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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Saturday, July 16, 2005

SHF: Dutch Honeycake (Honigkoek)

Readers of this site will know that I'm on a search to find a good Dutch honigkoek recipe, following the dismal failure of the recipe I have (flat as a pancake!). As I wrote in that post: honigkoek is a traditional Germanic bread/cake that is usually sliced and spread with butter, or cheese and really comes into its own when toasted. It has a wonderful taste of honey and lots of spices to make it taste almost Christmassy - usually cinnamon, cardamom and ground cloves. It's not too sweet, but almost slightly bitter and caramelly.
Yes, it's easily available in loaves, but my domestic spirit has won out and I want to create my own. So, when Nic announced that this Sugar High Friday theme would be honey, I didn't even have to think about what I would make. It was honigkoek research time!
My research basically involved the internet. A. did suggest contacting his Opa's wife over in the Netherlands, but, you know, I baulked at the long distance phone call and the language barriers I'd face (despite Dutch sounding a bit to me like a country yokel farmer from far north England!). I narrowed my results down to two recipes; one actually in Dutch and one in English. As both didn't contain any butter or eggs, which is normal, I had enough ingredients to try both.
I ran the Dutch recipe through Babel Fish translater and burst out laughing. Luckily the recipe was simple enough for me to figure out what it meant, but try reading this without giggling:

-The cakevorm to grease with margarine and thinly with flower powers.
-The self-rising barge flour, it salt and the kruiden seven.
-Add brown sugar, honey and milk and this to a smooth seizure stirs.
-The seizure in the cakevorm create.
-A velletje vetvrij greases paper and on the seizure lay.
-The form at the bottom of a moderately warm furnace (160°C) slide and the wafer 1 à 1¼ hours bake.
-After ± ¾ hour the papiertje obtains eraf.
-To the wafer on a grating from to let fume and the wafer in aluminium foil to keep.

Giggling to myself about flower powers and seizures in my mixing bowl, I slapped together something that resembled a very dry cake batter. I needed to add 3 times the amount of milk specified to make something vaguely wet, and the finished product was still a little dry and crumbly, but the flavour and general texture was excellent. Yes, I know these are supposed to be baked in loaf pans, but the only one I have is far too wide. I need a European style thin, but tall pan.
The second recipe I tried was the one in the ring pan. It was written in English and had less honey, but some ginger added. It was definitely a more moist cake, but lacked the intensity of flavour and toothsome chewiness of the Dutch recipe.
What you see below is a platter I took to a committee meeting, of slices of the second cake. This type of cake really needs to be buttered, but if you stick to light butter/margarine you still have quite a healthy cake, as was appreciated by the women. For the boys I covered a few in my own plum and nectarine jam.

Yes, it worked well, but the real triumph was in the smaller Dutch recipe cake which I sent with A. to Adelaide for his family to try. It kept well, and despite the slight crumbliness which can be fixed with more milk, it was the definite winner of the two. Not really surprising, considering it comes from the geographic source.
So, I think I've finally found my honigkoek recipe. Thank you Nic and Sugar High Friday! :-)
PS - I also have a pretty excellent recipe for Honeyed Figs, about which I've posted. Dried figs plumped up with honey and oranges and spiced with cardamom and bay leaves....mmmmm!
Read on for the recipe:

Dutch Honeycake (Honigkoek)
aka: Breakfast cake
(translated by me!)

Cake tin 20X10 cm
Greaseproof paper

250g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
100g brown sugar
100g honey
150-200ml milk (until you reach a desirable consistency)

-Preheat your oven to 160 celsius.
-Grease your cake tin
-Combine the flour, salt and spices in a large bowl
-Add the brown sugar, honey and milk to create a smooth batter and spoon into the cake tin
-Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and place in the oven
-Bake for 1 - 1 1/4 hours. After 3/4 hour remove the sheet of paper from the surface.
-Let cool in the tin, and store wrapped in alumnium foil
-Best served with butter, preferably toasted.


  • Good things come to those who bake - especially those who bake when the weather is bad. Looks great, Niki. Thanks for participating in this month's SHF!

    By Blogger Nic, at 7/16/2005 12:08:00 pm  

  • Sweet success! Literally! =)

    So glad you finally found a winning recipe. I can just imagine how nice this would be with a generous splay of butter!

    By Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop), at 7/16/2005 01:53:00 pm  

  • What an interesting cake. Definitely worth a try. Loved the translation. Are they a riot?

    By Blogger Ana, at 7/16/2005 02:09:00 pm  

  • hi, that looks delicious beyond belief - can just imagine it with lots of drippy butter...mmm...cheers,j

    By Blogger J, at 7/16/2005 02:45:00 pm  

  • How in the WORLD could you make sense of that translation?!? (Maybe it's because I don't cook that I couldn't get the gist of it).
    Henceforth, I shall now forever call my oven a 'furnace.'

    Hayley :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/16/2005 02:54:00 pm  

  • Hi Niki - I love honeycake, but have never made one myself and have never had the Dutch variety. I may have to remedy that - yours sounds wonderful! I got a chuckle over your Babel "translation". I've run into similarly amusing translations from Google, but it does give you a place to start!

    By Blogger Cathy, at 7/16/2005 03:00:00 pm  

  • LOL! Funny! And the cake looks like one I wouldn't mind scoffing down either, mmm, slathered with salted butter...

    By Blogger Zarah Maria, at 7/16/2005 10:04:00 pm  

  • What on gods green earth is barge flour? That cracks me up. Kind of makes me wonder what the hell people think I'm cooking when they babelfish my recipes into another language. I hope it's nothing embarassing.

    By Blogger Lex Culinaria, at 7/18/2005 12:37:00 pm  

  • This looks and sounds delicious, Niki - sorry the weather down there is so terrible. But it looks as though this cake will warm your sprits and keep you going to get through the winter.

    Thanks so much for joining in on SHF!

    By Blogger Jennifer, at 7/19/2005 03:12:00 am  

  • Thanks for recipe; for comparison here is an old family favourite obtained 30+ yrs ago from a friend of my mother's: Mrs Van der Ven's Dutch Honey Cake: Ingredients: 1/2 lb flour, 1/4 lb caster sugar; 3 oz honey, 4 oz milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp bicarb soda, 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Method: Just mix (that's what it says!) & bake 30-40 mins in mod oven. Eat sliced with butter.

    By Anonymous Anna of Melbourne, at 11/07/2005 04:39:00 pm  

  • Hi there

    i'm from the netherlands and have a receipe for you....

    500 grams self raising flower, 150 grams brown sugar, 150 grams honey, 250 ml milk, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, salt
    -Preheat your oven to 175 celsius.
    -Grease your cake tin STIR EVERYTHING,put mixture in tin bake for an hour

    after baking right away out of tin and let cool

    By Blogger drakakoe, at 11/19/2005 01:29:00 am  

  • Thanks for the recipe--but can you tell us how much salt you recommend: it isn't in your list of ingredients but is mentioned in the "method" section, with the amount left unspecified. We decided it might be about 1/4th teaspoon and we'll know the rsult soon enough: it's in the oven now. We also substituted unbleached flour and 2 teapsoons of baaking powder for the self-rising flour. All best. L&M

    By Anonymous L&M, at 1/16/2006 09:40:00 am  

  • Drakakoe and Anna - thank you SO much for these! I love finding new, traditional recipes!

    l&m - Hmmmm, it was a while ago and I can't quite remember but I would say 1/4 or 1/2 a teaspoon would be about right. Just enough to do what it does that salt does in baking recipes!!

    By Blogger Niki, at 1/23/2006 10:23:00 pm  

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