Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Almond & Cranberry Speculaas Pies

Speculaas biscuits are a firm favourite at Christmas which are very popular in Western Europe, places like Holland and Belgium.  I had seen a recipe a while back, from Weekend Bakery which was a biscuit pastry pie flavoured with speculaas spices and filled with almond paste and cranberry jam.  I have been wanting to make them, so even though they are more usually a Christmas treat, I baked them today.

I just love the texture of the biscuit pastry, which has baking powder in to give an airiness to it.  Add into that the spices, almond paste and cranberry jam and the result is really wonderful.  I think this year they will feature alongside mince pies for my Christmas.  

The recipe is quite simple, though it is best to make an almond paste in advance, though it can be done on the day.  The amount of time is elongated by waiting for the dough to chill.  But it doesn't take too long at all.

I am very pleased with how mine turned out, though I had more pastry dough than I needed, as I used a bun tin which made smaller pies than is usual.  But that pastry wasn't wasted as I simply made biscuits with it.

Although the recipe calls for speculaas spice, which I had already made, if it isn't available mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg is a good subsitute, so for 12g/5tsp it would be 3.5 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg.
Almond & Cranberry Speculaas Pies

                       Almond & Cranberry Speculaas Pies - Video
Ingredients:
For the pie dough:
  • 400g(3 cups + 2 tbsp) pastry flour/plain flour
  • 12g(3 tsp) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12g(5 tsp) speculaas spice
  • 250g(2 sticks _2 Tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 250g(1 1/4cups)soft light brown sugar
  • 15ml(1 tbsp) milk/yoghurt
For almond paste:
  • 75g almonds or ground almonds
  • 75g caster sugar
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1tbsp water
  • 1 beaten egg(you wont need all the egg for the paste but will use the remainder later)
  • +100g cranberry compote or jam
  • Almonds to decorate
Method:
  1. Make the almond paste by placing almonds and caster sugar into a processor(I used my immersion blender) and blitz until a fine crumb is achieved.
  2. Add the lemon zest and blitz again.
  3. Tip the mixture into a bowl and add water a little at a time, mixing until a thick paste is formed, it must not be too wet.
  4. Wrap the paste in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
  5. In a bowl mix the flour, spices, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl place the butter and soft brown sugar and cream together(I used my hand mixer), until all is combined.
  7. Add the milk and mix in.
  8. Add the flour mixture and mix until all is combined and beginning to clump together.
  9. Use a hand to knead the mixture into one large ball of dough.
  10. Flatten to a disc and wrap in plastic wrap and then refrigerate for one hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan 340F.
  12. Have a bun pan and a baking tray(lined) available.
  13. Take the almond paste from the fridge and break into pieces in a bowl.
  14. Add a little beaten egg and mix together, using your hands if necessary, until you have a thick, smooth paste, not runny.  You wont need much egg at all, less than 1/2.
  15. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 3mm(1/8 inch).
  16. If making free form pies cut 20 rounds of 9.5 cm(3 3/4 inches), or for bun tin pies cut out about 15 rounds of 8cm(3 1/4 inch) and 15 rounds of 7cm(2 3/4 inch).
  17. Place 1/2 the discs onto a baking sheet(or 2) leaving a decent space between each, or place the 8cm discs into the bun tin gently pushing to the bottom and up the sides.
  18. Spoon almond paste mixture onto each, using all the paste.
  19. Spread gently, leaving a gap around the edge of those on a baking tray, dipping a finger into the egg wash helps when spreading.
  20. Spoon the cranberry jam onto the almond paste.
  21. Place a disc of pastry over the top and press around the sides to ensure the upper and lower disc of pastry are touching, to seal.  
  22. If using the baking tray method use a form to make a pattern around the edge of the pastry, helping to seal it.
  23. Brush egg wash over the surface of the pies.
  24. Place an almond on top and press down gently.
  25. Egg wash again.
  26. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes until the pies are a lovely golden brown.(I baked mine fore 24 minutes).
  27. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least ten minutes, Then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


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