Here, I give you the Koek recipe. But first the back story…
It was a little alarming at first to realize just how proudly Dutch my in-laws are. I remember being given a package of Rusk on my first Christmas with them…I promptly opened it and took a bite.
If you’ve ever eaten very thick cardboard, you know exactly how it tasted.
It was quickly explained to me through their giggling, that you are suppose to put butter and Hagelslag on it before you eat it.
Hagelslag does not sound like something I’ll be using, I thought. Of course naturally, Hagelslag means Chocolate Hail…I’m not sure why we couldn’t have said that in the first place. And chocolate hail means chocolate sprinkles made of real chocolate. But if I were you, I would NEVER, ever refer to chocolate hail as chocolate sprinkles in the presence of a truly Dutch person. It could get ugly.
Anyhow, on to the Koek.
You probably think that since Koek tastes so simple, then it must also be simple to make.
Ah ha ha.
You, like me, have sadly underestimated the Dutch. They are clean, and grow lovely flowers, but their recipes are a maze of insanity. I found that out the hard way years ago when I asked my sweet Mother-in-law for her Koek recipe. She very sweetly wrote it out for me. Then I quickly began to ruin it. I probably made it about 20 failed times before I cracked that code.
I happened to be visiting her one day while she was making Koek. I noticed that she was gently mixing one egg on TOP of the bowl of flour and sugar mixture. I repeat: She cracked the egg onto the flour. And MIXED it carefully on TOP of the flour.
I acted sort of dumbfounded about this tactic, since she had failed to mention this little tidbit in her recipe. When I asked her about this issue, she said “Oh yes, it would ruin your Koek if you didn’t do this part”.
AHHHHHH!!! WHAT? Are you kidding me right now?!!! I probably glared at her. Sometimes I glare at people without realizing it.
So as you can see, explaining the proper way to make Koek takes awhile.
In case you were wondering, Koek is the short version of the word. This kind of “Koek”, or cake is Bruine (brown) Koek. It’s really more of a cookie or a bar than a koek.
Here we go. I will explain the technique first, and then give you the recipe.
First, a note about which flour you use. For some dumb reason, it’s a complicating issue in this blasted recipe. Apparently the finer the flour, the sloppier the Koek. So don’t buy presifted flour, and don’t for pete’s sake, sift your flour. If in the last stage when you’re about to put it into the pan, you think hmm, this looks REALLY greasy, it’s probably because there isn’t enough flour…in that case, I just grab a handful of flour and mix it in really quick. But I understand if that makes you uncomfortable. I’m just mentioning all the crazy things I have had to do to make my Koek turn out.
Also, I wouldn’t use a mixer, or a Kitchenaid for this, you will have much less control of what is going wrong.
Take a large bowl, add the flour, sugars, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. I used to mix it with a fork, which shocked dear Alice, my mother-in-law. She bought me a very nice pastry cutter which works much better than a fork. You will want to mix it extremely well.
Okay, do not do the butter step before you have mixed the flour and sugar mixture. It will mess it up. Because if the butter sits after it is completely melted, it will make your Koek dry. Just trust me.
You should have preheated the oven, greased your 9×13 baking dish, and have the flour ready. Now, start melting the butter (I use the microwave), at the same time that you start melting the butter, start that mixing the egg very gently with a wooden spoon on TOP of the flour, incorporating only a small amount of flour with it while you mix. Then add the 1/4 cup of water to the egg you just mixed up, still on TOP of the flour mixture. The butter should be added to the egg/water mixture very quickly after it’s melted, (stir the butter before adding to make sure it hasn’t separated) slowly incorporating all the flour. Still use the wooden spoon. Dump it into the greased baking dish, and flatten it out evenly with the palm of your hand. That is the way it was shown to me and you can probably understand why I continue to do it this way…
Bake for 25-35 minutes. Yeah. How do I explain this to you? It is done when it poofs up in the center in a huge bubble, and is just settling after the bubble phase. I know. Or, you can bake it for the full 35 minutes and it will be nice and done and crunchy. We like ours soft and just a little more done than chewy.
3 cups Flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar packed. I use light brown, Alice uses dark brown, it changes the flavor.
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup cold water
2 cubes of butter (1 Cup) melted
Oven at 350 for 25-35 minutes.
Mix all dry ingredients together
Mix the egg on TOP of the flour mixture with a wooden spoon in a small area of the bowl. Mix the water with the egg, mix the melted butter with the water and egg, then mix it all together. Press into greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 25-35 min at 350.
It freezes very well. I make it about once a week, and freeze part of it.
See? It looks so easy, what could go wrong? Good luck.