For the love of butter

The random letter for this month’s AlphaBakes blog challenge, started by Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker (who is currently hosting) and Caroline at Caroline Makes is “B“.  Easy-peasy (lemon squeezy), I thought to myself when I read it, I can submit the blueberry jam that I’ve got planned.  It wasn’t until I was halfway through writing the blueberry jam post that I realised that jam doesn’t count as baked goods…  Not my brightest moment there.  As I mentioned in that post, if I’d been smart, I’d have bought twice as many blueberries and frozen half for baking.  But I wasn’t smart, and I didn’t.  So baking something with blueberries was out (although I have since found frozen blueberries at the supermarket).  With my not-so- genius plan scuppered, I wasn’t too sure what I was going to make for my entry.  And then, as I opened my fridge suddenly it hit me (almost literally as a pack of butter came tumbling out).

Anybody who has looked in my fridge can tell you that I usually have quite a reserve of butter.  At the moment I have just under 1.5kg stored in there.  1.5kg of butter for one person, I know.  I don’t usually stockpile quite as much, but butter is sold in 500g packs here and the supermarket is currently running a 2-for-1 promotion.  Between making quiche pastry on a very regular basis, general baking and occasionally (or not so occasionally…) things like buttercream icing, I do get through quite a bit of butter, so since I know it definitely won’t be going to waste, I’d quite like a pack of free butter, thank you very much.  I also seem to have a (slightly) irrational fear of running out of butter, and so I seem to stockpile it anyway (like I said, it doesn’t go to waste).  If there’s ever a butter shortage, I’ll probably make a fortune on the black market.  Anyway, I digress, so as a stray pack of butter tumbled out of my fridge, I realised that I should make boterkoek!!  I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before…  By the way, I think one of the AlphaBakes rules is that a standard ingredient doesn’t count as the letter (such as “flour” for F), so I know that butter probably doesn’t count, but since boterkoek obviously starts with a B, I think that this is still a valid entry (right?).

Perhaps I should back up a little and explain what boterkoek (pronounced botter-cook) actually is…  Boterkoek is a Dutch cake, best served alongside coffee.  The name translates as “butter cake” – butter makes up ⅓ of the total ingredients that go into this cake.  Now would probably be a good time to mention that this isn’t exactly the healthiest thing in the world.  In case you hadn’t realised that already.  If you’re on a diet, you should probably just stop reading.  Or stop your diet (clearly the better option).  I adore boterkoek – it might well be my favourite Dutch food ever – but you don’t come across it particularly often.  I’m not really sure why, perhaps because it’s not super healthy.  It’s a dense and compact crumbly cake, quite heavy and very buttery (you don’t say?).  It’s best eaten in small quantities and with a good, strong, black coffee to cut through the butteriness.  I don’t think I’m selling this very well.  It’s not like eating a stick of butter or anything, and although the texture is quite heavy, the flavour is fairly delicate (and yes, a bit buttery, but in a good way).  The best description that I can think of is that it’s just… lekker, but as that’s Dutch and this is an English blog, that doesn’t help much (unless you happen to speak Dutch).  Basically, it’s totally delicious, I promise!  One word of warning though: I find that it’s also a little bit addictive.  And by a little bit I mean a lot, because despite everything that I’ve just said, I can easily eat about a third of the cake in one go.  On its own, with no coffee to wash it down.  It went down a storm during our lab coffee break yesterday, with everybody helping themselves to seconds (thirds in some cases)… how’s that for a recommendation?

Boterkoek

Makes about 20 slices
Recipe from one of my mum’s friend

This makes a perfect coffe-time treat, and is incredibly easy and quick to throw together (and you probably already have all the ingredients), although it does take a while to cool.  It’s best served in small portions as it is quite rich – people can always help themselves to more if they wish!  Adding the egg makes the boterkoek more moist (and delicious), but apparently you can choose to omit it (though I’ve never tried without the egg).  If you choose not to use the egg, then brush the top of the cake with a little bit of milk instead.  The boterkoek will keep for a few days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Ingredients

300g all-purpose flour
300g caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
300g unsalted butter
1 egg

Directions

1.  Line a 20 x 25 cm baking tin with baking parchment (lining the tin means that it’s much easier to lift the cake out once it’s baked.  You can choose not to line the tin because there’s enough butter in the recipe for the cake not to stick, but it will probably get a little messy).  Pre-heat the oven to fan 175°C.

