Dutch Spice Bread

PinExt Dutch Spice Bread

DSC00709 300x225 Dutch Spice Bread
I love the way my kitchen smells right now. Warm, fragrant with spices, the rich scent of molasses, I sniff the air and know I’m onto something good. My mouth is watering and my husband can be found sidling into the kitchen looking far too innocent.

The origin of our delight lies in a humble foil-lined loaf pan. It’s a quick bread from the Netherlands, called ontbijtkoek in Dutch. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it? Although the literal translation is breakfast bread, I prefer to think of it as the ultimate gingerbread. It’s delicious, fat-free (although there’s enough sugar that I would hesitate to call it truly healthy) and simple to make. The slightly unusual ingredients give it a delightfully unexpected flavor while maintaining the integrity of what we consider to be gingerbread. Although there are many sweeteners in the recipe, the bread itself isn’t at all over sweet. A slice with breakfast is wonderful, as well as for a tasty afternoon snack with tea or coffee. My husband loves dunking it in his coffee.

American taste buds, accustomed as they are to super-sweet desserts, might not appreciate the ontbijtkoek’s subtleties if it’s labeled as such.


2 C flour- rye or AP or any combination of the two. I used 1 C of each.*
3 tsp baking POWDER
Spices: this is partly up to you and your tastes. I used:
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp finely ground black pepper
4 cloves, ground
1 tsp ginger, freshly grated (you could also use dry powdered ginger)
1 healthy pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Add all the above ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

*Rye flour has a wonderful earthy flavor that I think adds something special to the bread. If you use all rye it will bake up very dense; adding All-Purpose flour lightens the end result. If you do use rye flour, be careful of what you get. Some rye flours are not finely milled; others are ‘white’ or ‘light’ rye (the bran is removed and the flour is then bleached) which have very little rye flavor. I bought mine from a German bakery; I had to ask if they would sell me some. I don’t know the brand, but here’s what you’re looking for:
DSC00706 300x225 Dutch Spice Bread
The wet ingredients:
1 C milk
½ C brown sugar
¾ C honey, molasses, or any combination of the two. I used ½ C honey and ¼ C molasses.

Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients; stir well to incorporate thoroughly. If you use rye flour you don’t have to worry quite so much about over mixing, since rye has significantly less gluten (the structural protein that can make baked goods tough or chewy) than wheat flour. Don’t worry too much about a few lumps if the majority of the batter is smooth.
By now, you should have something that looks like this:
DSC00704 300x225 Dutch Spice Bread
Line a bread pan with foil. You’ll be covering the bread with foil when it comes out of the oven, so you may as well get a jump on that and save yourself from washing the pan at the same time. Make sure that there’s enough overhang on the foil to cover the bread when it’s done baking. Pour the batter in and bake for ~80 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
DSC007081 225x300 Dutch Spice Bread
Yes, it is hard to wait that long. Unfortunately, it’s about to get harder. The bread needs to be wrapped in foil as soon as it comes out of the oven to trap the moisture inside. As it cools, you can transfer it to a ziplock bag, only to continue waiting… You really have to let it sit for a day. Yes, a whole day. Trust me, it’s worth the wait. Something magical happens as time passes- the spices blend into an incredible melange and any harshness disappears.

Enjoy! You’ve waited long enough:)

10 thoughts on “Dutch Spice Bread

  1. It looks delicious Etta! I can’t wait to try it!

    Do you think the recipe will stand having nuts, walnuts or pecans, added to it?


  2. This recipe looks fantastic and I am eager to try it.

    Do you think it is possible to use maple syrup instead of honey?

    Also, if the bread is baked in a disposable aluminum loaf pan, could the bread be covered, after it is baked, while in the tin, or do you still recommend removing the bread and completely wrapping it in the foil?

    Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    • I think you certainly could use maple syrup (there’s no structural reason why not) but the delicate maple flavor might become lost amid the other strongly flavored ingredients.

    • I’m sure you could leave it in the loaf pan and wrap the foil around it, pan and all. The foil just exists to trap the steam inside, leading to a soft, moist, slightly sticky texture. I hope you enjoy it!

    • Rye flour, while having a lower gluten content than wheat, still isn’t gluten free. I think a stronger, earthier tasting flour adds to the overall impact of the recipe; I think buckwheat or brown rice flour would be the best substitution. The great thing about quick breads is that they aren’t dependent on gluten for their structure.

      • I have done quite a bit of gluten-free cooking in my life and yes, buckwheat and/or rice flours are fine choices. I do wish to qualify the idea of quick breads not being dependent on gluten. All sorts of breads, cakes, cookies and even crackers have some sort of leavening to make bubbles and therefore need some sort of stretchy protein membrane to hold the bubbles in and raise the dough. Any recipe that contains eggs has that and therefore does not need gluten and can be made out of gluten-free flours (a little less flour and a little more liquid to counteract dryness). A recipe such as this one that does not have any eggs needs something like gluten to keep the bubbles from escaping. Buckwheat flour is an excellent choice in that it has a similar compound that acts in much the same way as gluten (a stretchy, sticky protein) but is from a completely different plant family then the normal glutinous grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley, etc.). If you try to bake without any of those stretchy proteins at all the bubbles escape and you get hardtack with pin holes in the top of it. If you’ve ever done it, you won’t soon forget it!
        You don’t have to use all buckwheat, just some. All in all, you just have to have something to stick it together. Rice flour can make a nice substitute in recipes that have eggs, but by itself will not hold the bubbles. Rice and buckwheat combined might work nicely.

  3. I made the Dutch Spice Bread with a change. I didn’t have any rye flour on hand so I used buckwheat flour instead. It came out just fine and we ate it up. It is indeed spicy! It is well that you have people wait till the next day, as the spices are too sharp at first. They need to meld a bit. I made it late in the evening and then wrapped it up as directed. My dear husband suggested that we just hold out 20 some minutes till just after midnight and then have at it as it was the next day, but I said we’d have to wait anyway. Some guys just like to eat!

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