Meergranenbroodjes

Bread plays an important role in Dutch food. Holland, or the Netherlands, is one of the largest bread consumers of Europe, purchasing about 120 lbs of this fantastic fare per year. Many a tourist, when stepping inside a Dutch bakery, grocery store or sandwich shop, is surprised by the large amount of bread varieties and toppings to choose from. But for a country where two out of three meals mainly consist of bread and bread toppings, the variety is not so much an option as a necessity. 

These two meals (usually breakfast and lunch, although some families will eat a warm lunch and consume their second bread meal at dinner time) will generally contain a variety of breads, with white and whole grain breads as the most common choices at the table. This is not by accident.....bread meals tend to consist of two servings: a slice of bread with a savory topping such as cheese or cold cuts is eaten first, the second serving usually consists of a sweet spread, and finishes the meal, so to say. Besides the standard sliced white or brown (i.e. whole wheat) loaf, a large selection of rolls, luxury breads and crispier options such as beschuit and knäckebröd is also available. 

The Dutch are well-known for their large variety of breads: all variations of wheat are represented, the whole gamut from white to whole wheat, rye, malt and sourdough. Ancient grains such as spelt and emmer have made a fabulous comeback. And not many countries have as many bread toppings as the Dutch do, ranging from sweet to savory and just about everything in between, which makes eating a bread meal interesting and tasty! Where else but in Holland can you put chocoladehagel, chocolate sprinkles, on your bread without anybody raising an eyebrow?!  

Beside white rolls and Dutch crunch, a popular roll is the multigrain roll, or the meergranenbroodjes. A favorite choice for weekend brunches, these rolls are usually eaten with savory toppings, such as cheese or ham. They are also a favorite for that other ubiquitous sandwich, the broodje gezond, the healthy sandwich. 

Meergranenbroodjes
2 tablespoons of barley malt syrup
1 ½ cup warm water
3 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup of bread flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup  rye flour
½ cup barley flour
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons flax seed
2 tablespoons rolled oats
2 teaspoon salt

Topping
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon rolled oats
2 tablespoons flax seed

Dissolve the two tablespoons of barley malt syrup in the warm water, and sprinkle the yeast on top to proof. While you wait, mix the different flours together with the seeds and the salt. When the yeast has proofed, stir it into the flour and mix until the dough comes together, then knead for a good five to six minutes to develop the gluten. Round the dough into a ball, rest in a greased bowl and cover. Allow to rise at room temperature until double its size, approximately 40 minutes.

Punch down the dough and roll back into a ball. Dust the counter with a little bit of flour and relax the dough, covered, for about ten minutes. In the meantime, put parchment paper or a silicone mat on a baking sheet, and mix the seeds for the topping. Place them in a shallow plate. Carefully roll the dough into a circle, about seven inches wide. Use a dough cutter or a sharp knife to divide the dough into 8 wedges, much like a pie. Brush the top of each wedge with a little bit of water, then dip the wet top into the seeds. Repeat with each wedge. Lay the rolls on the baking sheet, with enough space to expand. Cover and let rise for thirty minutes.

Heat the oven to 425F. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 195F.

Makes 8 rolls.

Spotted!

Every now and then I spend some time seeing who visits the website of The Dutch Table, and how they found us. I love the fact that so many are interested in Dutch Food and so willing to write about it, cook it and share their stories. Most of all, I am grateful that you list the source! I am only too happy to return the favor.

The last couple of weeks, we had people visit The Dutch Table through the links posted on these websites: take some time to visit the blogs, forums and read people's stories. We are all connected through our wonderful Dutch food!


Now tell me, how amazing is that! Give these folks a round of applause, they know what good food is all about! :-)

We are seen here, here and here....but not here!

The annual Saveur Best Food Blog Awards came and went, and I'm sad to say that we've gone another year without even a single mention! Well, sad....not really. I would love to see more exposure to our national cuisine, with all its history, quirks, oddities and influences. But I am not a super duper food photographer, I'm not an exceptional food writer, and I lack the technical skills to turn the website into an amazingly designed online miracle.

But that's really not what it's all about, is it? If I can write the recipe down, show you how it's made and what it's supposed to look like when it shows up at the table, and give you a bit of history as to why or how we cook certain dishes, we're doing pretty good! I hope it encourages you to try and make some things yourself, perhaps reminisce a bit with some of the stories, and trust that you will share this with your children, your family and a good friend or two.

