Around this time last year, I was strolling through the beautiful Jardin des Tuillieres in Paris with my closest friend, all the while still screaming in my head, OHMYGOD I’M IN PARIS!! Then, just as the sun was setting, we set out to locate our mandatory pre-dinner snack: extra large scoops of milky gelato.
My Europe trip was without a doubt one of the best trips I’ve had, though it wouldn’t have been the same without my friend Milos. We get along like nutella and bananas and our trip brought us even closer. To this day, we still joke about unforgettable moments from our trip, including the time he lost his glasses in the wave pool at the Gellért Baths and how we desperately dove into the deep-end endless times, lest he be blind for the rest of our trip, only to find out someone was kind enough to leave it with the lifeguard forty-five minutes ago.
Milos is one not only a great travel buddy, but an amazing friend as well, he’ll listen to me cry, rant, rave, and go off on a tangent about anything, he'll even stay on Skype video chat after I’ve accidentally fell asleep. He’s the only person I know who can make me laugh so hard I lose control of all my bodily fluids. Despite living six hours apart, Milos does a great job of staying in touch, something I’m wholeheartedly thankful for. We met at a mutual friend’s chocolate fondue party (a good kind of friend to have, in case you don’t have one yet), I was attracted to his wild mop of curls and invited him to a dinner party I was hosting the following week, and since then, we’ve bonded over many more meals, snacks, and desserts (SO many desserts).
One favourite food that we discovered in Europe was Speculoos. Oooh, Speculoos, it’s like music to my ears. If you haven’t tried it already, I beg you to cancel all your future plans and make it your new life goal to get a jar of this cookie spread with a sticks-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth texture and the sensational taste of a cinnamony, gingery, and warm spice. Put simply, pure awesome.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Europe and Speculoos and for a while wanted to make a cake out of it, so this is what I came up with. Milos, a Certified Speculoos Purist would condemn this, declaring it a fraud, “Liar! This ain’t Speculoos at all!” I know it’s not the real thing, but it's definitely Speculoos-inspired, and that to me, is good enough.
The cake turned out to be exactly what I hoped for: airy, light, not too sweet and easily shared among friends. I brought half the loaf to work and was immediately greeted with big toothy smiles from my colleagues, I kept reasonably sized snacking pieces in a tin box that sat behind my desk and whenever someone popped it open, the room filled with the warm, inviting spices of Speculoos: cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves. A thick slice is good on its own, but it’s even better slathered with a
Whole Wheat Speculoos Cake
Adapted from Jess of Sweet Amandine
The only change I made was adding more spices to give it a real paunch of Essence of Speculoos. As this bakes, your home will smell freaking good.
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or line with parchment paper, leaving ends to hang over the pan. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over the lowest possible flame.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, buttermilk (or yogurt), vanilla, and cinnamon. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
3. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until smooth.
4. Use a spatula to fold the melted butter into the batter in 3 additions. The batter will look very slick and oily at first, and you might wonder whether you’ve made a mistake somewhere along the way. Don't worry, keep folding, it will be okay.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, until the cake is a deep golden brown, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan for 5 minutes. Then, run a knife around the perimeter of the loaf or lift out form pan using ends of parchment paper, turn it out onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature.