The holiday season is upon us and so are the boundless excuses to wear elastic waistband pants. I love the smell of Christmas. Cinnamon, cloves and oranges, candied almonds and mulled wine. The woody smell of fresh fir trees. Cookies fresh from the oven.
Every year I add a new type of cookie to my cookie jar, and I think speculaas might be it this year. I tend to like my Christmas cookies dark and quite spiced, but certain classics like vanilla wreaths or sugar cookies I leave as they are. I have received strict orders on that.
Pie isn't a typical Christmas treat to eat in Denmark, but that's such a shame. Who in their right mind wouldn't swoon over flaky, crispy pastry covering a juicy, bubbly fruit or berry filling? So I wanted to make a pie that had combined Scandinavian, something European and something American all in one delicious package.
When I looked at speculaas recipes I thought the spices would go lovely with a christmassy red berry pie. Cranberries have a lovely citrusy flavour that pairs well with both citrusy coriander and warming cloves, cinnamon and ginger as well as the many other spices in the mix. Lingonberries and cherries are both typical for a Scandi Christmas in Sweden and Denmark, and both taste wonderful combined with citrusy flavours. To balance the tart berries I added a layer of almond paste underneath the fruity filling.
Speculaas spiced Christmas berry pie
Speculaas spiced flaky pastry
225g all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
¼ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
⅛ tsp. ground aniseed
30g light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
225g cold unsalted butter cut into 1½ cm pieces
115g very cold water
Whisk together flour, spices, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add in the butter cubes and toss with flour. Smash each cube flat between your fingertips, stir in water and quickly gather the dough to a ball.
Generously flour a work surface and roll dough into a 30x45cm rectangle. Fold the 30cm sides to the center and then fold one side on top of the other in a bookfold. Fold over one last time to make a block. Cut in two and wrap in clingfilm. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes before rolling one half of the dough block into a roughly 30cm circle. Line a 23cm pie plate with the dough and trim the edge so it overhangs by 2cm all around.
Roll remaining piece of dough to a 30cm circle or a 30x45cm rectangle depending on the top you choose. If making cutouts place them on a piece of parcment lined cutting board. In any case wrap the dough lined pie plate and topping in cling film and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
200g almond paste
250g cranberries, fresh or frozen
250g lingonberries, fresh or frozen
250g pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
210g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. heavy cream
Sprinkling of turbinado or granulated sugar
Roll out the almond paste into a 23cm disc and fit into the bottom of the pie on top of the crust.
Combine cranberries, lingonberries and cherries with orange juice, sugar, salt and cornstarch in a large bowl, folding until combined. Spoon the filling on top of the almond paste and top with remaining dough in design of your choosing. Trim away excess dough and refrigerate pie to ensure the crust is completely chilled, about 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 200C and adjust oven rack to middle or lower middle position.
Whisk egg and cream together and brush over the chilled top crust in an even layer. Sprinkle with a little sugar, if you want. I personally like it, but it's not really necessary to make the finished pie pretty.
Bake the pie for about 1 hour and 15-20 minutes on a parchment clad baking sheet. Cover the pie with foil for the last 15-20 minutes, so the crust stays golden and delicious.
Serve the pie slightly warm with ice cream or at room temperature with whipped cream or creme fraiche - either is very, very good.