Winter village gingerbread & speculoos cake

Winter village gingerbread & speculoos cake

Winter village gingerbread & speculoos cake, Peggy Porschen: A Year in Cake: Seasonal recipes and dreamy style secrets from the prettiest bakery in the world. Photography by Paul Plews.

Peggy Porschen: A Year in Cake: Seasonal recipes and dreamy style secrets from the prettiest bakery in the world Seasonal baking recipes for special occasions, from the world’s prettiest bakery. With its fairytale pink facade and picture-perfect cupcakes, the Peggy Porschen Parlour has become a destination bakery for sweet-toothed Londoners and tourists from all around the world.

Over half a million people follow Peggy’s creations and seasonal floral displays on Instagram and her customers flock to her London Parlours often dressed in ”Peggy pink” for an exquisite sweet treat.

This book pays tribute to the magic Peggy weaves with her bakes through every season. Going through the year and punctuated by special occasions like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas, the recipes cover cakes, iced cookies and cupcakes and reflect the changing seasons.

The more technical bakes are illustrated with clear step-by-step photography. Peggy also shares some of her unique style secrets covering spring, summer, fall and winter so that fans can recreate this stunning lifestyle at home.

Peggy Porschen: A Year in Cake: Seasonal recipes and dreamy style secrets from the prettiest bakery in the world is available at and

Winter village gingerbread & speculoos cake

A festive Christmas centrepiece, and an opportunity to share your very own masterpiece baked with love. Inspired by the spiced cookie that’s so popular especially in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, this recipe combines a scrumptious speculoos sponge, layered with yummy caramelised cookie spread and masked with speculoos meringue buttercream. The hand-piped winter village cake toppers are made of gingerbread cookies and will fill your room with warming aromas of sugar and spice.

Makes a 15cm (6in) cake (serves 10)

For the gingerbread cookies

105g (3½oz/½ cup) light brown sugar
1½ tbsp treacle
1½ tbsp golden syrup (light corn syrup)
1½ tbsp ground ginger
1½ tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
2½ tbsp water
125g (4½oz/½ cup plus 1 tbsp) salted butter, cold and diced
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), sifted
280g (10oz/2 cups plus 2 tbsp) plain (all-purpose) flour, (plus extra for dusting)
2 heaped tbsp Royal Icing (see page 167)
1 tbsp caster sugar

For the vanilla sugar syrup

75g (2½oz/1⁄3 cup) caster sugar
75ml (2½fl oz/1⁄3 cup) water
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the caramel sponge

90g (3¼oz/6 tbsp) unsalted butter
pinch of salt
200g (7oz/1 cup) caster sugar
120g (4¼oz/2⁄3 cup less 1 tbsp) dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium eggs
225g (8oz/1¾ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
190g (63⁄4oz/¾ cup) buttermilk
1 tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

For the speculoos filling about 150g (5½oz) crunchy speculoos spread (eg Lotus Biscoff)

For the speculoos meringue buttercream

35ml (2 tbsp) water
150g (5½oz/¾ cup) caster sugar
80g (2¾oz) egg whites (from approx. 3 eggs)
200g (7oz/¾ cup plus 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, diced and softened
175g (6oz/2⁄3 cup) smooth speculoos spread (eg Lotus Biscoff)

For the decorations

star aniseed
a few white mini meringue kisses (store-bought: see Stockists, page 182 – or make your own: see Meringue Kisses, page 180) white mini sugar pearls

Specialist equipment (see page 164 for a basic equipment list and page 182 for stockists)

cocktail sticks (toothpicks)
selection of mini gingerbread house cookie cutters selection of mini Christmas tree cookie cutters
2 small piping bags, or make 2 of your own paper piping bags (see page 168)
3 x 15cm (6in) shallow cake tins 15cm (6in) thin cake board piping bag

To make and decorate the gingerbread cookies

Soak about 10 cocktail sticks in water.

Put the sugar, treacle, golden syrup, ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves and water into a deep saucepan and bring to the boil while stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and gradually add the diced butter. Stir until combined.

Add the bicarbonate of soda while whisking constantly—take care as the mixture will swell up. Transfer into the bowl of an electric mixer, cover with a towel or cling film and leave to cool down to room temperature.

Sift the flour on top of the batter and slowly mix together to a slightly wet and sticky dough using a paddle attachment. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 2 hours or until cool and firm.

While the dough is chilling, line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Remove the dough from the fridge and gently knead it and form into a smooth ball.

Place the dough onto a smooth surface lightly dusted with flour and roll it out to a thickness of 3-4mm (1⁄8in).

