Dikke speculaas (thick or tray-baked speculaas), a traditional Saint Nicholas and winter treat, is the type most commonly baked in the home, because it doesn’t require a lot of technique. It has no airs as the dough is just pushed out on a baking tray and baked as it is – no speculaas mould. The result is a chewy speculaas with a thin crusty edge and soft inside. You can push in the middle and it will spring back a little.
It should never be fully baked, as it becomes dry: 15–20 minutes is enough to leave the inner crumb still moist. When cold this speculaas becomes more crisp, yet baked correctly it will not turn dry, as usually it is long gone before it has a chance to dry out. A lot of bakers used to sell it as well, and some old-fashioned ones still do.
This is a family recipe for home-made thick speculaas from a man who has been a custodian of one of the oldest remaining authentic Belgian cafés. I wrote about him and his café, De Kat, in my book about this fragile Belgian heritage: Belgian Cafe Culture. Ever since he gave me this recipe I have made this speculaas often, and it has become a firm favourite with friends and family.Read More