Ontbijtkoek: Dutch honey breakfast cake

Ontbijtkoek: Dutch honey breakfast cake

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

One of my favorite parts of traveling around Europe is breakfast. I get a kick out of comparing and contrasting how different countries and cultures handle the “most important meal of the day.” While eating my way through the city of Utrecht, I learned about this Dutch breakfast staple—spicy, fragrant, dense and slathered in butter—I knew this cake would put Dutch breakfasts on the top of my list.

Ontbijtkoek, also sometimes referred to as peperkoek (pepper cake), is most likely an ancestor of French gingerbread. First appearing in the Middle Ages as a way to use leftover crumbs and ingredients, the additional spices were added when Dutch traders entered the spice trade in the 17th century. While there are a few different variations depending on where you are in the Netherlands, this breakfast cake is all about the sweet and spicy. Unlike American-style quick breads, ontbijtkoek is thinly sliced and because there is no other source of fat in the recipe, creamy butter on top is a must.

Ontbijtkoek (Dutch honey breakfast cake)

Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves: 4 – 6

2 cups rye flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground anise

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

3/4 cup milk, plus more for brushing

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Grease a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan and then line with parchment paper.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Combine the honey, molasses and milk in a small saucepan and gently warm over medium heat, gently whisking and making sure it does not boil.

Gradually add the warmed wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, folding with a rubber spatula until a sticky batter forms.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top, then lightly brush the top with milk. Bake for 60 minutes, turning and halfway through. If top is getting too dark, cover with aluminum foil. Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan and then remove from pan, serving slightly warm or cold. Thinly slice for serving.

(This recipe was adapted from Savory Nothings.)

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