Janny de Moor Janny de Moor

Spice cake (Kruidkoek)


Baking tool:

  • rectangular non-stick cake tin,
  • contents 1 ½ l ,
  • greased and sprinkled with bread crumbs


Batter (makes about 20 slices):

  • 500 g plain flour
  • 4 level tsp baking powder (16 g)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 350 g Muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • 400-450 ml full-cream milk


On top (optional):

  • 50 g small pearl sugar*

When visiting a Middle Eastern suq (narrow market street) for the first time, I felt at home immediately. It smelled just like having coffee with spiced koek in my mother’s Dutch kitchen.

No doubt there is a strong link: the spice route over land was the monopoly of the Arabs for a long time until seafaring European nations took over the trade in the sixteenth century. The origin of cake is Middle Eastern too, even the tasty name is attested in Sumerian texts as goog in about 2500 B.C.

Our simple recipe here dates from World War II when the traditional cakes, made from rye flour and honey were not for sale. Today’s Dutch spice cakes are mostly factory made. Kruidkoek is often presented well-buttered at breakfast in the Netherlands. My expat children still bake it in England since English gingerbread is not quite the same.

  • Preheat the oven on 150˚C/300˚F/gas 2.
  • Shake the loose breadcrumbs from the tin.
  • Mix all ingredients except the milk in a large bowl. Take care not to leave sugar lumps.
  • Pour in the milk bit by bit stirring all the time. Now whisk a smooth batter, which should drop from a spoon like treacle. It depends on the moistness of your flour how much milk you will need.
  • Pour the smooth batter into the tin and bake on the lower ridge for 1 ½ hour. Control the doneness with a roasting pin. If it comes out clean, your koek is ready. But not to eat!
  • Turn immediately onto a wire rack. Leave to cool. After that, wrap into aluminium foil, and let stand at least three days enabling the spices to fully develop their taste.


* In the Netherlands only available at special baking shops. Same hard sugar as for sugar bread, but the grains are as small as little hailstones.

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