Friday, December 7, 2012

Dutch Spice Bread

Last weekend my husband's family celebrated Christmas early, as is the tradition in Holland. As Mr S is Dutch they actually celebrate Sinterklaas, or as we would call it, Saint Nicolas. There are lots of traditions (like one which involves a black slave child who throws mini Dutch cookies at you) but the one tradition we do each year is definitely Dutch food! There is always plenty of Dutch baking to go around and you can bet that they are all full of delicious spices.

Dutch Spice Bread
Dutch Baking!

The other tradition which we've taken part in recently is that we each give one present to every person in the family, the gift can either be recycled, crafted or if you have to spend money then no more than $5 per person is to be spent. Last year I struggled a bit, I had plans to make lots of things but in the end buying presents was cheaper! This year I got smart and starting planning for recycled gifts (gifts you've been given but don't want) throughout the year. I also made a couple of gifts which was fun, I will have to share that with you later!

"Welcome Saint Nicolas"

My contribution to the Sinerklaas feast was my favourite Dutch bread called Ontbijtkoek (I pronounce it ON BAKE COOK -though that's not technically right) When we were in Holland last year we would buy this cheap as chips (actually cheaper) breakfast bread and have it for morning teas. We sometimes packaged them up, sliced and buttered, then took it with us when we went out to do some site seeing. It was definitely my favourite Dutch baking, I couldn't get enough of it! It seems like a cross between a cake and a bread and tastes very similar to gingerbread, only with more spices and is a bit more soft and chewy. Imagine my surprise when I found out there was a whole game dedicated to eating the stuff while blind folded! So when Mr S's family asked each of us to bake something for Sinterklaas I knew that was what I wanted to make.

This is the grass and carrots they leave out for Saint Nicolas' horses

This was my first time baking Dutch food and for the second time in two weeks (like the Pumpkin Pie) I didn't completely read the recipe before making it. It turns out you are supposed to bake it then leave it for at least 24 hours. After talking to the Dutch family turns out most Dutch baking is like that and the longer you leave it the more tasty it becomes! So I tried the bread on the second day and then on the third and I can safely tell you that third-day-old Dutch spice bread tastes better than fresh!

Me with Sinterklaas wig on
Me in a Zwarte Piet (the black slave boy) wig

You can use Molasses if you like, I didn't use it because the last time I tried using it I hated the smell and taste, something about it just makes me feel ill so I went with treacle instead which I found out is pretty much just a darker version of Golden Syrup (mmmm Golden Syrup!) You can also use fresh grated nutmeg but for the sake of keeping things simple (and I didn't want to buy nutmeg) I just used the dry stuff!

Dutch Spice Bread
Consistency and colour of the batter

Dutch Spice Bread
Dutch Spice Bread

Dutch Spice Bread (Ontbijtkoek) 
Adapted from CDKitchen

2 C Flour
3t Baking Powder
1t Salt
1/2 C Dark Brown Sugar
1/3 C Treacle
1 C Milk
1 t Ground Cloves
1 t Ground Cinnamon
1 t Ground Ginger
1/2 t Ground Nutmeg

  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees C and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
  • Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and combine with a whisk to form a smooth paste.
  • Pour batter into loaf tin and bake for one hour.
  • Remove from oven and cover with foil.
  • Leave to sit for at least 24 hours before eating (I recommend three days).

Dutch Spice Bread
Dutch Spice Bread

I love family traditions especially when they revolve around food! Do you have any special family traditions or traditional foods?

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