For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread.
I couldn’t wait to make Ontbijtkoek. Growing up within a Dutch family, this spiced bread was something we were pretty familiar with. For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, it’s akin to a ginger loaf but with additional spices. It’s an unusual blend of flavours and textures – soft, yet a little chewy; dry, yet moist and sticky on the outside; sweet, yet spicy and slightly bitter with a hint of caramel. And, it goes oh so well with a generous swipe of fresh butter – in fact it’s compulsory. As is a cup of hot tea alongside.
The Daring Kitchen provided us with a few variations of Dutch spiced bread to choose from, including this one from Nicole at ‘The Dutch Table’. I loved its use of rye flour – long a traditional ingredient of Ontbijtkoek, but used less and less. And, while we’re talking about authentic Dutch recipes, you simply must check out Nicole’s blog – what she doesn’t know about Dutch cookery isn’t worth knowing.
This recipe was simplification personified – throw all the ingredients together, pour it in the tin, and bake. How simple is that?! And the result? Well, it was agreed all round that you just couldn’t get better.
Ontbijtkoek (Dutch Spice Bread)
Makes 1 loaf
- 1 cup rye flour (if you don’t have rye, just use 2 cups of all-purpose flour instead)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp each of cardamom, ginger, coriander and ground cloves
- ½ cup of dark brown sugar (I used dark muscovado)
- ¼ cup dark molasses
- ½ cup of honey
- 1 cup of milk
- Pinch of salt
- Heat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Grease a loaf pan (mine measured 8.5 x 4.5 inches) and line the base with baking paper.
- Mix all the ingredients together into a smooth batter and pour into the loaf pan.
- Bake for about 70-80 minutes or until the cake is done (a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean and the surface should be firm and spring back when touched).
- Transfer to a cake rack and cool. Once cool, take out of pan and wrap in foil or plastic wrap to keep it from drying out, and also so that the outside surface can develop its usual sticky crust. It’s common practice to leave the loaf for a day before eating it for the flavours to enhance (but you can absolutely eat it the day you make it).
- Serve with butter and a nice cup of tea.
Note: Ontbijtkoek keeps well for several days (some say up to 2 weeks) and, in fact, enhances in flavour over that time. Store, wrapped in plastic wrap or foil, in a bread bin.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting