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 different types of Dutch sweet bread. Ontbijtkoek (literally translated breakfast cake) is an integral part of the breakfast table in Holland. Rye is (usually) its most important ingredient and gives the cake a light brown coloring. It is often spiced with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, succade (candied citrus peel) and nutmeg.

Several parts of the Netherlands have their own local recipe, of which the most famous is “Oudewijvenkoek” (old wives’ cake) which is mostly eaten in the northern regions, and is flavored with aniseed. Ontbijtkoek is traditionally served with a thick layer of butter on top, as a replacement for bread. Since I was short of time during this festive season, I had time to bake only one of the sweet Dutch breads which, I think, must be one of the most fragrant breads my kitchen has seen or rather, smelled of, till present.



1 large egg, room temperature

1 tablespoon (15 ml) cane sugar syrup

1 cup less 2 tablespoons (220 ml) lukewarm water

1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz) (15 gm) ground gingerbread spices

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


  • Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Line a 30cm x 12cm baking tin with parchment paper.

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

  • Add whole-wheat flour and the baking powder into the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until the flour is wet.

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

  • Take the cake out of the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes take cake out of the pan.

  • Let the sweet bread cool down to room temperature before slicing and serving. Makes 12 generous servings.

Merry Christmas Daring Bakers!