The Speculaas Spice Company

Tastes of Christmas Past: Keeping family memories alive with recreations of grandmas’ recipes by Gillian Harvey.


Woman’s Weekly - Christmas edition 2016


Scintillating Spices


As I bite into the small biscuit the zest of spices sparks my

senses and something deep within me stirs: the ghost of

a memory, the taste of something just out of reach, and a

feeling of warmth and love. “Thank you, Grandma”

I whisper softly.


Many families have precious recipes handed down through

generations, but the spice mix I infuse these tasty biscuits

with has a little more of a story – it was unearthed in some

old papers by my father two years ago, and comes from

a grandmother I never met.


My father often talks of my Dutch grandmother - Esther -

painting a vivid picture of a loving woman, whose baking

and cooking skills enabled her to satisfy a family of 10, even

during The Great Depression in the early 1930’s.


Despite never having had the privilege of meeting this remarkable woman, a casualty of the Nazis in 1942, I've always felt a special closeness to her memory, and I know her face from the one remaining treasured photo that survived the Second World War.


In spite of this I never expected to connect with my

grandmother 72 years after her untimely death. But when

my father told me he had discovered a piece of paper with

her secret spice recipe at his home in Amsterdam, I felt

something stir deep within me - intrigue and a sense of



After 25 years working in international finance, and having

lived in the UK since 1989, I was the last person anyone

would have expected to be drawn into the world of

culinary flavours from my European roots. But having

recreated the blend of nine spices in my speculaas spice

mix, using organic, high-quality spices, I was struck with

an unexpected aspiration. And, in 2014, I decided to change

track and share my grandmother's recipe with the world.


As a child, I loved to bake. My mother - who sadly died last summer - believed children should be fully independent, and by five years old I was a dab hand at her delicious butter cake. I still use her recipes and have shared them online. Although, presently the memories their flavours evoke in me are a little raw, I love the fact that I am also keeping my mother's memory alive.


Starting my spice enterprise has certainly been an

experience - I have relied on word-of-mouth for the

most part, and I have been thrilled when bloggers and

food writers have used my spices and written about

them positively.


One of the endorsements I am most proud of is from

Brendan Lynch, a finalist from The Great British Bake-

Off 2012.


It's early days as far as the business is concerned, but

it's been wonderful rediscovering my roots. And

although I never knew my grandmother, I like to

imagine she'd be proud of me.



Oma Dotsch jar in postal box Steven with jar and pack hr