Peperkoek – ontbijtkoek – kruidkoek
So, what is peperkoek?
Some translate peperkoek as gingerbread or spiced cake or honey cake; pain d’épices (au miel).
According to Wikipedia :
An ontbijtkoek (literally translated breakfast cake) or peperkoek (pepper cake) is a Dutch and Flemish spiced cake. Rye is its most important ingredient, coloring the cake light brown. It is often spiced with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, succade and nutmeg. Several parts of the Netherlands have their own local recipe, of which the most famous is oudewijvenkoek (old woman’s cake), which is mostly eaten in the northern regions, and is flavored with aniseed. Ontbijtkoek is traditionally served at breakfast with a thick layer of butter on top, as a replacement for bread, however, due to its sweet taste it is also served as a snack. It is best eaten the day after it is baked.
What is onbijtkoek?
Onbijtkoek, or peperkoek, is a traditional baked cake of Flemish and Dutch origin. This spice bread is made from rye flour, all-purpose flour, milk, honey, black molasses and brown sugar. It has a fairly dense texture and a dark brown coloration due to the presence of rye flour.
Very flavorful, it contains many spices: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, vanilla and anise.
Across the Netherlands and parts of Belgium, there are many varieties of ontbijtkoek available in stores. Some contain candied fruit, ginger or even nuts and are sprinkled with pearl sugar.
In the north of the Netherlands, the local variant is called oudewijvenkoek, which can be translated to “cake of old women”. It is very similar to ontbijtkoek, the particularity of oudewijvenkoek being that it is more flavored with anise.
Another version is called kroninger koek, and for its part contains pieces of candied lemons.
Finally, Deventer koek, which takes its name from its origins in the city of Deventer, is traditionally flavored with bitter orange.
I love it
While I must be careful with sugar and carbs, I love my peperkoek, having two slices for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, with butter. My preferred brands are Meli (not the one with pearl sugar on top), see their famous Honingkoek (couque au miel) (https://www.meli.be/producten/honingkoek) and Vondelmolen.
My Dutch friends satisfy my craving by bringing the Dutch versions such as Bolletje and Peijnenburg; they come is nice plastic containers I use for the Belgian ones. The taste is different but they are very nice too.
As for now it has not been accepted by Chinese customers, the general reaction is “too sweet”. A bit strange as some Chinese deserts, sweet and snacks are nearly pure sugar. Maybe they should try them with afternoon tea and with butter!