Speculaas Spiced Almond & Buckwheat Cake
With spiced white chocolate mascarpone,
macerated blackberries and caramelised almonds
You won’t believe how pleased I was with this cake!
Well, perhaps you will believe, but you might be wondering why? What’s so special about it?
Let’s start with…
1. It’s gluten free.
2. I’ve never experimented with gluten free baking.
3. It was absolutely perfect.
If you are not familiar with buckwheat, and you find yourself wondering how something with wheat in the name could be classed as gluten free, well, it is. Despite the name, buckwheat has no relation to wheat, and is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb, knotweed and sorrel.
Buckwheat has a delicious nutty flavour, which obviously goes well with the almond meal in terms of flavour, but in a cake such as this it also adds a beautifully smooth velvet like texture to an otherwise grainy almond cake.
As the title of this post suggests, this cake was inspired by the vandotsch speculaas spice mix, a sample of which was sent to me courtesy of The Speculaas Spice Company.
Ever tried speculaas biscuits? I haven’t! But I suppose that’s no surprise, since I grew up in Australia, and this spiced shortcrust biscuit is a Netherlands favourite traditionally baked for the feast of St Nicholas.
It was, however, a young Steven Dotsch, growing up in Amsterdam in a time when traditional family recipes were favoured over the mass produced, who’s love of these biscuits inspired the creation of the vandotsch speculaas spice mix.
This secret Dutch family recipe uses a mixture of organic and fairtrade sourced spices, including high grade cinnamon from Sri Lanka, cloves, ginger and six other spices.
Let me just take this moment to say: this stuff is incredible, even the smell will blow you away.
So, although you could make this cake with a regular spice mix, or just plain cinnamon (or without, if you’re not a fan), the speculaas spice mix is pretty special, and I’d certainly recommend giving it a try.
Speculaas Spiced Almond & Buckwheat Cake
Yield: one 8″ – 9″ cake, depending on depth of cake tin
150g (3/4 cup) buckwheat groats
160g (1 2/3 cup) almond meal
180g (3/4 cup) sugar
8g (1.5 Tbsp) vondotsch speculaas spice
4 medium eggs, separated
65g greek yoghurt (strained, if you can get it)
1/2 an orange, juice only
25ml whole milk
Cup measures are an approximation, use weight measures where possible
Use 80g of buckwheat flour instead of groats if you can not process them
This particular spice mix is quite potent, and I have used a fair amount – adjust to taste
Preheat oven to 180°C/350° F/Gas Mark 4, and prepare an 8 or 9 inch cake tin. I used a deep loose bottom tart tin, greasing the sides of the tin and lining the base with baking paper.
If you are using buckwheat groats, place them into a food processor and process until you are left with a fine flour.
Sift the flour into a bowl using a fine sieve, and discard any of the larger leftover pieces. You should be left with 80g buckwheat flour, which is what you will need for this recipe.
Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the egg yolks one at a time and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.
Combine the buckwheat flour, almond meal and spice mix, then beat this into your creamed mixture in three parts, alternating with the yoghurt. Stir in the orange juice, then add the milk.
Beat the egg whites until they begin to foam, add in a Tbsp of sugar, then continue to beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until cake skewer comes out clean (crumbs ok, no uncooked batter).
Turn out onto your cake stand, and dust with icing sugar.
1/2 orange, juice only
60ml dark rum
Place the berries into a bowl, pour over the rum, then stir in half the sugar. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the berries, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Tip: Leave overnight for best results.
100g blanched almonds
100g caster sugar
1 Tbsp butter
Chop the almonds roughly, then set aside.
Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan until pale amber in colour, then quickly stir through the almonds, coating them in the syrup.
Spread the coated almonds onto a piece of parchment paper while they are still hot, using a spoon to separate the pieces as much as possible.
Spiced White Chocolate Mascarpone
100g white chocolate
1/2 tsp vandotsch speculaas spice mix
Gently melt the chocolate either over a double boiler, or in the microwave, then set aside to cool. Whisk in the mascarpone a little at a time, then add in the spice mix.
Serve the cake with a spoonful of macerated berries, a dollop of spiced mascarpone and a scattering of caramelised almonds.