- In the meantime, I am tickled pink to see that The Dutch Table's recipes and photographs showed up on the I Am Expat website, in Benjamin Gartska's article about Dutch Easter Brunch.

- Also, the news section of the website for Dutchies, a restaurant in Hermanus, South Africa, was so kind as to publish some of our pictures.

- And I loved seeing our Dutch mustard soup on the BuzzFeed's list of 15 Deliciously Spicy Dishes From Around The World!

This is what makes me happy! Real people, real interests: and as time progresses I'll continue to capture our food history online: with recipes, pictures and anecdotes. I've been doing this for four years, and I have at least four more years of material, and that's just off the top of my head.

If you don't see a weekly post, don't worry. I've been updating some of the older posts, getting some new pictures in there and re-testing and adjusting some of the older recipes. It's a labor of love, and a live project. The latest updates were Mokkataart en Honingkoek. If you join us on Facebook, on The Dutch Table's page, you'll be kept informed of all updates.

Thank you all for your kind messages, for your support and for keeping our culinary culture alive!

Nicole


It's that time of the year again!




Every year we try to get the word out about good, traditional, yummie Dutch food. Our cuisine is not too well known, mainly because we're so humble about it, partly because it's just not very Dutch to insanely brag about something so common and ordinary. It's just food, people! seems to be the common attitude.

But we tend to forget that our food is really, really good! We have some of the most plentiful, healthy, nutritious and affordable foods, and even Oxfam's report was bragging about us earlier this year. So why not do the same? Let go of some of that Calvinistic "act normal, that's crazy enough" attitude and shout it, clad in orange, from the rooftops:

"I LOVE Dutch food! Give me bitterballen, give me hope, let me never go without my stroop!"

Or you could just nominate us for this year's Saveur Best Food Blog Award and spare yourself getting strange looks from the neighbors. That's okay, too :-)

Click here: Saveur Best Food Blog Award to nominate The Dutch Table. When asked, the URL is www.thedutchtable.com.

Many thanks!!
Nicole

Joodse Boterkoek

Boterkoek, butter cake, is a traditional Dutch delicacy. The Belgians do not have anything similar to it, nor do the Germans. The French have a Breton butter cake, but that's a completely different animal. Nope, the boterkoek is most definitely Dutch, with its crunchy sides and soft, tender heart.

It's definitely not for the faint of heart, or the dainty eaters, nor for the more refined consumer. Boterkoek, since its early appearance in the thirtiesappears to be a confection for the common people. It was not sold in the higher-end patisseries or bakeries in town, nor could it be found in the tea rooms of the upper classes. Even the traditional boterkoek baking pans, the shallow tart pans with the built-in slider, were not stocked in the higher-end specialty stores, according to Johannes van Dam, the famous Dutch food writer, but could easily be found in more eh...general stores like Blokker and Hema.

But in the homes of the hard workers, the farmers, the fishermen, the harbor workers and other physically challenging jobs, a small square of boterkoek was well received, together with a cup of strong coffee to cut through some of the greasy goodness. Made with (good) butter, i.e. not margarine, sugar and flour, the butter cake is probably one of the easiest cakes to make, and probably one of the first ones that kids learn to make at home.

Somehow there is a Jewish connection with boterkoek, as it was traditionally served on Shabbat in Dutch Jewish homes. Claudia Roden includes a recipe for Joodse Boterkoek in her book "The Book of Jewish Food", where she mentions that  the boterkoek is part of "a few dishes, seen as Jewish but presenting a distinctive Dutch character."  The Dutch Joodse boterkoek, Jewish butter cake, is per definition made with candied ginger.

Joodse Boterkoek
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 cup of candied ginger

1 egg for brushing

Mix the butter with the sugar until it comes together, then add the flour. Chop the ginger into small strips and add 3/4 of the amount to the dough. When the flour has been absorbed, add in the egg, mix it a few more times until it appears to be a cohesive dough.

Butter a square or round baking pan (9 inches) and place a bottom of parchment paper in there. Pat the dough into the pan, refrigerate it for 10 minutes, then brush it with the beaten egg and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 of ginger on top. Bake in an 350F oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until the sides start browning.

Remove from the oven, and let cool down completely before removing the cake from the pan. Cut into small squares. Serve at room temperature with some good coffee.