Chestnut flour 'speculoos' non sweet breakfast bread.
Chestnut flour ‘speculoos’ breakfast bread
In northern France some artisan bakers sell a non-sweet bread with ‘speculoos’ flavor. Speculoos is a spice mix that distantly resembles cinnamon but has a more robust and and complex flavor. It’s a powdered mix of cinnamon, cloves, mace and ginger, you can purchase it pre-ground or get the ingredients and mix your own. Traditionally it’s been used in mainly biscuits for centuries in Belgium/France/Germany. I’m currently on holiday in Belgium, about 100 miles from where the region in France where this bread is sold and where I live a local baker sometimes has it but alas, he’s on holiday. A visiting relative would have liked to try it and I decided to make my own version, using what ingredients I had laying around as this is not my primary residence.
The bread in question is a 33% chestnut flour (for the slightly sweet, nutty flavour), 70% white bread flour mix with a bit of sugar, speculoos spice mix, a bit of butter and one egg added. Didn’t have any sourdough culture on hand and as the incliation to make it struck at 7:30 pm I was not in the mood for an extended fermentation either so I used a quick bread approach with bread machine yeast. Hydration was 65% and I recommend not to go higher than that, chestnut flour has no gluten and absorbs liquid in a strange way, if you go higher than 65% you’ll end up with a lump of extremely sticky goo that’s all but impossible to knead, will require long, slow fermentation and baking in a bread tin. Just saying…
- Finely ground chestnut flour 85 grams (33%)
- White bread flour, 165 grams (66%)
- Speculoos spice mix 5 grams (2%)
- Sugar 10 grams (4%)
- Butter, softened and unsalted, 10 grams (4%)
- Egg, loosely beaten: 45 grams (1 small egg) (18%)
- Water, room temperature, 120 gram (48%)
- Salt, 5 gram (2%)
- Instant active yeast: 5 grams (2%)
Total: 450 grams ( small loaf), 180%
Put all solids in a bowl, add water, egg and butter, mix and let stand for 15 minutes (crucial for fluid absorbtion). Knead vigorously by hand for 10 minutes, the end result should be a silky smooth ball of dough that doesn’t stick. Put in a lightly greased bowl and allow to ferment for 25 minutes at 30 centigrade (I used an oven with a special function that allows me to just punch in the temp to be maintained anywhere between 25 and 300 centigrade). Stretch and fold, taking care not to expell all gas. Place back for another 20 minutes, then shape in a boule/batard or make small rolls. I then placed it in a banneton for its final rise, another 30 minutes at 30 centigrade (told you I was in a hurry but it’s a quick riser) and it had doubled.
Carefully place it on a baking mat (the structure is very delicate due to low gluten). It will deflate somewhat but that doesn’t matter. I didn’t score it. Bake for 45 minutes in a 190 centigrade oven using steam for the first half of the bake. Oven spring will be good. Watch the crust (chestnut flour tends to brown quickly) but be sure to give it a full bake.
The end result came out at 396 grams, crumb was well developed and it has a very soft structure, solid, hard crust. Delicious taste of chestnut flour so sligtly sweet but not overwhelmingly so, incredible speculoos fragrance/flavour. Goes very well with sautéed apples with herbs as well as with delicately flavoured cheeses and spreads. If you don’t want a pronounced speculoos flavour, bring down the speculoos herb mix to 3 grams. Optionally you could add raisins, chunks of dried apple or pearl sugar, even chocolate which pairs very well with the speculoos flavour.
Nutrition: 257 kCal/100 grams, 46/100 grams from egg,sugar and butter.
Mixing your own speculoos powder:
- 6 parts cinnamon powder
- 1 part mace powder
- 1 part powdered cloves
- 2 parts ginger powder
Watch the dosage because this is very strong!
This bread pairs very well with cheeses, fruit or chocolate spread.