2.  Add the flour, sugar and vanilla sugar to a large mixing bowl.  Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the bowl.  Rub together with chilled hands (or cut through with two knives, but with your hands is better – and more fun!) to form a crumbly mixture that starts to come together.

3.  Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl, and add ½ of the egg to the butter mixture (yes, ½.  I know that’s a stupid amount, but if you add any more, the dough will be too soggy and wet).  Set the remaining egg aside.  Knead together to form a slightly sticky dough (there are a couple of photos of the dough at the end if you’re unsure).

4.  Transfer the dough to the lined baking tin and press it down evenly across the tin (make sure to get it into the corners and everything – it won’t spread too much, and shouldn’t be too thick or it won’t bake properly) and so that the top is smooth.  Brush the top of the cake with the remaining egg and score pretty patterns across the top using a fork.  Bake for about 35 mins until wonderfully golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

5.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 30-35 mins in the tin before lifting out and transferring it to a wire rack to cool fully before cutting up and serving.

Enjoy!

I’ve been asked to put up a photo of the dough before baking – it should come together as a slightly sticky dough, but still a bit crumbly when you handle it:

When you transfer it to the lined baking tin, press it into the edges so that it’s an even thickness across the whole baking tray.  Make sure to get it right into the corners and smooth the top (I haven’t quite finished with the dough below, but you get the idea) before brushing with the egg and scoring with a fork, and then popping into the oven.

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12 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

12 responses to “For the love of butter

  1. strongassoup

    That’s a lot of butter but it looks so good. I know it would be sensible to stop at one small piece but I’m not sure that would be possible.

    • Mel

      Thanks! Ya, it’s definitely one of those “I should really just have this one little piece, but it’s sooo good… Another little piece will be fine” types of cakes. And then five (large) pieces later… Woops. (Or perhaps that’s just me…)

  2. How did I miss this?? So sorry for not dropping in earlier – sometimes I do things in my head but not in real life. Thanks for entering this to AlphaBakes and really embracing our challenge! I stockpile butter as well especially when there is a special offer on so I’m pleased I’m not the only one 🙂 This cake sounds delicious and how can it not considering the amount of butter in it. I really must try this one day 🙂

    • Mel

      That’s ok! I do that all the time – thinking I’ve replied to something, but actually I only did so in my head… Yay, another fellow butter-stockpiler, so glad it’s not just me that gets overly-enthusiastic with special offers on butter! Looking forward to the next AlphaBakes…

  3. Ro

    Could you possibly post a picture of the dough before you put it in the oven? i tried making it and it was kind of sticky dough, but my friend (who’s Dutch) told me that it was supposed to be more crumbly? It tasted delicious anyway, so thanks! But I was just curious

    • Mel

      I don’t actually have a picture of the dough before baking, but I’ll make a batch this weekend and take a photo and post that for you. I would describe the dough as kind of sticky but still a tiny little bit crumbly. To make it more crumbly you can always omit the egg. I think that like all traditional recipes, everybody has a slightly different way of making it! Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, and if you found it delicious, that’s the most important thing!

    • Mel

      Hi Ro, I’ve added a couple of photos in at the end of the dough before baking – they’re not the best, but I hope they answer your question/satisfy your curiosity!

      • Ro

        Thank you so much! Yeah, my dough was a little more put together, if you know what I mean. Hmmmmm maybe I added too much of the egg? Thanks again!

      • Mel

        No worries Ro! Ya, as you say perhaps you added in a little too much egg. I always find it difficult to get the egg right – half is such an awkward measurement for an egg!

  4. Pingback: Just bear with me whilst I wax lyrical about Auckland’s public libraries | Sharky Oven Gloves

  5. Susan

    I make a variation of this recipe using my husband’s Oma’s recipe at Christmas. Is it possible to freeze boterkoek? I am trying to bake in advance (planning super early for the next holiday season), but as no mention of freezing occurs in Oma’s recipe, I’ve been hesitant to freeze it and always make it in the final days before Christmas (when everything is simply a rushing blur).

    • Mel

      I’ve never tried freezing boterkoek, so I’m afraid I don’t know (sorry!). Perhaps freezing the mixture would work better than freezing the baked cake, but I’m really not sure! Do let me know if you try, I’m intrigued!

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