Originally a Frisian wedding delicacy, this treat studded with candied orange peel and spices is a delight to the tastebuds. Nobody quite knows where and how it originated, and why it's called Oranjekoek if the frosting is pink, but who knows.. (oranje means "orange" as in the color, not the fruit.)
The House of Orange-Nassau, the aristocratic dynasty from which our royal family stems, lent the colorful addition to our country's current three colored flag: red, white and blue, with a separate vane in bright orange to show loyalty to the royal family. During international sporting events, you can recognize the Dutch supporters by their orange outfits, wigs and other sports-related items.
But back to the Oranjekoek. The original version is a single layer cookie/cake, frosted with a pink glaze. The dough contains crushed aniseed (gestampte muisjes) and nutmeg and is, combined with the sweetness of the glaze, a great addition to your morning coffee or afternoon tea. More recent versions of the cake contain two layers, separated by a filling of almond paste and a swirl of whipped cream on top. I've chosen to bake the single layer cake, but did add a bit of whipped cream and some finely chopped candied orange peel, for looks. The koek is originally served in squares and because of its cookie texture is easily picked up by hand and eaten as a cookie, rather than a cake. It will keep great in lunch boxes or cookie jars. Because of its slightly dry nature, it goes well with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee or tea.
1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter, cold and cubed
Pinch of salt
1 medium egg
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground aniseed or 1/4 tsp anise extract
zest from one medium orange
cup ground aniseed or anise extract
1/4 cup of candied orange peel
Ice cold water
For the glaze:
Mix the flour, sugar and salt together, then add the butter in small chunks. Keep mixing while you add the egg, nutmeg, aniseed and zest. Add a tablespoon at a time of ice cold water to knead into a stiff dough. Fold in the orange peel. Heat the oven to 375F. Grease a baking pan or baking sheet, shape the dough into a rectangle, square or pat it into the baking pan (allow for about an inch height). Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake is done. Let it rest in the pan for about five minutes, then cool on a rack.
When the cake is completely cooled, turn it over and glaze the flat side with a glaze made of powdered sugar and blueberry juice. You can also use red coloring. Let the glaze dry for at least an hour. Cut into squares, pipe some whipped cream on top and decorate with candied orange peel, or serve just as is. You can wear an orange hat if you want to :-)