Dutch Butter Cake (Boterkoek)
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Butter cake (Boterkoek) is a traditional Dutch flat cake that contains mostly butter (hence the name…) and flour. The cake is usually made in a special, round, butter cake pan, however, you can also use a spring form or a brownie pan. The cake is made with a dough rather than a batter so I guess you could also call it a pie.
Butter cake is moist with a crispy edge. My favorite part of the butter cake are the crispy edges. A butter cake can only be called butter cake if real butter is involved. This recipe contains a lot of butter so when indulging in this delicious treat, make sure to only take a small piece at a time.
Where’s the almond flavor?
I recently made an interesting discovery. In the Facebook group ‘Dutch Recipes in English‘ I’ve met many people with Dutch heritage and most, if not all of those that I’ve seen in the group mention almond extract as a flavoring their mom used for butter cake. I did a quick search for this recipe on other English sites and see that almond extract is used there as well. I though it was interesting cause in my recipe as well as all the Dutch recipes I’ve researched, including one of one of the old school pastry master of the Netherlands, there’s either no flavoring at all or just some vanilla sugar and/or lemon zest. The butter cake is sometimes decorated with sliced almond though. I’m curious to find out now how this subtle difference in one ingredient occurred. That said, I think a little bit of almond extract would work perfectly in this recipe as well. That’s why I’ve added it as a suggestion in the recipe. A special thanks to the members of the group for bringing this to my attention. It’s made my recipe even more complete!
How To Make Dutch Butter Cake (Boterkoek)
The make the Dutch butter cake (boterkoek), you’ll need butter, flour, sugar, salt, vanilla sugar, lemon zest and just one egg (that second egg shouldn’t have been in the photo…). The full list of ingredients, including quantities, can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Add sugar, vanilla sugar, salt, lemon zest and butter to a bowl and use a dough hook to mix the sugar with the butter. Mix until the sugar is just incorporated.
You can actually make this by hand as well. A mixer isn’t necessarily needed, I’ve made this recipe by hand many times.
When the sugar and butter are incorporated (make sure not to over mix it), lightly whisk the egg and add about 2/3 of the egg to the butter.
And add all of the flour.
Mix until a dough starts to form.
Once the dough is formed, take it out of the bowl and if needed, lightly knead it on a floured work surface. The dough will be very soft, so don’t knead too much, usually 30 seconds to form the dough and check if everything is incorporated is enough.
Take the dough and wrap it in clingfilm. Flatten the dough to help it cool faster. Leave the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
I used my mom’s old, special butter cake pan to make the cake. As you can see it has a handy little slider in it to help loosen the cake from the bottom once it’s done. If you don’t have a butter cake pan, you can use a spring form or brownie pan to make the cake in. Just make sure to grease and line the pan with baking paper before putting the dough in.
I have found similar pans called ‘easy release cake pans‘ on Amazon.
Press the dough into your cake pan.
If needed use a piece of baking paper to smooth out the dough more easily.
Take a fork and run the back of the fork on the dough to create a pattern.
Use the remaining egg to brush the top of the butter cake. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, till golden.
The cake will have a lovely golden crust.
Cut the Dutch butter cake (boterkoek) into small triangle pieces or little cubes and serve. A little piece will go a long way with this cake.
|Prep Time||10 minutes|
|Cook Time||25 minutes|
|Passive Time||30 minutes|
- 1 cup butter 250 grams
- 1 cup sugar 250 grams - preferably caster sugar (a fine sugar)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 250 grams
- Add sugar, vanilla sugar, salt, lemon zest and butter to a bowl and use a dough hook to mix the sugar with the butter. Till the sugar is just incorporated.
- When the sugar and butter are incorporated (make sure not to over mix it), lightly whisk the egg and add about 2/3 of the egg to the butter and add all of the flour. Mix until a dough starts to form.
- Once the dough is formed, take it out of the bowl and if needed, lightly knead it on a floured work surface. The dough will be very soft, so don't knead too much, usually 30 seconds to form the dough and check if everything is incorporated is enough.
- Take the dough and wrap it in clingfilm. Flatten the dough to help it cool faster. Leave the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Grease a butter cake pan. If you don't have a butter cake pan, grease and line a brownie pan or spring form with baking paper.
- Press the dough into your cake pan. If needed put a piece of baking paper on top of the dough to smooth out the dough more easily.
- Take a fork and run the back of the fork on the dough to create a pattern. Use the remaining egg to brush the top of the butter cake.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, till golden.
- Leave to cool completely. To serve, cut small triangle pieces or little cubes.
Please note that the cup measurements in this recipe are approximate. I have added cups for those that prefer using cups. The recipe is most accurate using weights measurements.
