If you're craving gingerbread, but you're in a hurry, this ontbeijtkoek is just what you're looking for. It's a Dutch spice cake that tastes similar to gingerbread, but even better! You might have a hard time eating only one piece.
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What is ontbijtkoek?
It's a moist Dutch bread (loaf cake) richly flavored with sweet spices, molasses, and honey. The key ingredient in this sweet treat is rye flour, which gives this dessert a darker brown hue, a unique texture, and beautiful flavor. Ontbijtkoek is used in a fun children's game called koekhappen, where the children try to eat a thick slice of cake hanging on a string without using their hands.
What spices are in it?
The traditional spices are cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Feel free to change this up by adding some ground nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, allspice, or star anise. Any warm, sweet spice will work in this recipe.
How do you pronounce ontbijtkoek?
This Dutch name is pronounced awnt-BEHT-kook.
Can I freeze ontbijtkoek?
Yes, this cake freezes exceptionally well. Just seal it inside of a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost slices in the toaster, microwave, or at room temperature.
It will keep at room temperature for up to 1 week as well, as long as it is well wrapped in plastic wrap. This also gives it a sticky exterior which is quite desirable in Dutch households.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients. You'll need rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, molasses, honey, and brown sugar. You'll also need several spices: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, coriander, and salt.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and spices.
Pour in the milk, honey, molasses, and brown sugar.
Whisk until combined.
Pour the mixture into a buttered 9x5-inch loaf pan.
Bake the ontbijtkoek at 300 F for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool for 1 hour.
Slice the loaf and serve with lots of butter and hot coffee.
There are lots of delicious variations of this Dutch cake. If you try one of these, please let me know in the comments!
- Peperkoek (Pepper Cake): Add ¼-1/2 teaspoon of white pepper to the batter.
- Oudewijvenkoek (Old Wives' Cake): Add 2 teaspoons of aniseed.
- Honingkoek (Honey Cake): Omit the molasses.
- Gemberkoek (Ginger Cake): Add ¼-1/2 cup of chopped candied ginger.
- Kandijkoek (Candy Cake): Top the baked loaf with candy pearls.
- Use a 9x5-inch loaf pan. If your pan is bigger, reduce the baking time; if it's smaller, increase it.
- Put the batter in the oven as soon as it is made to reduce the chances of sinking.
- Don't open the oven door while the ontbijtkoek is baking, or it may sink.
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Ontbijtkoek: Dutch Spice Cake
- Preheat the oven to 300 F and butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
- Whisk together the flours, baking powder, spices, and salt until combined.
- Add the sugar, molasses, honey, and milk and whisk the batter until it's well blended.
- Immediately pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 300 F for 55 minutes. The ontbijtkoek is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the edge and flip it onto a wire cooling rack. Turn the ontbijtkoek right side up and let it cool for another 50 minutes.
- Slice and serve with butter and a cup of hot coffee.