Cut out 3 different-sized gingerbread houses, and a few Christmas trees and place them on the prepared tray. (Any leftover dough can be frozen for up to 1 month or used to make more cookies for the Christmas table. A selection of mini gingerbread men always goes down a treat if served with mulled wine or hot chocolate during the festive season.)

Push a few soaked cocktail sticks halfway into the bottom of each cookie; these will later be pushed into the cake to help the cookies stand upright.

Chill the cookies again for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180oC fan/400oF/Gas 6.

Bake the cookies for 6–8 minutes until they spring back to the touch and the edges are slightly darkened. Leave to cool on the tray.

Mix 1 tbsp royal icing with a drop of water to achieve a soft peak piping consistency (see page 167 for guidance on royal icing consistencies).

Spoon the icing into a small piping bag and snip a small tip off the end. Pipe the outlines for the snow along the rooftops, chimneys and windowsills on the houses.

Pipe squiggly lines across the trees and sprinkle with some of the caster sugar while the icing is wet to give the icing a snowy texture.

Mix the remaining royal icing with a little bit more water to a runny consistency and spoon it into another small piping bag. Snip a small tip off the end and use this runny icing to flood the middles of the outlines on the houses.

While the icing is still wet, sprinkle the caster sugar over the top and allow to dry.


To make the vanilla sugar syrup

Put the sugar, water and vanilla extract in a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.


To make the caramel sponges

Preheat the oven to 175oC fan/375oF/Gas 5. Grease 3 x 15cm (6in) shallow cake tins with oil spray and line the bases with baking parchment.

Put the butter, salt, both sugars and vanilla extract into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. This will take a while, so do this as a first step to allow plenty of time to aerate the mixture.

Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then slowly pour them into the butter and sugar mix while beating on medium speed. Watch as the eggs combine with the butter mix and stop pouring if the batter needs time to come together, then add more. The eggs and butter should both be at room temperature to avoid splitting. However, should the mixture split, add 1 tbsp flour to bring the batter back together before adding more egg.

Alternating between the 2, add the flour and the buttermilk to the batter in batches and mix until combined.

Mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda together in a small bowl and immediately, as it bubbles up, add it to the batter.

Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30–35 minutes, depending on your oven. The sponges are cooked when the edges come away from the sides of the cake tin and the tops spring back to the touch. A skewer inserted in the middle of the sponge should come out clean when ready.

Leave the sponges to rest in the tins for a few minutes and brush the tops with the sugar syrup. This will prevent the cakes from forming a hard crust and the heat will ensure the moisture and flavour are absorbed evenly.

Once slightly cooled, unmould the sponges from the cake tins carefully without breaking the edges – use a small kitchen knife to release the sides if required. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.


To make the speculoos meringue buttercream

Make the meringue buttercream following the instructions on page 176, but using the quantities listed in this recipe on page 148.

Once you have made the meringue buttercream, fold in the smooth speculoos spread and mix until combined.

To assemble and decorate the cake

Start following the instructions for preparing the cake on page 172, up to the stage at which you’ve placed the first sponge layer on the cake board.

Spoon 2 tbsp of the speculoos buttercream into a piping bag and snip a medium tip off the end. Pipe a 5mm (1⁄4in) thick ring around the edge of the sponge layer. Use a spoon to fill the buttercream ring with the crunchy speculoos spread.

Place the middle sponge layer on top (the one that has been trimmed on both sides).

Using a palette knife, spread an even layer of speculoos buttercream on top of the sponge, about 5mm (1⁄4in) thick.

Place the third sponge on top, brown side up.

Ensure that all the sponges are centred and the top of the cake is level. Tidy up any bits of buttercream that are squeezing out from around the edges with a palette knife.

Coat the cake all around with more buttercream using a palette knife and side scraper. The first buttercream coat is also called a ‘crumb coat’ as its purpose is to hold the crumbs in place and create a solid basic shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it’s fine if some cake crumb shows through the buttercream. Let the buttercream set in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Once the crumb coat has set, mask the cake with a perfectly smooth and even layer of buttercream.

Create a swirl on the top using the palette knife and turntable. Hold the tip of the palette knife down into buttercream, starting in the centre of the cake top. Start swivelling the turntable and, as it spins, gradually move the palette knife toward the outside until you reach the edge. Transfer the cake back to the fridge and chill until the buttercream has set.

Stick the gingerbread cookies into the cake top, arranging them in a village formation, with the larger cookies at the back.

Place the star aniseeds and meringue kisses around the village and sprinkle white sugar pearls over the top for some snow.


Ensure that all the cocktail sticks are removed from the cake and cookies before eating and do not let them get into the hands of little people!

Recipe reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books.

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