- Caster sugar is a fine sugar (it's not powdered/icing sugar), if you don't have a fine sugar available, you can use granulated sugar
- If you don't have vanilla sugar, you can substitute it with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- You can make vanilla sugar easily yourself by following the vanilla sugar recipe on the site.
- You can garnish the butter cake with sliced almonds. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top of the butter cake before baking.
- If you would like the butter cake with a stronger almond flavor you substitute the vanilla and lemon with 1 teaspoon of almond extract.
- You can make this recipe by hand as well. A mixer isn't necessarily needed, I've made this recipe by hand many times.
- Due to the vast amount of butter that's in the cake, when the cake comes out of the oven it'll be soft initially. Once the cake cools down it should firm up due to the butter cooling down again.
I have a recipe for Boterkoek that was given to me from an elderly dutch lady. Whenever I make it, there is usually nothing left over. The recipe I have uses Almond Extract, unsalted butter, sugar, 1 egg, flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. It is so delicious and many have asked me to share this recipe with them. Yours sounds delicous also.
Love your recipe, it’s the same ratio as our family recipe, one trick my mother had, was to also flatten the boterkoek with the back of a spoon as soon as at comes out of the oven, that way it is more dense.
I’m happy to hear you enjoy the recipe. I like your mom’s tip as well, I’ll have to try it!
Thank you thank you thank you! I tried this recipe at the weekend (I am not a cake-baker!) and it turned out as delicious as I remember boterkoek to have been in my visits to the Netherlands years ago. I wish I’d found this recipe a long time ago!
My only struggle was flattening the dough into the tin after I removed it from the fridge; it was very stiff. Next time I will put it in the tin and then chill it; would that work?
Good to hear you loved the recipe 🙂 And you can certainly put the dough in the tin and chill afterwards. I’ve done that as well.
I found your site today while looking up Lapis Legit, but made your Boterkoek instead. It came out perfectly, so thank you Rachel.
Reading the comments, IMHO Karin Garvey accidentally used self raising flour instead – hence the expansion. It’s not warm here in NZ today so I only chilled my dough for 10+ mins, covered in a steel mixing bowl.
Looking forward to making more recipes, minus the weight gain (with great will power).
I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the Boterkoek and the recipe worked for you 🙂
My understanding adding the almond ( extract or paste ) was a traditional Jewish boter koek
I’ve made boterkoek my who life, with many different variations. I find the best way to do it: natural almond extract, not synthetic. spoon and flatten the flour, then sift it. I use almond extract. AND DONT US A MIXER! I cannot emphasize this enough. You need a pastry cutter. You can not get the right consistency with a mixer.
I’ve made boterkoek many times as well and usually make it by hand, but you can use a mixer, but ONLY if you use the dough hook. any other attachment won’t work and will overwork the dough. That said, making by hand is usually my preferred method but I wanted to show that using a mixer is a possibility as well.
Can any artificial sugars be used in this cake or any Dutch recipes.
I’ve never made it with artificial sugars. Sugar is a big component of this cake so I don’t think it can be substituted in this case.
As for other Dutch recipes, it really depends on the recipe.
Since 1967 I have lived in Canada, but I was born in Amsterdam (I still consider myself a Mokummer once in a while.)
I’m 78 now and have maybe baked 2 things in my whole life.
I found your website by accident and saw the recipe for a “Boterkoek”. That brought back lots of memories, so I’m going to try to make it.
It sounds like a perfect recipe. Wish me luck! (massel)
Good luck from a fellow Mokummer! (not born there, just outside, but living there for years) 🙂
I did not like this recipe. I have made boterkoek many times in the past and it has never turned out as badly as this one. I followed instructions exactly and did add a little bit of almond extract as well as decorating with some blanched almonds. I found that chilling the dough made it too hard to shape into the cake plate and subsequently had to re-knead it a little bit. It then took much longer to bake then recipe instructed – had to leave it in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. I did use a 9” pan as recommended and baked 350 degrees.
I’m sorry to hear the recipe didn’t work out for you. I’ve had several readers make this recipe successfully. I use the same method as the Dutch master pastry chef Cees Holtkamp. If the dough came out too hard to shape I suggest you leave it to chill shorter.
Mine is in the oven now but bits are falling overboard and out into my oven as it bakes. I wonder why?
I’ve never had that happen to me before. It’s hard to tell what happened without seeing it myself.
I lived in Amsterdam for 12 years. Always loved boterkoek with koffie verkeerd. I’ve got all my ingredients ready to have a go at your recipe but discovered I ran out of plain four. Can I use self-raising instead? Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Self-raising flour has a rising agent in it and boterkoek is a dense cake and shouldn’t rise, it’ll become too airy and “normal” cake like. You’ll have to use plain flour.
