Dutch sweet bread “Peperkoek”

Dutch sweet bread

I love recipes that feature a blend of spices. There is something about the smell and the combination of flavors that I simply can’t resist.

For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread. I chose to make the lightest: peperkoek.

Dutche peperkoek

Peperkoek or Kruidkoek is a Dutch sweet quick bread made with a wonderful blend of warming spices like cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Many recipes also feature succade (candied citrus peel) . Peperkoek is traditionally served at breakfast in Holland with a thick layer of butter on top, as a replacement for regular bread. However due to its sweet taste it is also served as a snack or packed in the kids’ lunch boxes

Dutch sweet bread

When this challenge was announced, I was really excited. The last time we had a Dutch recipe it was gevulde speculaas and it was a huge hit with the family. I even made some for a dear Dutch friend and she loved it. The peperkoek featured the same signature blend of spices only this time in cake/quick bread form. Added to that the peperkoek was made entirely out of whole wheat flour with no oil or fat. A healthy recipe that is full of spices! I couldn’t wait to give it a go.

Gladly, the peperkoek did not disappoint. Despite the lack of fat it was not dry at all. The earthy notes of the whole wheat flour, made the perfect canvas for the spices to shine. The bread was light and full of flavor. I personally loved it sliced and toasted, it reminded me of ginger bread biscotti. The kids on the other hand loved it as is with some butter and jam.

Either way, peperkoek makes a wonderful breakfast or afternoon snack with a cup of tea. If you love spices,do give it a try.

Dutch breakfast bread

Peperkoek cake

Original recipe in metric. Servings: 12 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cane sugar syrup or honey
  • 1 cup less 2 tablespoons (220 ml) lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz) (15 gm) ground gingerbread spices (recipe below)
  • 1¼ cup (300 ml) (8¾ oz) (250 gm) brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 cups (480 ml) (8¾ oz) (250 gm) whole-wheat flour
  • 1¾ teaspoons (8 gm) baking powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 and line a 30cmx12 cm (12“x5“)  baking tin with parchment paper.

Measure all the ingredients.

Put the egg, syrup, water, spices and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk until everything is dissolved.

Add the whole-wheat flour and the baking powder into the bowl and mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the flour is wet. It doesn’t matter if there are some lumps left.

Pour into the baking tin and bake in a preheated moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 oven for 70 minutes.

To check if the sweet bread is done, stick a wooden skewer or toothpick into the middle. If it comes out clean the sweet bread is ready.

Take the cake out of the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes

After the 5 minutes take the cake out of the pan and let the cake cool down to room temperature before serving.

Dutch breakfast bread

Recipe: Gingerbread Spice Blend

  • 6 tablespoons (40 gm) cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (10 gm) nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 gm) cloves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 gm) cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground anise
  • 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground mace

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:

Storage: About 4 days at room temperature (wrapped in foil)

You can store it (well-covered) in the freezer up to one month

Notes:

The recipes in our challenge use whole-wheat flour or all-purpose (plain) flour since it is much easier to find than the traditional rye flour. (However you can replace 1 cup of whole-wheat or all-purpose (plain) flour with rye flour  for a more traditional taste if you wish).