Tuesday 11th October 2016
As far as I know there is no real Dutch tradition to making Christmas cakes. So, doing a speculaas Christmas cake is a bit of an experiment for me.
I am taking the lead from GBBO finalist Brendan Lynch's speculaas Christmas pudding. I am following his advice to start at least six weeks before Christmas.
So, about now - early October: the first preparations.
Making a speculaas Christmas cake is done in four phases, including 'soak', 'bake', 'feed' and 'decorate' (optional).
Exact timings for best result
1. The day before you bake the cake, the dried and candied fruits need soaking
2. The day you bake the cake, sprinkle it with vandotsch speculaas spice liqueuer and wrap it well
3. Thereafter, until one week before Christmas, and once a week extract the cake, punch it with a skewer, sprinkle it with vandotsch speculaas spice liqueur, and then re-pack it.
Note: In the six to eight weeks when your cake 'rests', the taste becomes better. There are so many different ingredients in speculaas Christmas cake, so it takes time to arrive at a single harmonic taste.
4. optional - A week before Christmas is the most fun, decorating the Christmas cake. In the week before Christmas you can decorate your speculaas Christmas cake with marzipan which you drape as a blanket over the cake.
Tip: the marzipan layer needs time to dry before it can be covered with fondant coat. Or, just before cutting your just sprinkle with icing sugar and decorate with dried fruit.
Here are the ingredients I used to make the vandotsch speculaas Christmas cake, including:
Makes 12 - 15 slices
You need a springform pan or cake tin - diameter 24 cm
Day 1: Soak
Make a pot of tea (I use a ginger infus ed teabag), pour out in a large bowl and add all the dried fruit, currants, raisins, cherries, and cranberries (hereinafter together called 'dried fruit mixture'. Leave to soak overnight.
Day 2: Bake
Wash the orange and lemon, dry and grate. Squeeze the whole orange for orange juice. Squeeze half a lemon.
Drain the 'dried fruit mixture'. Put the dried fruit mixture, orange and lemon zests and juice, vandotsch speculaas spice liqueuer, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat.
Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the vandotsch speculaas spice mix at the last moment and mix well.
Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
Heat your oven to 150C.
Line your cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment
Add all the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip into your prepared cake tin and level the top with a spatula.
Wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside, and, on top – tie with a string to secure
Bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hours
Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of vandotsch speculaas spice liqueur.
Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin
LIne a cake tin with two layers of clingfilm - across. On top of the clingfilm add two pieces of baking parchment
Once your cake has completely cooled peel off the baking parchment and lift it into your lined cake tin. Cover your cake with the parchment paper and wrap the clingfilm
Store in a dark cupboard or fridge
3. Once a week: Infuse
Once a week, while your cake remains in the cake tin, unwrap the top of your cake and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of vandotsch speculaas spice liqueur. Re-pack, as per above
Don’t infuse the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.
4. a week before Christmas, or when you start eating the cake: Decorate
During the week before Christmas unwrap the top of your cake and decorate it with marzipan which you drape as a blanket over the cake. The marzipan layer needs time to dry before it can be covered with fondant coat. Re-pack, as per above
Or . . .
Just before cutting your vandotsch speculaas Christmas cake just sprinkle with icing sugar and decorate with dried fruit.
Enjoy - Merry Christmas!
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