I make this by hand and use a springform pan. Make it with lemon zest.
The comments about almond probably stem from what is known as ‘gevulde koek’ (filled cookie). I make those with same dough without lemon zest. Rolling the dough in a thin layer, making an almond paste filling, bottom layer of dough, layer of filling, layer of dough, then using a fork to press the layers together at the edge, decorating with a sliced almond in the center and brushing it with egg.
Probably, but I find Gevulde Koek something different than boterkoek. I do know a version of boterkoek that’s filled with almond paste as well as boterkoek with candied ginger. But the classic boterkoek doesn’t have any almond paste in it originally. Either way, I just like to eat it all, boterkoek, gevulde koek, etc 😀
Don’t you need to use baking powder?
No, this is a dense cake, no leavening is needed for this.
Hi Rachel! I like your page and have used it several times for either making a recipe you posted or to get some ideas. Today, I want to make this Boterkoek, but I have several concerns regarding the weight/cup measurements you posted.
For the castor sugar (powdered sugar, icing sugar) you say 250 grams = 1 cup. Not according to my food scale, which I have properly calibrated. 250 grams is about 1 1/3 cup, maybe even a cup and a half.
For the flour you say 250 grams = 2 cups. It isn’t. It’s about 1 and a half cups.
I’m going to use equal amounts and go according to the gram counts you provided.
Just wanted you to know.
Thanks for reaching out, I’m happy to hear that you’re enjoying my site. When it comes to caster sugar, I mean a fine sugar, not a powdered/icing sugar. That’s perhaps why the weight is off. In the Netherlands you would using a sugar called “basterdsuiker” but that’s not available in most other countries. If you don’t have fine sugar, you can use granulated sugar, I will edit the recipe card to include this information to avoid any confusion in the future.
Also, the metrics will always be more accurate versus the volume. I hope the boterkoek works out for you!
Thanks for clearing that up for me. I used powdered sugar and it came out ok for the first time I made it. Will buy some fine sugar (called superfine sugar in Canada) and use that from here on in.
In Canada castor sugar is “berry sugar”. The next best thing is ordinary granulated sugar. I’ve made Boterkoek for years with granulated sugar, almond, and mixed by hand and it’s worked fine. I’ve never heard of chilling the dough first, though.
I am Orly from Israel and I used to live in Bremen Germany.
So, once a month for a nice Saturday cultural stroll we used to drive to Groningen and walk around for a change of air, Go to the market and of course go to the supermarket to get some good food; usually we also visited the local Albert Heijn from which we bought the butter cake.
I had the taste of the BoterKoek in my mind for years and decided today that I am going to look for the recipe. I too thought it contained almonds and this is because the texture slightly reminds of the marzipan like almond filling of french tarts.
The recipe looks absolutely easy to make and you thought about everything. One question, usually I put more than a pinch of salt- will it make a big difference?
Another question is about Stroopwaffles; that too is a local treat, where can you get the waffle to make small waffles.
You can add a little more salt if that’s too your liking.
As or where to get the waffle iron, that depends on where you live and which one you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an old iron you’ll have to look in thrift stores. I use a Pizelle maker, you would have to look online or in stores near your area to see where you can buy one.
The difference in yes or no almond extract or almond paste could have something to do with the region the boterkoek is from. Even though our country is very small, you will find many differences between regions when looking at food.
That could be, I haven’t met anyone in the Netherlands yet regarding the almond flavoring though. I do know that there can be boterkoek filled with almond paste or ginger or decorated with almond slices, but never just with almond flavoring, I’ve only come across people with Dutch heritage living abroad that mention that. But who knows maybe I’ll meet someone in the Netherlands one day that does the same :). Either way, I think it makes a nice addition to the boterkoek. I always like it when people add their own twist to recipes 😀
I have made this many times but it is more like a dry cake and not moist. I have not been leaving the dough in the fridge before baking so could that be the problem?
Could be, the cooler dough will take longer to heat up. Every oven is different, perhaps you could try to leave the cake in the oven a little shorter. The cake can be slightly underdone.
I made this and baked it for 25 minutes. It was not firm at all, so I baked it another 10 minutes. I took it out of the oven but it is still very soft. I will have to see if it firms up. What do you think I did wrong?
Hi Cindy, due to the vast amount of butter that’s in the cake, when the cake comes out of the oven it’ll be soft initially. Once the cake cools down it should firm up due to the butter cooling down again. I’ll add this as an extra note to the recipe.
Just confirming: the recipe uses unsalted butter?
Yes, I always use unsalted butter
What is the size of the baking pan?
Hi Tina, you’ll need a 9 inch (24 cm) baking pan.
