Baking is a true science and for me baking is my passion, I put love into the things that I make. This makes a difference in the product, both in appearance and the way it tastes. My friends tend to say to me, ‘boy this is so good and tastes better than when I make it, what is your trick?” and my answer to them every time is one word…. Love. If you love what you do it will shine through your product and people can literally taste the difference.
My all time favourite Dutch dessert is Boterkoek (Dutch Butter Cake). This traditional Dutch dessert is somewhere between a tart and a shortbread. It has lots of butter, an almond flavour, a reminiscent of frangipane and makes a great afternoon treat at coffee/tea time. Oh my goodness my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
As for my Oma’s recipe, now that is a secret but I will share another recipe with you all that I found to produce a delicious product.
To make boterkoek:
- 150g butter
• 200g caster sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
• 1 egg, beaten
• 200g flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 20g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a 23cm (9 inch) cake tin with greaseproof paper.
In a medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar and almond extract until light and fluffy.
Remove one teaspoon of the beaten egg and set aside. Pour the rest of the egg into the mixture, and stir well. Add the flour and baking powder, and mix until you have a smooth dough.
Transfer the mixture to a baking tin, and pat down with the back of a spoon until smooth (you might find it easier to use clean hands to smooth the mixture). Mix the teaspoon of egg with a teaspoon of water, and brush on top of the boterkoek. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds, and bake for 25-30 minutes until just golden and firm to the touch.
Zaku Zaku Croquant Chou – During our short stay in Tokyo, my boyfriend and I stumbled upon a little snack shop inside Shinjuku train station. We didn’t think much of it at first although when we noticed how long the lineup was we decided to try it out because if it’s popular with the locals then it must be worth the wait. We were pleasantly surprised that the cream puff sticks were being made fresh right before our eyes. The store only offered one flavor – the original; which costs 300 yen (approximately $3 Canadian), although you can buy multiples for a discounted price.
The ‘cream puff’ was unlike any other cream puff I’ve ever tasted before. It seemed like there was a crunchy almond topping baked into it, with a custard filling inside.
Danish Bread – Although this bread was made in Hong Kong the owner of the chain of cafes that sells it originates from Japan (where the flagship store is located) and is definitely worth a mention. It is said that their dough is shipped fresh from Japan every morning then baked in Hong Kong to be sold and distributed to the various cafe locations. The company claims that when the dough is made the baker has put in 81 folds ! The cafe also sells numerous other types of baked goods such as cakes, tarts, and buns. However the danish bread is probably their best selling product and is sold in pre-packaged bags to customers; as a side for their pasta specials; and in many of their desserts. They come in many flavors – plain, chocolate, green tea, red bean, etc.
The texture of the bread is buttery and soft and resembles that of croissants.
Mushroom cream pasta with a side of salad and danish toast.
I didn’t come from a family of bakers but this is one recipe we make once a year—usually on special occasions like Christmas! This is called the 7 Layer Square. My mom and I have made them many times together and she got this recipe from her mother. There are many recipes out there just like this one but the one I am about to share with you is my favorite—it is a very simple but delicious sweet treat. Here is our 7 Layer recipe:
- Preheat oven to 325°
- Melt ½ cup of butter in microwave until fully melted.
- Pour the melted butter over 1 and ½ cups of graham crumbs
- Mix butter and graham crumbs together.
- Layer 1—Spread over a 12” x 8”baking pan (evenly distribute over pan ensuring the corners are filled). Now you have your first layer!
- Layer 2—Pour 1 cup of shredded coconut over the graham base.
- Layer 3—Pour 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top of the coconut.
- Layer 4—Pour 1 cup of butterscotch chocolate chips over semi-sweets.
- Layer 5—Pour 1 cup of pecans or walnuts over the chocolate chip layers.
- Layer 6—Pour ½ cup diced maraschino cherries. (I normally don’t use these—your preference).
- Layer 7—Pour 1 and ½ cans of Eaglebrand condensed milk. Don’t forget the corners!
- Bake at 325° F for 30 minutes
- To see if the 7 Layer Square is done, check for a bubbling center and golden brown edges.
- Let cool before serving (if not serving right away it can be frozen for up to 3 months).
This recipe is super tasty; I hope you all love them as much as I do!