Paris is a beautiful, beautiful city. I don’t think I’d ever get tired of staring at its intricate facades, its historic, gorgeous monuments or its cute little streets. But by far what I’ll never get tired of, is recalling this moment. When we chanced upon the Pantheon and I remembered reading on Messy Nessy Chic (WHAT A BLOG!!) that the little church steps where Owen Wilson sat waiting for the carriage in Midnight in Paris, was right behind it!
It was a pretty little church, tucked away from the usual hordes of tourists at the scenic Luxembourg Gardens. Quiet, quaint and an experience I’d never thought I’d have in two and a half days in Paris. Opposite the church was a cafe called Gaudeamus that served us hot cafe au laits that didn’t quite withstand the cold wind outside 🙂 Along with the coffees came these little biscuits. As we sipped and stared some more at the church, amazed at what a pretty location it was, it struck me that these little biscuits made the iconic Speculoos or Biscoff spread.
I had bought this jar of Speculoos at G. Detou (literally ‘I have everything), a little shop in Paris that stocks tubes of chestnut cream, fancy baking ingredients and a whole bunch of things I couldn’t pronounce. I even got some excellent dark, rich cocoa powder from there too. So when I saw those biscuits, I got unnaturally excited and couldn’t wait to get back and start stuffing everything I saw with Speculoos!
But what to make? Technically, it’s a biscuit spread. Did I want to put it inside cookies and make a biscuit within a biscuit? Why not. But then I saw this, which led me to this and that cake looked irresistible. Two reasons: Speculoos and the fact that it was vegan. I’m not vegan, but my fridge was. I was out of butter and eggs within the first 5 days of being back in India.
I guess I still haven’t stopped eating!
So Saturday resulted in this. So worth standing around a hot oven on a sweltering day.
I had to fiddle quite a bit with the recipe because spelt flour isn’t common this part of the world. So I used a mix of whole wheat and barley, and it was just perfect. Takes good care of all the guilt I brought back from Europe.
Another change. Instead of making a sweet Speculoos glaze, I decided to just melt some and drizzle it on top of the cake as is. It tastes a bit like a ginger cookie crossed with a caramel candy. And has a nutty aftertaste. It’s incredible. And then I thought, well why restrict the Speculoos to just the top of the cake? So I tossed some in there with the batter. Never be afraid to take risks, the results will be even more delicious than you thought 🙂
The cake itself. Soft, moist and rich. No waiting around for butter to soften, no beating eggs vigorously, no melting chocolate in a double boiler and still, the very same results. This recipe is a keeper! Even without the cane sugar and spelt flour. Anyone looking for a basic eggless chocolate cake recipe? This one is the one 🙂
The Speculoos flavour is subtle, it is still very much a chocolate cake! You could omit it completely and have the same amount of fabulous.
If you’re feeling brave, try an all whole-wheat version too, but I wasn’t sure whether without the mashed bananas, the density of whole-wheat flour would be conquered. But like I said, risks are delicious!
It comes together quickly and it tastes like you’ve slaved over it for days. I don’t know too many other cakes that do that.
Make make make!
What you’ll need:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup barley flour/regular flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coffee (I used a filter coffee powder from Kerala, instant should work too)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup Speculoos/Biscoff (I used only 1/4 but felt you can increase it to 1/3; the Speculoos can also be replaced by peanut butter)
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with a squeeze of lemon or a couple of drops of vinegar, set aside for a few minutes)
1 tsp vanilla
What to do:
1. Sift all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Barley flour can go in unsifted.
2. Preheat the oven to 175 C and grease a 9×5 loaf pan or a small round pan, or even 6 to 8 muffin moulds. This batter will fit in anywhere!
3. Mix the sugar and oil in a separate bowl till combined. Add the Speculoos and mix again.
4. Add the soured milk and vanilla and mix slowly till you have a smooth, brownish mixture.
5. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together till no lumps remain. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes till a toothpick poked into the center of the cake comes out clean. It won’t rise as much as a regular cake with eggs would.
6. Allow to cool and then drizzle with melted Speculoos! Slice, serve and be amazed.