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Dutch Spice Cake

The Netherlands is a tiny country. To give you an idea, it’s just a 4 hour drive from the very north of the country to the most southern point. Getting from east to west is an even shorter journey! And yet, despite the small size, we still manage to have regional differences.

Take this Dutch spice cake for example, which goes by many different names. Depending on your geographical location it can be known as:

  • Spice cake
  • Pepper cake (even though there’s no pepper in there)
  • Honey cake
  • Breakfast cake (yes, it’s nice for breakfast, but any other time of day too)

It took me a while before I found out it’s all exactly the same cake…

A few years ago this cake got even more popular because it was promoted as a healthy (!!) snack by a best selling Dutch diet book. I still wonder why, because when you look at the ingredients there’s no way anyone with any common sense would promote this as the healthiest snack.

Is it delicious? It certainly is! But like all cakes, just not something to eat as a daily habit, but as a treat in the weekend for example. It does explain the popularity of that particular diet though!

I like to make it for the weekend and yes, I even eat it for breakfast (with a thick layer of butter…)
This recipe is adapted from the Dutch version of the magazine Delicious (December 2011). I’ve replaced the oats the recipe originally calls for by buckwheat flour, because I didn’t like the ‘chunky’ oats in this cake.
This cake is even better the next day, keep it well wrapped in foil to prevent it from drying.

Bon appétit!

Dutch Spice Cake recipe

Ingredients

  • 160 gr (1 + ½ cup) of all purpose flour
  • 90 gr (7/8 cup) of buckwheat flour *
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 315 gr (7/8 cup + 1 tbsp) of golden syrup
  • 125 gr (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) of unsalted butter
  • 160 gr (1/2 + ⅓ cup) of packed brown sugar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup + 1 tsp) of milk
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (356 F)
  2. Line the bottom of a cake tin with baking paper and grease the rest of the tin
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients
  4. Melt the butter, syrup and sugar together in a saucepan with a thick bottom over low heat
  5. Once melted, mix in with the dry ingredients until well mixed
  6. Mix in the egg and the milk
  7. Pour the mixture in the prepared cake tin
  8. Bake for 50 minutes, use a skewer to test, if it comes out dry, the cake is done.

Notes

(*) You can replace the buckwheat flour by all purpose flour

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Recipes

Frozen strawberry mousse

Strawberries are back again! To me, they are the heralds of summer, together with asparagus and rhubarb.

And this week, it sure looks like summer has started, with plenty of sun and high temperatures. It’s even 27 C (80 F) inside my apartment!

A bit much for May if you ask me, but I’m not complaining, I just try to enjoy every minute of sunshine that I can get. Meanwhile I hang around in shorts, wear my flip-flops and keep it cool by eating frozen strawberry mousse.

It’s really easy to prepare, the only things you need are a blender and a freezer. That, and patience.
It’s best to start 8 hours before serving, because the fruit needs some time to freeze. You could of course skip freezing fresh fruit and use already frozen fruit, in which case you’ll only have to wait for about 2 hours. But I was so happy to use the first fresh strawberries of the season, that it was worth the wait.

There’s no added sugar in this recipe, because I didn’t think it was necessary. However, if you like your dessert to be really sweet, add some sugar.

Hope you’re enjoying some sunshine too, and bon appétit!

Frozen strawberry mousse recipe

Serves: 3

Ingredients

  • 150 gr (3/4 cup) fresh strawberries, in halves (or frozen strawberries) + some extra for serving
  • 4 tbsp full fat greek yogurt
  • 200 ml (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Freeze the strawberries and the yogurt in two separate containers
  2. After 6 hours, take both containers out and let defrost a little (just enough so you can easily blend it, but if you have a heavy duty blender, you might be able to blend it straight from the freezer)
  3. Blend the strawberries and yogurt together
  4. Put the mixture in a container and freeze for another 2 hours
  5. Take out, let defrost a bit if necessary, and blend again
  6. Put back in the freezer while you whip the cream, until stiff peaks form
  7. Use a spatula to fold the whipped cream in with the icy mix of strawberries and yogurt
  8. Serve immediately, with fresh strawberries
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Recipes

Marzipan almond butter

In November, all Dutch kids start feeling anxious. It’s almost time for Sinterklaas, who will bring them presents on December the 5th. That is, if you’ve been good!

