The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

almond paste

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freerk's picture

**second update: I have included a picture of the speculaas rolls as properly formed. In my first attempt I tried to make Levine's rolls look like stars more than flowers, but actually, the round shape is much nicer, I think!

**update: there is a minor mistake in the recipe and video, that I have corrected: the 30 gr. of lemon zest in the original recipe is meant to say: candied lemon zest" which has a lot more moisture in it and is a lot less "lemony" When using pure zest; use about 2 lemons of zest (which is still a lot, but the recipe is benefiting from that!) Sorry for the hick up!

Levine's Divine Speculaas Rolls

Craving Speculaas

Why do we crave certain foods or ingredients on particular moments in time? A turkey tastes like a turkey in July, but still we prefer to eat the lot of them towards the end of November. A raspberry, for instance, is best eaten when it is around, of course... I understand my craving when that time comes, but why have we made a turkey seasonal?

Here in Amsterdam, the shops are filled to the hilt with speculaas in all sorts, shapes and sizes the year round. Yet, it is when winter rolls in that the Dutch start to consume it by the bucket full. On occasion I will treat myself to a nice box of speculaas cookies in the middle of summer (from a real bakery rather than from the supermarket of course), but it's not until the "oliebollenkraam" has appeared on the bridge around the corner and in our back yard the "winter tree" (as I call it, 'cause I have no clue what sort of tree it is) starts to bloom, that my speculaas consumption suddenly goes through the roof.

"Tradition" I hear you say; we eat turkey for Thanksgiving, speculaas when winter is upon us and Pan de Jamón for Christmas (if you would be Venezuelan or married to one).

So... we are okay with more "summer" in our food in winter, even if that means the strawberries need to be shipped in from halfway around the globe. But we don't want to be remembered of winter in the middle of summertime, even if all ingredients are readily available. I mean; I eat summery salads in December, but never oliebollen in full blown spring.

We all have that bottle of liquor in the cabinet that tasted so exquisite on that little terrace in Rome, but didn't quite hit the spot on a dreary autumn afternoon back home. I guess it is indeed tradition, or maybe more accurate; a ritual.

Speculaas spices are very much comparable to allspice in the U.K., or Pumpkin Pie Spice in the U.S. It's warm, brown, comforting and forgiving. Eating it is almost a message to our bodies to be prepared for things to come. Smelling it coming into the kitchen, makes you forgive the hailstorm that just spat its icy daggers in your face on the way home.

This recipe is put together by my much admired baking friend Levine. It shot straight to my comfort baking top 3 because of its original flower shape and the great taste combination of almond paste with a royal zing of lemon zest. It makes the end result less sweet than a lot of speculaas/almond paste recipes that are floating around. All of you Dutch readers, please follow the link for the Dutch recipe on Levine's blog, after watching the video of course :-)

Levine's Divine Speculaas Rolls

The dough:

500 gr. bread flour
50 gr. sugar
10 gr. speculaas spices (or a bit more for a stronger taste, formula below)
10 gr. instant yeast
185 gr. lukewarm milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
55 gr. unsalted softened butter
2 big eggs, whisked
8 gr. salt

The filling

300 gr. almond paste
± 2 TBS egg
30 gr. candied lemon zest, or the zest of 2 lemons


Described is the method using a stand mixer, but the dough can of course also be mixed using a bread machine, as well as kneaded by hand. If using a bread machine; follow the recipe from the first rise after the machine kneading.

Put the flour, sugar, speculaas spices, yeast, salt and the clumps of softened butter in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Add milk and eggs, mix together, and knead with a dough hook for 10-15 minutes to develop a supple dough. The dough can be a little sticky.

First Rise

Transfer the dough to an oiled container, making sure it is covered all over. Cover and let the dough rise until doubled in about one hour.

Meanwhile, mix together the almond paste, egg and lemon zest. Shape into 15 equal balls.


Turn out the dough on a lightly oiled work surface. Divide the dough in 15 equal pieces and shape them into tight balls. Leave them to rest for 15 minutes.

