This is my first bake for the South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club. The theme this time was "Secret Santa" and all the bakes were kept secret from the other club members.
For my bake I decided to go for a Dutch speciality, traditionally eaten on St Nicolas Day, the 5th December.
The recipe requires "speculaaskruiden" a special mix of spices typical for the "speculaas". It is a bit like mixed spice and you can easily make your own.
For the "speculaaskruiden":
20 gr cinnamon
5 gr cloves
5 gr mace
2 gr ginger
1 gr white pepper
1 gr cardamon
1 gr star anise
1 gr nutmeg
Use a spice grinder or pestel & mortar to grind all the spices together.
Every family probably has their own version of this, so you can adjust the quantities of the spices to suit your own taste.
For the marzipan (recipe from James Martin's "The Collection")
225 gr icing sugar
500 gr ground almonds
1 large free range egg (weighing about 75 gr)
3 to 4 teaspoons lemon juice
Sift the sugar into a bowl and mix in the almonds. Beat the egg well, then add it and the lemon juice to the dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon beat to a firm paste, then knead on a work surface that has been sprinkled with icing sugar.
This quantity will be too much for this cake, but the marzipan will keep well in the fridge for a week or so or several months in the freezer. Note of warning for anyone in the vunerable groups, marzipan contains raw egg!!
For the cake
250 gr self-raising flour
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons "speculaaskruiden"
150 gr soft dark brown sugar
150 gr butter, in smallish cubes
300 gr marzipan
2 tablespoons milk
50 gr blanched almonds
1 egg yolk
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 3
Mix the self-raising flour with the salt, speculaaskruiden and the sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in. Then add the milk and knead to a soft dough.
Grease a 20 cm (8 inch) tin and push half the dough in the bottom, top it with the marzipan, making sure this approx 1 cm (1/2 inch) away from the sides.
Top with the remainder of the dough and decorate with the almonds.
Beat the egg yolk (you can a bit of milk to lighten it, if you like) and brush the cake all over.
Bake in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave for 5 to 10 minutes before removing it from the tin.