When Andele Hellema started to bake in his first oven in the village of Hallum in 1861, he could not imagine that in the year 2016 the Hellema products would have found their place on the world-market.
One of the first products Andele Hellema started with was Speculaas (a Spiced Cookie).
About the origin of the word Speculaas there are various "speculations". Some of them are more true than others. At any rate it is for sure that in former centuries Speculaas was called Speculatie Gebak (Speculation Pastry). The story goes that in the 16th century a clever baker started to bake with a strongly spiced dough of which he did not know whether his customers would like it. So he speculated on the success of the product he baked ! Hence, the name Speculation Pastry.
Others insist that the figures on the Speculaas (mills, dolls, etc.) were considered as reflections of reality. The name Speculaas would have been derived from the latin word for mirror (reflector): 'Speculum'.
Most probably, some people say "it is very unlikely", others say that the word Speculaas is related to the word (in church-latin): Speculator or Speculatius, the old title for a bishop. True or not, Santa Claus, the bishop of Myra, has always been strongly related to Speculaas. There are even regions in Holland where Speculaas is called "Bishop's cake".
Originally the consumption of Speculaas was concentrated on the Dutch Santa Claus (the birthday of the bishop of Myra on December 5th). However, during the last thirty, forty years the consumption-period has constantly been extended and nowadays Speculaas is consumed all over the year. Apart from Holland, Speculaas (Spiced Cookies) meets a very good demand in the so-called "immigrant-countries" like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and America.
Hellema is now one of the oldest and also one of the biggest Speculaas producers. The company sticks to the use of real natural spices. The recipe is still close to the one which was used in 1861. The spices-recipe is a Hellema recipe with original "padang cinnamon" from Indonesia. This padang cinnamon is still irreplaceable for producing a real good Speculaas. It will not be surprising that the remaining ingredients are kept a secret.