Groninger Koek: a recipe for a traditional loaf

While in Groningen, of course, this foodie had to sample local and traditional fare.One of the items which will now be regularly eaten at breakfast is Groninger Koek. Don’t be mistaken: it’s not a cookie.

bolletje 2Groninger Koek looks and feels like something between a dark loaf and cake. In the Netherlands, it’s not served with afternoon tea. Instead, slices of the rectangular loaf are eaten at breakfast. It’s a variation of what in the Netherlands is called “ontbijtkoek”, or breakfast cookie.

Peijnenburg cookieLiving in the Netherlands or Belgium? Your local supermarket sells different variations. Some are just called “ontbijtkoek”, others are called “Groninger koek”, and I even came across “oude wijven koek” or Old Wives’ Cookie. The latter contains more anise than others. supermarket chains will sell their own versions, but well-known brands are Peijnenburg and Bolletje.

Want to try creating your own? Take this recipe and start experimenting:

200 g rye flour
50 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 g brown sugar
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
pinch of fine sea salt

Or leave all the above spices out and replace with two to three tsp of “koek and speculaas” spices. My earlier post about Lojola in Antwerp contains information on how to make this mix of spices. Scroll down to the end of this post and you’ll have several variations of “Koek en Speculaas” spices.

1 egg
30 ml dark molasses
237 ml of water

40 g candied ginger, chopped in squares; or 200 g of any combination of currants, raisins, nuts, candied fruit such as cherries chopped in halves, candied peel from oranges and other fruit, even dark chocolate chips.


Preheat oven to 180º C. Butter and flour an 22 x 12 cm cake or loaf tin.

Mix flours and baking powder, sugar, spices and salt in a large bowl or your kitchen machine.

Lightly beat the egg in another bowl. Add water and molasses and ensure the three ingredients are well mixed.

Add the egg, water, molasses mix to the flour mix. Ensure the two different mixtures become one thick batch.

If you want your loaf to contain candied fruits, dried fruits, and other ingredients, add these to the batch at the last moment. Ensure these ingredients are whisked through but not cut to pieces. So if using a kitchen machine: pulse just a few times.

Pour the mix into your greased cake or loaf tin and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. As with an ordinary (fruit) cake: if you push a tooth pick in and pull it out, it should come out clean.

Let your Groninger koek cool for 10 to 15 minutes, before carefully removing it from its tin. Leave to cool. Though as the cook, you are of course entitled to cut a tiny slice to test its taste, this loaf is best served with real butter, at breakfast the next morning.

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