Sinterklaas resembles the story of Santa Claus, they both come once a year to bring all the children presents. There are a few differences, Sinterklaas is celebrated on 5 December (his birthday) and instead of riding a sleigh, he rides his horse (on rooftops!). Dutch kids leave Sinterklaas a carrot, for his horse, but I guess he’d prefer the cookies Santa Claus gets. And he too brings you presents through the chimney but instead of putting them in your socks, he likes to stuff your shoes. (Any place foot-related seems to be fit for presents according to these bearded generous old men.)

Like the kids, I too love this period, and not in the least because of all the special candy and sweet treats that go with this tradition. Last year, I gave you the recipe for Kruidnoten or speculaas cookies. If I have any of those at home, I really have to restrain myself, because you can be sure they will all be eaten that very same day.

Another classic to eat around Sinterklaas, is marzipan in all shapes and sizes. Especially popular is marzipan shaped and coloured like little potatoes, mandarins, carrots, sausages and pigs… (what can I say? I didn’t invent it, it’s a strange, yet delicious tradition). Dutch kids also love to eat golden or silver coins (chocolate shaped like euro’s) and chocolate cigarettes.

Yep, you’ve read that right, cigarettes. Though to be fair, they’re not called cigarettes since longtime, nor do they resemble cigarettes, but when I was a kid (more than a quarter of a century ago) it was absolutely normal to find a package of fake Camels in your shoe! Me and my friends would pretend to be smoking, thinking we were so cool. Luckily, in my case that never led to any real smoking. Now, it’s hard to imagine these fake cigarettes were just as normal as a Twix bar (or should I say Raider?), but I guess there were more things that were strange in the eighties.

To me, eating marzipan shouldn’t be confined to the few weeks around Sinterklaas. I love it all year round. This marzipan almond butter is a good way of making sure I get my fix once in a while. It’s easy to make, you just need a good food processor or blender and some patience, as it can take a while before you almonds turn into a smooth butter. But the result is worth it! You can keep it for several weeks in an airtight container in your fridge.

I eat it right from the spoon, in my yogurt, on my bread and I use it in cakes and pies.

Bon appétit!

Marsipan almond butter recipe

Ingredients

  • Almonds, raw, unpeeled 250 gr (1 + ¾ cup)
  • Maple syrup, 2 tbsp
  • Peanut oil**, 4 tbsp
  • Salt, 1 tsp

Instructions

  1. Blend the almonds in a heavy duty food processor
  2. Stop the machine every minute to scrape down the sides
  3. The almonds will start to get thicker and ‘wetter’ (the oil comes free)**
  4. Add the maple syrup, oil and salt
  5. Keep on processing, it will turn into marzipan and later butter
  6. Store in an airtight container

Notes

* Or almond oil
** This make a while, about 30 minutes in my case!

Categories
Recipes

Boterkoek – Dutch Buttercake

Yes, you’ve read that right. Buttercake. Cause this cake is all about butter. (Of which I’m a big fan, I can eat a good salted butter just like that.)

Now, I do realise many of you might think that buttercake sounds way too fat to be nice. Maybe I can reassure you by saying that Dutch buttercake reportedly is pretty similar to the French Gâteau Breton, which probably sounds more appealing. Well, what can I say? We Dutch just have a thing for nasty names for food.

Now we don’t call it buttercake for no reason, it does contain a big amount of butter. So you’ll find it is pretty heavy and that just a small piece will do. And because the butter is the key ingredient, it’s very important to use the best quality of (unsalted) butter you can find. It can literally make (or break…) the cake.

It is pretty simple to make and you can use a fork or knife to get the distinctive grid on top. Famous Dutch bakery Holtkamp (I’ve used the recipe from their fantastic book De Banketbakker) advises to egg wash the cake twice before baking, so it gets that nice golden colour. The grid is actually a trick to make sure the egg wash ‘sticks’ to the top of the cake.

