Last Saturday, on a crisp autumn day, it was finally time for the Dutch baking blogger meet which had been planned by Mannin of baksels.net. I had been looking forward to this meet for a while, meeting like-minded Dutch bakers, chatting, and a lovely day of baking. We all participated in a workshop on speculaas baking in the Bakery Museum (Bakkerijmuseum) in the idyllic Hanze town of Hattem. As you might know, Sinterklaas has arrived in the Netherlands and in anticipation, we got to bake speculaas (a typical Sinterklaas treat) in two varieties: “poppen” (literally translated as dolls) and “gevuld” (filled).
Upon arrival in the museum, the warm, home-y smell of speculaas spices came over us (nothing can make me hungrier!). We were greeted with tea, coffee and, of course, some speculaas cookies. We then met our workshop teacher in the kitchen, where she showed us a HUMONGOUS speculaas mold, which had been carved on two sides (the king on the one side, and (presumably) the queen on the other). She told us that by buying certain designs of speculaas, you could show your loyalty (or disloyalty!) to the king. Were you a supporter of the king, then you’d buy a king shaped (and sized) speculaas with a dog (as we know, dogs are loyal, hence the symbolism), otherwise you’d buy one without. Now thát is a tasty alternative to a campaign poster!
Speculaas dolls could also help men woo women. During the yearly market (around the same time Sinterklaas would arrive), men could buy a doll for their crush, after which they would be invited to Sunday tea if they were lucky. The mother of the lady would then cross-examinate the guy in question to ascertain whether he was good enough for her daughter. If he was found suitable she would break the head off the doll, otherwise the legs would come off. Some subtle symbolism there! If the lady in question didn’t see any future with the guy herself, then he would immediately be handed a “taai” doll, another Sinterklaas treat of which you will soon find a recipe on my blog.
After the historical introduction to speculaas, we were invited to bake some ourselves! A group of bloggers in a workshop means that everyone was taking pictures throughout, luckily our teacher didn’t mind! It was a “gezellig” (cosy) affair, everyone chatting whilst turning out beautiful dolls which we decorated with almonds and pearl sugar. We then got to sample some of the museum’s filled speculaas, after which we had a go at it ourselves. We all made cute heart shaped filled speculaas, which tasted fantastically!
I had a great time in the museum, baking and strolling through the museum. I got really inspired to pass on the acquired knowledge and I have invited some of my cousins to bake next week! Of course, I will post a recipe for a speculaas afterwards. Until then, feel free to check out some of my other Sinterklaas recipes:
Dutchies: if you want to participate in a workshop yourself , check out the Bakkerijmuseum Hattem website! I can highly recommend their workshops!