Wednesday 15th October 2014
In the ‘good old’ days speculaas biscuits were made using a wooden speculaas mould, like the antique one from the 19th century on the left.
The wooden speculaas mould is the old-fashioned cake form that the (home) baker used in order to make speculaas biscuits. These days of course all this has been mechanised.
It is thought that the Dutch name speculaas comes from the Latin speculum, which means mirror, as speculaas are the mirror image of the carved wooden moulds they are baked in.
Traditionally speculaas biscuits comes in the form of windmill shaped biscuits or male or female figurines, known as 'lovers', but these days they can take many shapes.
Young men used to decorate these figurines and give them to their sweetheart. If she accepted, she loved him back. That's apparently where the Dutch expression for flirting, “iemand versieren” (literally 'to decorate someone'), comes from.
It is also rumoured that the very first biscuits introduced to North America by Dutch settlers in the 'New World' were in fact speculaas biscuits ('koekjes'). Some even say that the English word 'cookie' owes its existence to the Dutch word koekje. Who am I to disagree!
Anyway, one thing though . . . whatever you do with your speculaas moulds, please, don't bake your speculaas biscuits in them. Instead, the mould acts more like a biscuit cutter. You put the speculaas dough into it to get it into the shape of whatever the mould is, then you remove it and bake the speculaas dough.
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