pass the butter

Still searching for ways to climb out of my recent breakfast rut, I’ve been on the lookout for ideas. I knew I was on to something when I stumbled across the exotic sounding ontbijtkoek – a Dutch spice bread. There are three things that immediately caught me attention. 1) Ontbijtkoek is traditionally made with rye flour. 2) It also involves honey. I love baking recipes that use honey – especially when it is combined with rye. You might as well just pass me the butter right now. 3) It literally translates to “breakfast cake.” Sign me up.

Other selling points include that it calls for a healthy dose of my favorite winter-warmers: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and clove. Plus there’s fact that it’s quick. And dish friendly. One mixing bowl, one spatula, one loaf pan. Of course I had to complicate things by baking mine in three little mini-loaf pans. They’re so cute, I couldn’t resist. I rationalized that it would be handy to stick a loaf or two into the freezer for future breakfast pick-me-ups.

I learned from Wikipedia that several parts of The Netherlands have their own local recipe, of which the most famous is “oudewijvenkoek,” a variety that is mostly eaten in the northern regions. Oudewijvenkoek translates to “old hag’s cake” – which I found amusing, but a little more research taught me that it is traditionally flavored with aniseed. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there for breakfast. Too licoricey.

I found a handful of recipes for ontbijtkoek and ended up taking the bits and pieces I liked best from each to make my own version. Apologies to the Dutch if I have gone and ruined their traditional breakfast cake in doing so. But this much I can tell you – it is perfect with a strong cup of coffee. It’s chewy and warm and toasty. But don’t limit it to breakfast. Try it for elevenses and afternoon tea too. It’s marvelous lightly toasted with a spread of cold butter. Or if you want to get especially European about it, try it topped with a mild chev. Now there’s a combination that will send the breakfast blues packin’.

Ontbijtkoek (Breakfast Cake)

1 1/2 cups light rye flour
1/2 cup flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup black strap molasses
3/4 cup milk
pinch of salt

Combine the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add in the liquid ingredients. Stir until just combined. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake in a 300ºF oven for 50 – 80 minutes, depending on the size of your pan(s). This is a moist bread, so you really want to be sure it is completely cooked through. Serve warm or lightly toasted with butter or chev. Makes one loaf, or 2 -3 mini lovaes.

5 Responses to “pass the butter”


  1. 1 Pat Juett March 4, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    OOOOH! This reminds me that I have been wanting to make brown bread, the one steamed in cans in the oven. Calls for molasses and heavy flours and raisins. Also yummy with the butter and honey.

  2. 2 GarlicPig March 4, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Nice call Pat! Another great breakfast treat. I learned how to make steamed brown bread on the organic potato farm in northern Maine I apprenticed on after college. I haven’t made it in years, but this is the only brown bread I’ve made (I’m sort of a corn flour freak):

    1 1/2 cups cornmeal
    1 1/2 cups flour
    2 tsp soda
    1 tsp salt
    2 cups buttermilk
    3/4 molasses
    handful of raisins

    Slow steam for 3 hours.

    • 3 Pat Juett March 5, 2012 at 5:42 am

      Any idea what to use instead of the cans, as I think most have some sort of “bad” lining. Could one use wide mouth pint jars so they would still be round?

      • 4 GarlicPig March 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm

        Hmm, interesting question. I’d be worried that it might stick in a jar that doesn’t have any give. One of the recent Saveur’s had a Brown Bread story, and they don’t mention anything about the can linings. I think you’re right though. Maybe trying to search out an old, pure metal can is worth the effort?

  3. 5 Ella Thayer March 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    My latest enjoyment to break the breakfast rut is a waffle smothered with almond butter and topped with blueberries and banana slices. Unfortunately, or maybe not, I have discovered frozen waffles at Mississippi Coop which makes this treat delightfully easy. It always puts a smile on my face followed by some kind of humming or happy singing sound.

    I remember brown bread; I loved it. Wonder what happened to it. Oh yeah, the food industry took it off the shelf.


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