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