groninger koek (Dutch rye gingerbread)

groninger koek (Dutch rye gingerbread). I’ve already told you a bit on how this spiced breakfast bread (ontbijtkoek) from the Netherlands, never fails to remind me of Christmas (or trips to the motherland, where I used to generously top it with hagelslag– chocolate sprinkles).

Originally from the northern province of Groningen, its taste is distinct to its American counterpart due to the usage of rye flour (which provides a rich fruity flavour that goes wonderfully with the dominant ginger).

This is actually a bread with a lot of history in the north and which has since expanded throughout the Netherlands (and even Belgium), to become a food staple in the region. The pity? That much of the tradition has been lost (along with the original recipes), and the product is consumed largely from the commercial brand Peijnenburg nowadays (which is nonetheless pretty yummy).

So in lack of a recipe source (when scouring the internet most do not contain even a trace of rye flour)(said to be the distinct ingredient even by Peijnenburg), I went on to recreate my own. And so, with the taste of homemade groninger koek from my childhood at my grandparent’s house in mind (and some trial and error), I managed to hit the flavour this week. Happy times.

Rye flour, a touch of wholewheat flour (which makes it hold together better), a distinct spice mix (with ginger dominating), cane sugar (I use raw evaporated cane juice), (one) egg, a touch of molasses, and water. That’s it.

No fat, no dairy products. But what a flavour (particularly if done the night before).

But do note that while it is fat free, it is generally enjoyed with a good spread of butter (and a good cup of tea or coffee).



200 g (1 1/2 cup + 1 TBS) rye flour
50 g (1/3 cup) wholewheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 g (1 1/3 cup + 2 TBS) evaporated cane juice (or cane sugar)
1 TBS ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
pinch of fine sea salt
1 egg
30 mL (2 TBS) dark molasses
237 mL (1 cup) of water
40 g (1.4 oz) candied ginger (optional)

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Butter and flour an 22 x 12 cm (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch) pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the rye flour, wholewheat flour, baking powder, cane juice, spices and salt.

In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the egg, add the water and the molasses and incorporate fully.

Make a well in the middle of the spiced flour and add the egg and molasses mixture into the centre. Gently mix until just combined and incorporate the candied ginger (optional). Transfer into the greased loaf tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from bread pan after 10 minutes and allow to cool completely on a rack. Do note that this bread is best made the day before- wrap in a towel and aluminum foil to allow the spices and flavour to fully develop.

makes 1 loaf

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  1. Miranda Hoeksema says:

    So I’m Dutch as well and have been trying to find a gluten free version as I have a sister in law and cousin who can’t have anything with gluten in it(Crohn’s Disease and Celeaic Disease)

    • Paola says:

      Hi Miranda,

      I know this is a couple of years late, but I was actually also diagnosed with Celiac disease. I missed this bread SO much, that I spent a while adjusting the recipe (and finally got it!). The fellow Dutch people I gave it to actually didn’t know it wasn’t made with rye 😉

      I will be posting it soon enough!


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