Today I share with you a recipe of a Dutch classic: boterkoek. It’s one of those recipes that comes with heart-warming memories of mothers or grandmothers making them for us when we were little. But for some reason, it’s not a thing we tend to make ourselves. Perhaps because by the time my generation started baking, cheesecakes became all the rage and we forgot about where we came from. Time for a change.
Boterkoek gets its name from the vast amount of butter it contains. Literally, boterkoek translates as butter cookie. Some dictionaries suggest translating it as shortbread or butter biscuit. However, a quick search for recipes on the internet made it clear to me that although those things are made of roughly the same ingredients, they are not the same thing. They simply do not contain enough butter.
My mother used to bake boterkoek when I was little. I don’t remember for what type of occasion, perhaps a birthday or just because it was the weekend. Unfortunately, she forgot her recipe. So when I wanted to bake one myself last week, I turned to a 1970s cookbook and adapted the recipe to my preferences and updated appliances (read: less sugar + a food processor + a better-insulated oven). And I’m happy to say, it tastes just as good as in my memories.
- Butter a 24 - 26 cm boterkoek tin, and preheat the oven to 175°C.
- Sieve flour and sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes. From here you can go one of two ways. If you wish to go old school, add butter, salt, and vanilla to the bowl. Grab two knives and cut the butter into even smaller cubes while mixing it with the other ingredients. Then knead quickly with cool hands into a soft dough. Or take the more modern route, dump everything in your food processor, and let it do the work for you.
- Press the dough evenly into the form. Since it is so soft, I find it easiest to do this with the back of a spoon. Wet the spoon every couple of strokes to keep it cool. Coat the top with a thin layer of whisked egg.* And now it's time for the part that's set in so many childhood memories: creating a diamond pattern with a fork.
- Place the tin on a rack just below the middle of the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden. Let it cool down almost completely before removing it from the tin.
- The egg is not strictly necessary, so feel free to omit it. The boterkoek will be a little more blond than golden but tastes just as delicious.
100g caster sugar
250g cold butter
a pinch of salt
1/2tsp vanilla bean paste
1 egg, whisked