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.