This rich and easy-to-make cake has the same ingredients as a sponge, but in markedly different ratios. It’s a traditional Dutch recipe which I’ve made GF, and in basic form is quite plain – but allows you wide scope for creativity.
Flavouring options and topping suggestions are in the footnotes. Please review those prior to making your version of this very delicious cake.
- 200g unsalted butter, cubed and softened, + additional to grease tin
- 200g sugar (golden caster is best; but white caster will do)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, beaten (62-68g when weighed in its shell)
- 250g self-raising gluten-free flour
(if you have plain GF flour, add 1 & 1/2 tsp GF baking powder)
- 1 small egg, beaten
- Optional additions (see Footnote):
– 1 tsp almond extract
– 1 tsp lemon extract, or 2 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice
– 10g desiccated coconut nibs
– Grated lemon and/or lime zest, almond flakes, desiccated coconut flakes, icing sugar (garnish options)
- A 9-10″ (23-24cm) diameter round, springform or loose-bottomed cake tin
- Baking/parchment paper to line tin’s bottom
- 1 large mixing bowl + 1 small bowl for beaten egg
- Electric mixer (hand-held or stand) if not creaming butter/sugar by hand
- Citrus grater (optional)
- Small frying pan to toast coconut (optional)
- Pastry brush and fork
- Cooling rack
- Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted). Lightly grease the inside of your tin and line the bottom with paper.
- Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Add the large beaten egg some at a time, continually whisking.
- Manually fold in the flour (and baking powder, if using), 1/3 at a time, until fully incorporated. It will be more like cookie dough than cake batter.
- Dollop into your prepared tin and smooth the top. Drag the tines of a fork through the top to create the pattern of your choice*, then brush the top with the smaller beaten egg.
*The most traditional look is a multi-cross-hatch almost like a tartan pattern; but drag the tines / wiggle them / swirl them as you like.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the tin and reduce the heat to 170 C (150 C fan-assisted). Bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown, the cake is pulling away slightly from the sides of the tin, and a light finger tap in the centre springs back quickly.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a cooling rack for around 30 minutes before turning out.
Although a traditional boterkoek has only vanilla and/or almond extract, I feel it can be improved by adding a bit of citrus to cut through the richness. If adding lemon/lime zest as a topping, I would add lemon extract or fresh lemon or lime juice to the butter & sugar. This isn’t traditional at all, but the zingy freshness was heartily welcomed by my tasters.
Another addition I tried which worked quite well – again, not traditional boterkoek at all – is toasted coconut nibs. You can dry-fry the nibs in a very hot frying pan for 1 minute, to toast them to a light golden brown, before adding to the cake batter with the flour. If doing this, toasting some dessicated coconut flakes in the same way to sprinkle over the top of the cooled cake is a grand idea.
The traditional boterkoek is usually served quite plain, but you can top with:
– Fresh raspberries or other soft, fresh & tart fruit;
– Grated lemon and/or lime zest;
– Flaked almonds;
– Dessicated coconut flakes;
– And/or a dusting of icing sugar
If topping with citrus zest, it’s best to grate it onto an oven-safe plate. When the cake has baked, turn off the oven and put the zest plate in the oven – door ajar – to dry out as the oven cools. Put 2 small pinches of caster sugar over the dried zest, mix with your fingers to ensure all strands are coated, then sprinkle over the top of the cake.
I discovered this traditional Dutch cake on Twitter via NoFailRecipes, but did further research to learn more. I decided to adapt the Laura’s Bakery recipe (in Dutch) although there are hundreds out there. Some say to use soft light brown sugar (I found this resulted in more of a brownie than a cake), but all the Netherlands recipe websites (sample here) showed a cross-hatch decoration and used beaten egg to glaze. But to make the cake square / round / rectangular? The joy of a simple recipe is that everyone can personalise it to make it their own.