Drentse Turfkoek

This week, I spent some time editing and posting videos on our YouTube channel about the province of Drenthe and its role in turf production during the last two centuries. Commercial turf logging started in the second half of the 19th century and lasted until the middle of the 20th century, but as early as the 16th century, the people in the Netherlands used dried peat (turf) to heat their homes. 

Logging the raised bogs caused the landscape to change drastically, as you can imagine, as several canals were dug to benefit the transportation of the fossil fuel. For a short while, people from all over the country moved to Drenthe to try their luck in the industry, but life as a peat laborer was tough. When newer sources of fuel emerged, such as the Limburg coal, the peat industry dwindled quickly. Fortunately, it prevented the province from losing all of its natural beauty, so if you find yourself in the Netherlands with some time on your hands, it is an interesting destination to visit. 

And when you do, you will see that Drenthe embraces its turf history with gusto. A typical product that you will find at local bakeries, and slices of it offered with your cup of coffee, is the Drenthse turfkoek, a turf cake, so called because of its appearance. Its shape, elongated and rounded at the edges, is said to mimic the shape of a peat log. This is a fairly new invention, which results in different bakers using a variety of approaches, all tasty and delicious. The main ingredients are koekkruiden (a mix of herbs and spices), brown sugar, milk, and dried fruits and nuts. I used brandied walnuts, raisins (boerenjongens), and apricots (boerenmeisjes) from my oliebollen baking on New Year's eve, but you can also use apple, chocolate chips, or anything else that you fancy. You're looking for a sturdy cake with lots of chunky fillings, much like a peat log, but better tasting :-)

If you don't have an oval tin to bake in, you can easily use an 8 x 4, or a 9 x 5 cake form. 

Drentse Turfkoek
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (250 grams)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (150 grams)
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3 teaspoons koekkruiden*
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (75 grams)
3/4 cup dried fruits (currants, raisins, apricots...)** (100 grams)
1 egg
1 cup milk (250 ml)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Mix the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, spices, walnuts, dried fruits). Beat the egg with the milk and pour the liquid into the bowl with the dry mix. 

Grease a baking form, pour in the batter, and bake at 325F for 40 minutes, or until the cake is done. Test for doneness with a toothpick or metal skewer: if it comes out dry, the cake is done. 

Cool on a rack for five to ten minutes, then take out of the form and wrap in clingfilm. As the cake does not have any fat, it will dry out faster, so keep it wrapped. 

Dust lightly with powdered sugar, and slice in thick slices, slather with butter (or not) and serve with a cup of coffee or tea. 



* For koekkruiden, mix 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon cardamom, 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper, and, if you have it, 1/8 teaspoon of dried orange peel. If you like the flavor of anise, add a 1/8th teaspoon of ground anise to give it a special twist. Smell and decide if you like it.  You are welcome to make it your very own, but make sure you write down the quantities and ingredients so you can replicate your personal recipe. Store in an airtight jar. You can also use speculaaskruiden which have the addition of 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. 

**soak your dried fruit in warm water for thirty minutes, then drain and pat dry before folding in the flour

3 comments:

  1. O wat leuk Nicole, deze ga ik maken. Ik woon tegenwoordig in Drenthe, heb er nog nooit van gehoord, maar ja ik kom zelf ook niet vaak bij de lokale bakker.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Made this yesterday and even though my pan was not as you described, it worked well and was very tasty. Thank you. We only have a small bit left.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We made this yesterday and although my pan was not as you described, it worked well and was very tasty. Only a small bit left. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

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