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Saturday, September 3, 2016

September ABC challenge: speculaas-spiced honey bread

We just moved into a new office building and everyone was going to be unpacking and getting organized first thing Monday morning.  I thought I'd ease the way a little and bring in some fortification.  This spiced bread recipe seemed like the perfect thing, but in muffin form for easy handling.  I had an idea in mind as to how this was going to turn out, and I was excited, but it didn't quite work that way.  Partially, that was because I baked in muffin tins instead of a pan, which caused them to bake faster.  But otherwise, it was the recipe.  True, I didn't follow it exactly, but I don't think my changes should have had any impact on the results.

Here's what I used:

125 g (1¼ cups) fine whole grain, stone ground, dark rye flour
125 g (1¼ cups) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch 1/4 teaspoon salt
65 g (4½ tablespoons) melted butter
110 g (1/3 cup) honey
110 g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons speculaas spices (recipe below) or gingerbread /pumpkin pie spices
1 egg
200 g (7 ounces) buttermilk mix of Greek yogurt/milk

Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease or line an 8×8 inch baking tin. (I used muffin tins.) In a bowl, combine the sugar, honey, speculaas spices and melted butter and give it a quick whisk. Beat in the egg. Combine the flours with the baking soda and salt. Sift in the flour in about three stages, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the tin and make sure it is evenly distributed. Bake for 25 minutes, then turn down your oven down to 350° and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the gingerbread from the oven and let it cool in the tin for about 30 minutes. Wrapping it in foil while still warm helps it stay moist.

Speculaas spice mix (two quantities given -- all measurements are in teaspoons)
cinnamon                                  3 ¼       1 5/8
ground cloves                            1             1/2
grated nutmeg                            3/4        3/8
ground white pepper                   1/2         1/4
ground aniseed                          1             1/2
ginger powder                             1/2        1/4
cardamom powder                       1/4        1/8
totals                                        7 ¼       3 5/8

I'm not sure why they have you start at a higher temperature.  Baking soda, unlike baking powder, doesn't need heat to react.  And I baked the second tray at 350, since that's where the oven was, and they turned out the same.

I used my fluted muffin tins for this, thinking the cakelettes would be cute and perfect for work.  But the batter rose so much in the oven that the first batch, though I filled them only 3/4 full, came out completely round.  I put only about a heaping tablespoon in each cup in the second tray, and at least they came up only to the top of the cup, but still the tops are so rounded that I can't set them out with the decorative side up.  They look ridiculous.

As with every recipe I've made from this site, my batter was WAY too thick.  I added about 1/3 cup of water to it, just to loosen it up a bit, and it was still too thick.  I had to pat it down with a wet finger or I might have ended up with peaks and valleys from where the batter held its shape.  Consequently, with all the mixing, and perhaps also due to the high percentage of baking soda, I ended up with large holes.  My home economics teacher would not have been pleased.

Not a nice texture. 

Conclusion:  Very disappointing.  Very bland, and you can taste the baking soda.  Not at all what I had expected.  They rose tremendously while baking, so I think the soda could probably be cut in half.  (I wonder if there's an error in the recipe and it was supposed to be baking powder.)  And they definitely need more spice.  Just seems like the proportions are all wrong on this recipe.

Original recipe:  Dutch speculaas gingerbread cake with rye, buttermilk & honey via Weekend Bakery


  1. Sorry, I did giggle at "they look ridiculous" :) I think they look cute. I didn't realize you baked them in a muffin tin. I would have decreased the leavening in that case. The surface area is a lot smaller when baking in a muffin tin, so less leavening would work to create a flatter "top". As for the texture, that's pretty typical for this type of bread/cake. Yours matches the picture on WeekendBakery as well as mine.

    1. Really? I thought the original was much more dense. Or perhaps I just assumed. But I've never had a problem changing to muffin tins. I think I'd reduce the leavening no matter how I baked them. But, there are too many interesting recipes out there to bother with fussy ones, so I probably won't be making this again.