Recipe taken from the book De Banketbakker by Cees Holtkamp.

Bon appétit!

Boterkoek Recipe

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 300 gr (1 + 1/3 cup) of good quality unsalted butter
  • 200 gr (7/8 cup) of castor sugar*
  • pinch of salt
  • 300 gr (3 cups) of all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

Preparations

  1. Mix the butter with the sugar and the salt
  2. Mix in the flour until you have a cohesive dough
  3. Wrap in cling film and let rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour
  4. Press the dough in your butter cake mould** after the hour rest,
  5. Brush with egg and leave to rest for half an hour
  6. Preheat the oven to 200 C (390 F)
  7. Brush with egg for a second time and use a fork or the blunt side of a knife to make a grid
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden
  9. Let cool down before taking it out of the mould

Notes

  • If you can find it (might be hard outside of the Netherlands) you can use 100 gr of ‘witte basterdsuiker’ and 100 gr of castor sugar

** In the Netherlands they sell special moulds for butter cake, but any small (about 24 cm) round form will do.

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Recipes

Easy Homemade Spelt Bread

The smell of fresh bread is one of my favourite things in the world. And clearly, I’m not the only one who feels this way. The scent of fresh bread, fake or real, is one of the tricks supermarkets use to entice us into buying more. I always shop with a grocery list, which helps me to resist the temptation of buying more than I need. But that bread scent does make me leave the supermarket incredibly hungry!

Fresh crusty bread is the main reason I’ll never even try going Paleo or low carb. Imagine never sinking your teeth in a crunchy bread, straight from the oven and still warm. Missing out on that sounds like complete horror to me.

That’s why I’m giving you the recipe for this super easy, no knead bread. It’s not my own and I know it’s been shared by many people before, but since I’m still handing it out to friends who’ve never heard of this fantastic recipe, I think it deserves to be mentioned yet another time!

The great thing is that you don’t need any kneading. Though a bit of aggressive kneading is sometimes just what you need to unwind, if that’s the case, make pizza dough. It’s literally just 5 minutes of work, and after that the dough does all the work for you. The only thing you’ll need to remember, is to invest those 5 minutes about a day in advance. The dough takes at least 12 hours (but even better is 16-24 hours) to rise.

Besides 5 minutes of work you’ll also need a cast iron pot (Dutch oven) with a lid, one that you use in the oven at very high temperatures. As you can see on the pictures I have a cute blue one. When my grandmother passed away, my grandfather felt like he didn’t need a lot of kitchen tools anymore. So he gave away a lot of her pans, and I was the lucky one to receive this fantastic blue one. Imagine all the dishes this pan made throughout the years, first by my grandmother and now by me. I really like that idea.

Bon appétit!

PS Need a Dutch oven? Find my preferred one on Amazon!

My Dutch Oven Easy Homemade Bread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 400 gr (2 + ⅔ cups) of spelt flour*
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • ¼ tsp of dried instant yeast
  • 300 ml (1 + ½ cup + 3 tbsp) of lukewarm water

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, the salt and the yeast together in a big bowl
  2. Add the water and stir briefly, just until it has mixed
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic foil and leave it to rise slowly over 12-14 hours (I usually do this overnight)
  4. After the dough has risen dramatically, and is all bubbly and sticky, flour your work surface
  5. Pour/scrape it out of the bowl and with well flowered hands you shape the dough into a ball
  6. Place this in a bowl and leave to rise for about an hour
  7. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 250C/480F WITH the cast iron pot, including the lid, inside.
  8. The pot needs to get just as hot as the oven before you put in the dough
  9. After the hour of extra rise, place the dough inside the hot pot and cover it with the lid
  10. Bake for 30 minutes at 250C/480F with the lid on
  11. After 30 minutes, take the lid off and bake for another 15 minutes
  12. Take the bread out of the oven en let it cool a bit
  13. You can test if the bread is well baked by tapping on the bottom of the bread, if it sounds hollow, than it’s done.

Notes* Spelt flour can be substituted for normal white flour or any other kind of flour