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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ontbijtkoek (Dutch spice bread)

It's actually called "breakfast cake", this ontbijtkoek, but Dutch spice bread seems a more appropriate term in English. Favored by young and old, ontbijtkoek is an integral part of the breakfast table in Holland, shows up as a quick pick-me-up around four o'clock with a cup of tea and performs as the key ingredient for a children's birthday game called "koekhappen", i.e. cake nipping. This is where slices of ontbijtkoek are strung on a piece of wire or string and held above the heads of blindfolded children. Like birds in a nest, they strain their little necks up, mouths open wide, in hope of catching a crumb. The joke for the grownups is ofcourse to lower the cake within reach and then yank it up, so that the kids bite into air instead of a sweet treat. One of the commercials that still has me laughing out loud is this one for a famous ontbijtkoek brand.

Ontbijtkoek is not traditionally baked at home but is produced commercially. It's fair to say that, by baking ontbijtkoek at home, I'm trying to find a recipe close enough to the commercial product that I grew up with. How sad that my benchmark is a product that has been produced en masse and in ways that I could never reproduce at home. Kinda makes the whole baking a futile experience, but yet I try! I guess baking something that is close enough to satisfy my tastebuds memory is better than nothing!

I googled ontbijtkoek and ended up on a Dutch blog by Cisca. For those that read Dutch, check it out, she has a great sense of humor and has her own version of the spice bread.

1 cup of rye flour
1 cup of all purpose flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, ginger, coriander and ground cloves each
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup of honey
1 cup of milk
pinch of salt

Mix everything together into a smooth batter. Heat the oven to 300F, grease a cake pan and pour the batter in. Bake for 80 minutes or until the cake is done.

Cool on a rack, then wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap for that extra sticky outside crust. Eat sliced with a lick of good butter.

Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm.........the house smells wonderful and ofcourse I couldn't wait until the bread was totally cooled off before I sliced into it. Ah...bad girl. Nevertheless, it was worth the damage: it has that typical je-ne-sais-quoi that ontbijtkoek has: chewy, sweet, spicy....... The picture made the loaf darker than it is, it has that pretty toasty brown that the slices have.


  1. This is exciting! Do you really use coriander in the recipe? And no nutmeg?
    I am looking forward to seeing how it turned out.

  2. Hi Cisca,
    Yep, coriander works like a charm. I tend to forget about nutmeg because I don't care for the flavor but in mixed spices such as these, I'm sure it would be great!
    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I lived in the Netherlands for a short time & loved this cake..I like that your recipe includes rye flour, many recipes omit this but I love the tangy taste of rye. I shall be baking this soon, cheers!

  4. Hi Phil,
    I'm glad you like the rye too, it just adds that little "something" that makes it so flavorful, doesn't it? Let me know how it turned out!

  5. Hi Nicole,

    I followed your recipe (almost) exactly...not sure which type of rye flour you originally used, but I used a wholemeal stoneground and the cake turned out marvellous!

    I baked another rye cake at the same time which was equally delish, Dan Lepard's rye apple cake, do try it yourself!


  6. Phil, I'm glad you liked the spice bread! I used a standard bulk rye flour from the store, I am sure that with wholemeal stoneground it must have been amazing! Thank you for the link to the rye apple cake, I've bookmarked it and will try it soon, the rye/apple combi sounds fantastic. I love trying new things!!

  7. I just made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! I used all rye flour, replaced the sugar with honey and cut back the milk by 3/4 cup. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I dreamt of this 'bread' for about 12 years... I used to ate it while I was a kid... I still remember the taste, so clear in my mind. I'll try this recipe as soon as I can... Thank you for sharing!

  9. I invited myself over so I got mine at the source.. and it was so good. Tonight I had it with cream cheese. It reminded me of going shopping with my mom in the days of the downtown department store. some times we would go to the tearoom in Stewart's. My mom would have a brown bread with cream cheese. Elegant slices laid out so nicely on a plate.


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