Dutch spiced breakfast cake recipe (ontbijtkoek)

Posted: January 22, 2024 Last modified: January 23, 2024
Dutch spiced breakfast cake recipe (ontbijtkoek)

If you are familiar with the Dutch ontbijtkoek, you know it’s good! It translates to breakfast cake and is often eaten for breakfast or as a nice snack. The most traditional way to serve ontbijtkoek is to take a slice of the spiced breakfast cake and spread it with a thick layer of butter. I’ll share my recipe for authentic ontbijtkoek with you!

What is Dutch breakfast cake?

The literal translation of ‘ontbijtkoek’ is breakfast cookie. But in English, that seems a bit weird and is not fitting. Breakfast cake or breakfast bread suits this recipe better. I prefer spiced breakfast cake due to the structure of the cake.

Ontbijtkoek is a very quick bread you make in a loaf pan. You can even make them smaller in mini loaves or even cupcake cases. This sweet bread has a wonderful moist, but dense texture. Especially homemade dutch spice cake! The flavors are amazing due to all the added spices and appelstroop. If you don’t have access to this Dutch product, you could also use molasses.

The breakfast cakes you can buy in a grocery store are usually a bit drier. Although they often have a sticky crust, just like a homemade loaf. If you are in The Netherlands and want tot buy one to take home: you’ll find it in the breakfast section. Usually next to crackers and ‘beschuit’ (another Dutch breakfast product).

Dutch spiced breakfast bread 1a

How to serve Dutch breakfast cake?

A slice of this breakfast cake is the perfect sweet treat for me. I think my recipe is so good that it doesn’t need anything to go with it. But it is certainly possible if you want to. I will share my tips on how I serve my slice of store-bought breakfast cake (I admit, I still buy one from time to time).

Most Dutch people just take a slice and spread it with butter. It’s the most traditional way to eat it. Although ‘koekhappen’ is possibly even more traditional, I’ll tell you all about it after my serving suggestions!

I like to spread a slice with peanutbutter and if I’m in the mood for a real treat: I add some chocolate sprinkles. It’s amazing and you should really try it sometime. Another option I hear often is a nice layer of chocolate spread.

The Dutch tradition of ‘koekhappen’

Time for some more Dutch traditions: koekhappen! It’s a popular thing to do on Kingsday, but you’ll see it at other festivities as wel. To explain what koekhappen is: you tighten a string from A to B just above your head and hang slices of spiced cake on it.

Participants must eat the ontbijtkoek with their hands behind their backs. It is a fun activity and usually not a competition. Although you could make it a competition to see who finishes their gingerbread first.

Dutch spiced breakfast bread 4a

The difference between honey cake and spiced breakfast cake

Ontbijtkoek is known by different names in The Netherlands, from honey cake to pepper cake (no, there’s no pepper in the recipe). The original name is ‘honingkoek’ which translates to honey cake. A long time ago, the recipe was made with honey. The honey was an expensive ingredient and was replaced with sugar. Which made it a spiced breakfast cake.

There are a lot of variations of breakfast cake. You could add nuts, ginger or a different spice mix. The recipe below is how I like my homemade breakfast cake best, for me it’s the real thing. But feel free to vary a bit.

Questions about Dutch breakfast cake

​Which flour should I use?

I use all purpose flour, but you could also use whole wheat flour. With this alternative you don’t have to adjust the recipe. There are more options (rye flour for exemple), but I haven’t tested this yet. If you want to use rye flour, the recipe should be adapted.

What is appelstroop?

Appelstroop is a key ingredient in ontbijtkoek. It is a (thick spreadable) dark syrup or jelly made from apples and sugar. It is most commonly used as a spread on bread, but can also be used as an ingredient in recipes for both hot and cold dishes.

If you are looking for a place to buy Dutch ingredients, I have a list of (web)shops that sell Dutch ingredients.

I don’t have speculaas spice mix, what should I use?

You can make it yourself with my recipe for speculaas spice mix. But you could also use gingerbread spice mix. It’s fine to leave out the ginger powder or use less than stated in the recipe. Most important is to have a variety of spices in you breakfast cake for the best result.

Is this a healthy breakfast cake?

No, it isn’t. I love a slice of ontbijtkoek as a snack, but it’s definitely not a healthy snack.

Dutch spiced breakfast bread 2a

More authentic Dutch recipes

As a Dutchie myself, you won’t be surprised I have many more Dutch recipes on my blog. Here are a few of my (and your!) favorites:

If you are missing any Dutch recipes, please let me know! I have many more Dutch recipes on my Dutch blog to translate. Here you can find all of my Dutch baking recipes in English.

Dutch spiced breakfast cake

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Dutch breakfast cake recipe

Do you like Dutch ontbijtkoek? With this easy recipe you can make a homemade version of this Dutch spiced breakfast cake.
Servings: 12 servings
For a 25 cm or 10 inch loaf pan

Ingredients 

  • 250 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200 grams dark brown sugar
  • tsp speculaas spice mix
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 250 ml milk
  • 50 grams appelstroop or molasses
  • 60 grams pearl sugar optional

Equipment

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, speculaas spice mix and ginger.
  • Heat milk and apple syrup in a saucepan on low heat. Stir until the appelstroop (or molasses) is completely dissolved.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated and you have a smooth batter.
  • Pour the batter into a cake pan lined with parchment paper and spread evenly in the pan.
  • Sprinkle with pearl sugar on top. Bake at 160°C/320℉ (conventional oven) in the middle of the oven for about 60 minutes or until done (a cake tester should come out clean).
Tips

You can really vary with this base, for example I think some nuts through the batter is delicious.
How to store

Store in an airtight container or wrapped in aluminium foil at room temperature for 3-4 days.

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