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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Honigkoek / Ontbijtkoek



UPDATE - A good recipe found in this later post!

That's Dutch for honey cake or breakfast cake, respectively. It's a traditional Germanic bread/cake that is usually sliced and spread with butter, or cheese. I like it toasted. It has a wonderful taste of honey and lots of spices to make it taste almost Christmassy - usually cinnamon, cardamom and ground cloves (I've decided it's ground cloves which makes anything taste like Christmas). Not too sweet, but almost slightly bitter and caramelly.
Usually we buy loaves of this, and it's tall and very soft; perfect in the toaster and a really tasty breakfast or quick dessert.

I've tried making it a few times from a recipe in our 1963 "Encyclopaedia of European Cooking", which is a masterpiece of dubious research. It's a recipe that doesn't include any eggs, and very little butter, and quite a lot of milk. But, it just doesn't work. The flavour is fine - spicier and stronger than the store-bought ones, but the texture is just like a brick. It simply doesn't rise and sits like lead in your stomach, despite the fairly large amount of baking powder called for.
I tried grilling slices of this to see if that lightened the texture a little (works with bread), but the stuff didn't even grill. It just sat there under the heat and sulked! In the end I threw it in the bin. Very disappointed.
I don't know if this is a case like my hot cross buns; when something is cheap and good quality to buy, perhaps you shouldn't bother trying to make your own? But I'd like to give this one more try. The store-bought ones often list rye flour in their ingredients. Is that something I should use? Would that make it soft and light?
So, does anyone have a good recipe to make this Dutch/German/Flemish breakfast cake? Something from their family archives, or something they know to work. Anything would be better than that recipe I have!

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