Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Boterkoek


This recipe is by far the closest to my heart.  I am honored to share it with you.


As I've mentioned before, I am half Dutch and had a wonderful grandmother, Oma.  She taught me nearly everything I know about cooking and baking.
When I had a question about food I did not search the internet, I called Oma. 
 The smells of meat browning in butter and Boterkoek baking in the oven are irrevocably associated with her and make me miss her so badly it hurts.
But I wouldn't trade those sensory memories for anything, and through baking I can share my kitchen and my life with her.


She baked one of these nearly every week for my Opa (the luckiest man on Earth).  Boterkoek means "butter cake" in Dutch, and believe me, it was appropriately named.  
It's also unbelievably simple--it only has six ingredients and I no longer need to look at a recipe to make it.  It's definitely a crowd-pleaser, and everyone will ask you for the recipe.


So preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get ready to never again live without this ridiculously delicious Dutch pastry.




Put two mutilated sticks of softened butter into a large mixing bowl.  If you're normal and don't subject your butter to torture in the microwave, just put two softened sticks of butter into a bowl and continue being normal.




Add a cup of granulated sugar...




And cream them together until they look all fluffy, like this.




The wonderful thing about family recipes is that the steps can seem a bit strange, but through these peculiar instructions you will create something no cookbook can come close to.  
So when I tell you to beat an egg and reserve 1/4 of it and only add 3/4 of it to the dough, you just have to trust that it'll be wonderful.



Lightly beat an egg...




And reserve one spoonful of the egg so you can use it as an egg wash later.




I'm not sure why this picture is oriented like this, but in any case, add the egg into the equation (give or take a spoonful).




Boterkoek usually calls for almond extract, but Oma did not feel like spending a huge amount of money on the stuff, so she used lemon zest and vanilla.  Not only is this cheaper, it's also tasty!  These are mini lemons.  Aren't they cute? I used two because it calls for one regular-sized lemon.  Don't use two average lemons, please.




Go ahead and zest the lemons...




Dump in the zest and the vanilla...




Combine all the ingredients and get ready to add the flour!




Add the flour...




You might think it's ready, but alas, it is not.
One thing I learned is that the finished product turns out much better when you manhandle the dough a bit.  I literally throw it between my hands and warm it up.  Don't question it, it's good.  




It'll look more uniform and smooth once you've handled it a bit.




Use you grandmother's old, beat-up baking pan.  That little bar really works...I still use butter to grease the pan, but it loosens the Boterkoek from the pan pretty well.  




Press the dough into the pan...




Remember the egg we reserved?  Pour it onto the dough...




At this point, you are going to brush the egg onto the surface of the dough.  But because I believe in honesty, I'm going to tell you that I do not know where my pastry brush is and I just used my hands.  So feel free to use your hands, just make sure you wash them afterwards!




It looks a bit odd, but it makes the top all shiny and purty.




Now to create that diamond pattern on the top you are going to make  diagonals on the surface of the dough with a knife (I use a metal butter knife).  




You're gonna rotate the pan and do another set of diagonals in the opposite direction.  


Pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes, until it looks like this:




Beautiful, is it not?




Please let this cool before you cut it.  Please? Just do it, okay? Oma always screamed at me not to touch it until it had fully cooled, and I didn't learn this lesson until I tried cutting it while it was warm and it completely fell apart and tasted awful.
The cooling process is essential, and please don't be like me...just listen to my advice.  Make sense?




It's probably best if you start with a tiny slice because you need to realize that if you go crazy and eat a fourth of this guy, you're eating half a stick of butter.  I'm just trying to be your friend here.


This, friends, is the epitome of lekker.


I hope you love this as much as I do.  I hope you share it with all the people you love.


I hope your summer is going well!
Annelise


Here's the recipe:


2 sticks of butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg (divided)
the zest of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour


Preheat your oven to 350.  Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
Lightly beat the egg and reserve about a spoonful and set aside.  Pour the egg (minus the one spoonful) into the butter mixture.  Add the lemon zest and vanilla until combined.  Gradually add in the flour until thoroughly combined.  Take the dough out of the bowl and warm it up in your hands until it's smooth and uniform.
Grease a round cake pan and press the dough into it.
Pour the reserved egg over the top of the dough and spread it around (using your trusty pastry brush or even your hand).  To make the design on the top, use a metal butter knife to make diagonals on the surface of the dough.  Rotate the pan about 90 degrees and make the same pattern running in the opposite direction.
Pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown.  Enjoy!



4 comments:

  1. I learnt how to make boterkoek today. And appeltaart. I was born in Holland and came out to Australia when I was 18 months old. I grew up with all this food and am finally learning how to make them myself so I can feed my children all of their Oma & Opa's food.
    Enjoy your baking journey :)

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  2. I've been eating boterkoek my whole life but have never heard of the vanilla/lemon zest alternative to almond extract. Tried it and loved it!! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  3. How do you cook the meat in butter I crave it :)

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  4. Hey loved this recipe. I made it though I didn't have a zoster so I chopped the peel after slicing it off with a sharp knife. Had lots of fun making it. I was a bit concerned at first because my fluffy butter didn't look like it did in your picture. Thanks. It will make my dad happy!

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