Sinterklaas is a very special time in Holland. It’s the Christmas before Christmas, the time when St Nick comes on his horse from Spanje, bearing gifts and loads of warmly spiced cookies and candy. It’s also Amandelspijs time, when pastries and cakes are full of a marzipan-but-not-quite- almond filling which I learned to make at home last year. This filling often graces the innards of sweet puff pastry treats, the centres of cakes and is the filling between speculaas cookies. What I love about making mine, rather than buying it in the shop is the chance to flavor it with some of my favourtie ingredients – sweet, scented orange zest, orange blossom water and vanilla powder.
The Amandelspijs is best made 4-6 weeks in advance and left in the fridge to ‘rest’. Pffff. That’s for women and men who have nothing else to do. Between kids, husband, job, blog and food52, I’ve made it a couple of days in advance with stunning results. But….let it bloom if you can, at least overnight! The resulting cake is cousin to gingerbread recipes with a slight twist.
6 'dariole moulds' or 26cm diameter tart tin
1/3 cup flaked, raw almonds
100g plain flour, sifted
90g dark brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin spices
Seeds of 10 - 12 cardamoms, crushed or 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
4 tablespoons almond meal
Amandelspijs (recipe below)
75ml vanilla yogurt
60ml vegetable oil
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
150g almond meal
150g white caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
½ teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In This Recipe
Butter 6 dariole moulds or a 26cm diameter tart tin and then sprinkle some raw flaked almonds inside till a coating is formed on the base and sides of the containers.
Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
Remove the amandelspijs from the fridge and cut six thick slices, a couple of cm each in thickness.
In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, baking powder, pinch of salt, almond meal, pumpkin spices and ground cardamom/cardamom powder, whisking together to combine.
Whisk the wet ingredients to combine in another bowl: the yogurt, oil, eggs, golden syrup, orange zest and vanilla extract. Then make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour this wet mix into the well and gently stir to combine with a spatula, ensuring you mix the ingredients at the base, till well combined.
Begin with a couple of tablespoons of cake batter, followed by disc of amandelspijs and topped with another couple of tablespoons of cake batter. Then sprinkle some flaked almonds over the top. The mould should be just over halfway full if using darioles. Repeat for all the other moulds. If using a tart tin, pour in cake batter, and break up amandel spijs into little bits which you should drop around the batter. Then finish off with flaked almonds.
Place cake moulds on baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 – 35 minutes till the top is browned and a skewer or cake tester comes out clean.
Delicious with vanilla ice cream or custard and perfect on its own with a cuppa tea
Make the amandelspijs by combining all the ingredients together in a bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix all the ingredients together till well combined. Then collect into a ball and place on a large piece of clingfilm.
Place the mix in the centre and gently shape into a sausage-style log, measuring about 15 cm. Once rolled up, seal both ends and place in the fridge to rest