Flatten the balls of dough in the palm of your hand or with your rolling pin. Put a ball of almond paste in the center and fold in the almond paste, making sure to pinch the seams well.

Put the ball seam down on your working space and roll out again carefully, making sure it keeps its circular shape and the almond paste is spread out evenly. With a dough cutter make eight slits in the dough, leaving the center in tact. Then pair up two petals, twist them so that their sides touch and the almond paste is showing as a swirl. Pinch them together on the bottom.

Divide the rolls on 2 baking sheets, placing them with enough space in between. Carefully flatten the rolls on the baking paper or baking mat. Cover well with oiled cling film and leave to proof until almost doubled in size, in almost an hour.


Bake the rolls in the middle of a preheated oven for about 15 minutes until golden on 180° C. Put them on a rack to cool.

Speculaas Spices; home made

30 g cinnamon
10 g cloves
10 g nutmeg
5 g white pepper
5 g aniseed
5 g coriander seed

Mix all ground spices together and store in a small airtight container.

There are many varieties and tweaks out there, I really like this one. As long as the base is the same, you can tweak your speculaas spices, just the way you like it.

Enjoy! Please feel free to comment and subscribe if you want me to keep you updated. Also I want to ask you to endorse my growing BreadLab initiative on Facebook; every like gets me closer to realizing a 6 episode "breadomentary", chasing the beast bread the world has to offer. Thanks in advance!


freerk's picture

Hey guys, I need your help!

So my brother saw my breads and now he wants in on it :-)

He wants me to make him and his wonderful family my variation on a traditional regional Dutch currant-bread associated with the holidays. At Xmas, New Years, but also at Easter, in the East and North of the Netherlands a lot of people eat this traditional "krentenwegge" (a heavy currantbread with an almondpaste filling). This is what the original loaf looks like...


You'll have to imagine the almond paste filling in the middle, I could not find a very satisfying pic.


There are numerous traditional recipes going around on the net, BUT.....

I never really liked these breads as a kid. I'm not too big on currants, but a big lover of almond paste, so as a kid I always found myself in a dilemma; I want the almond paste, but do I really need to eat ALL those currants to get it...? After getting too old to eat the almond paste and feed the rest to the dog, I just left the bread for what it was...


Until now! I want to make a lighter version of this bread. I want it to look like a buttermilk cluster (fresh out of the oven here today :-)


and preferably with the sweet taste of polenta dough, where I replace the currants with a decent amount of dried candied cranberries (also fresh out of the oven here today):


The idea is to fill each individual roll in the cluster with a little almond paste whilst forming the rolls. I'm not at all certain about the polenta dough, but somehow I feel it could give me the crumb that I'm looking for (light, airy, yellowy...). Also the sweetness of the polenta could taste great with the almonds and cranberries. That is; if I manage to get it as light and airy as I have it my mind's eye :-)


Before embarking on this triple-fusion baking experiment I would like to hear your input on what dough to choose for this sweet bread. I've also been thinking about the dough for the cream cheese braid. Could that be a viable option?


Thanks to the members here who originally posted these two recipes here. I can't really find out anymore who posted the originals, but you guys know who you are; Thanks a bunch!


I'd love to hear from you guys




ques2008's picture

Finally got myself an inexpensive digital camera and would like to show off one of my "creations" which is far from original.  I'm sure many of you have made this danish ring.  I got this recipe from  Cooks Country is a great web site, by the way, and would like to know how many of you are members and whether or not you use your membership.  They seem to have a gold mine of knowledge with truckloads of practical advice.  I'm thinking of signing up.

Anyway, I'm showing pictures of the (1) preparation for the dough where I slather it with the filling, (2) the finished product and (3) the product partially gobbled up.  I halved the recipe, and didn't quite succeed with the cutting and the turning upside of each slice, but the recipe gives a step-by-step.  I'll try it again one day, and hopefully, get the technique right!

Picture 1:  Prepping the dough.

 prepping the dough


2.  Danish ring fresh out of the oven:

danish ring as it came out of the oven

3.  And now, as it was partially eaten (closer look of slices - as you can see I did not quite do the slices with flying colors!)

partially eaten ring



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