I used to make this as a kid and the first steps before adding the flour were done on the stove on low heat and you have to wisk the egg in really fast and then quickly add the flour before the egg cooks. No mixer needed….
You can indeed make this recipe without a mixer easily as well. I’ve made it by hand many times and I’ve used a mixer. I’ve never made it on the stove though, that sounds interesting, I might try it as well 😀
Hello – do you think this recipe would work if you rolled it out thinner and cut cookie shapes into it? Not traditionally boterkoek, I know, but I’m wondering if it would work as a shortbread alternative for Christmas. Thanks 🙂
Hi Shelley, I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it could work.
I’ve a gas cooker googled the equivalent of 350degrees to gas mark 4 but took almost an hour to cook at this temperature? just waiting for it to cool to see how it tastes while I’m making croquette!! Yum yum
I have made botterkoek many times and the only way I knew how to make it is exactly as you said 250 grams each the flour, sugar and butter and because the gram weight of each one is different in size is why it works so well. My Mom used to add almond spice in the middle and we loved it so much. My daughter and I were just talking about it today. Time to make one.
I’m glad to hear the recipe brought back some nice memories 🙂
Is a dough hook necessary? I don’t have one.
You don’t need to use a dough hook at all if you don’t have one. I have often made this cake by hand, not using any machine at all 🙂
“The recipe is most accurate using weights measurements.” So why don’t you publish the weight of flour?
The weight measurements (250 grams flour) are listed in the ingredients list in the recipe card.
I don’t know why it wasn’t visible before, but it is visible now 🙂
Thanks for letting me know you couldn’t see the measurements.
I add an almond paste center filling. Put a layer of dough, then layer of almond paste mixed with an egg and some sugar, and add top layer of dough.
A filled boterkoek is delicious as well!
rachel, i am from amsterdam, the cradle of the -originally jewish – boterkoek. your recipe is spot-on and you are very right in your assumption that no almond flavour should be added. there are 3 varieties of boterkoek: the plain one, like you describe, the ‘filled’ one that has a filling of almond paste and the ginger one, that has slices of confectioned ginger in and on it.
i moved to france and i will also start making my own..
Thanks for the compliment, I’m from Amsterdam myself as well. I actually forgot about the ginger version, thanks for reminding me, another recipe for me to create! 😀
I just made it, it’s deadly good !
I’m glad you like it 🙂
Do you need to use UNSALTED BUTTER? My mother made boterkoek in Holland and in Canada without the Canadian salted butter.
Yes, I always use unsalted butter, just like your mom, unless stated otherwise.
Hi. I never use almond extract in my boterkoek, but people here (in London) tend to think that boterkoek tastes of almonds. No idea why.
My mum taught me to use a spoon to flatten the boterkoek. Wet the back of a spoon with a bit of cold water and then run over the top of the batter to flatten and straighten it (you may need to wet the spoon more than once).
Finally, while you say that the recipe mostly contains butter, you put twice as much flour in as butter. I always use a recipe that uses equal parts of butter, sugar (not including the vanillesuiker) and flour.
Thanks for the tip of wetting the spoon to flatten the boterkoek 🙂
Ariadne, when you say equal measures do you mean by cup measurement or by weight measurement?
Thank you. 🙂
I AM FROM SITTARD LIMBURG LOVE ALL THE RECIPES
I’m happy to hear you love the recipes 😀
My Oma on Dad’s side made boterkoek with out almond flavoring. My mom and her mom made their boterkoek with almond paste or extract. It is a regional preferance. After my parents met and married in Canada, my mom discovered almond extract. When they moved to the U.S. several years later mom found dutch people from all the Netherlands provences in our neighborhood. Each region had their own variation on major dutch recipes. The neighbors all raved about mom’s boterkoek and banket(sp?). After mom passed Dad said he had a desire for boterkoek so i dug out mom recipe and found out that she added both vanilla and almond extract to he recipe. You should have seen dad’s and my sibling’s faces as they bit into the boterkoek. So i think that there is no wrong recipe for botetkoek.
In my opinion there’s never a wrong recipe for anything as long as it’s made with love 🙂
But there’ll always be some recipes more known than others. And in my personal experience, in every family there’s a different recipe for just about anything 😀
I am from Brunssum, Limburg, went to school in Sittard, Sociale Akademie en this is my first boterkoek. Wish me luck.
Good luck, I hope it came out delicious 🙂
i add the almond extract and substitute almond flour (ground almonds) for one of the regular flours. Very almondy flavour
Your version sounds delicious as well.
Have made this in fact my grandson had made and brought me 1 and told me how easy it was.
So nice to hear that you and your grandson enjoyed the recipe 🙂 hopefully I can create some more recipes for you to enjoy.