

After another 11 minutes of mixing, add all the vandotsch speculaas spices and mix for another two minutes.  Add the raisins and mix for another minute or two.

Take the dough out of the bowl onto your working surface, and cover it with a wet cloth or plastic bag. Let rest for about 10 – 20 minutes (depending on the temperature in your kitchen), until the dough feels soft and elastic.

Tip: Don't let it rest too long! The dough will develop during this time and if it rises too much, you'll have to work harder to get out all the air bubbles that will start to form.

Making the Betterbagels Speculaas Bagels

Dust a baking tray (or two, depending on the size of your board AND your fridge) with corn meal.

After having practiced the rope-and-loop technique, create evenly, round and thick bagels. If it doesn't work out, divide your dough in six equal parts, shape them into balls, flatten them a bit and then make a hole in the middle (as explained above).

Put the bagels on the corn meal sprinkled board(s). Keep a few bits of dough apart and form those into tiny balls.

Let your bagels rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes (again, it depends on how warm your kitchen is).

Fill a glass with warm water and put one of your dough balls in it. If it floats right away, put your bagels in the fridge. If it sinks, wait some minutes longer and test again with another ball, until it floats (almost) immediately after you have put it in.

Tip: For best result: overnight rest

To develop their great taste, Betterbagels Speculaas Bagels need to rest. Leave your bagels in the fridge overnight, so that you are ready to bake them in the morning!

Baking your Betterbagels Speculaas Bagels

Soak your tea towel wrapped bagel boards liberally with cold water (alternatively place a soaked tea towel on a baking sheet).

Heat your oven to 250 degrees Celsius.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to the boil. Once your water boils, get your bagels out of the fridge. Using your hands or a bench scraper; gently lift the bagels off your baking tray(s) and lower them into the water.

Once all the bagels are in the the boiling water, cook for 1.5 to 2 minutes.

Get the bagels out of the water with a strainer and lower them gently onto your bagel boards (or soaked tea towel covering half of the baking sheet).

Wet your hands and turn all your bagels upside down, evened out, on your boards.

Put the bagel boards in the oven, on top of a baking sheet, set the timer for 17 minutes and another one for 5 (alternatively, put your soaked tea towel with your bagels, covering half of the baking sheet, in the oven)

When the 5 minutes timer goes off; turn your bagels by flipping your bagelboards to one side unto the baking sheet. If you are not using bagel boards flip the bagels individually, one by one; remove the tea towel. All bagels should now be face up. Close the oven.

Once your 17 minutes timer goes off, get your bagels out of the oven.

Place your bagels on a cooling rack.

Tip: Let your bagels cool for a bit, and enjoy your own Betterbagels Speculaas Bagels.

Back to Speculaas Spice Recipes

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