If you know what I’m talking about, fistbumps / secret Dutch handshake (which I imagine would be a regular handshake but taller and with blue eyes.) (I’m 5’6” – 6’5” was a typo lol -with peasoup greenish/hazel eyes, for the record.) You probably don’t need this recipe. In fact, you’re probably still off baking right now after your New Years overindulgence on Olliebollen.
Otherwise, if you aren’t Dutch, you probably have no idea what Anise Koek is, or even refers to. You might be familiar with anise, it’s a spice/seed with a liquorice flavour. Its flavour is sweet on it’s own, and if you enjoy black jellybeans then you’re a fan. Alcohol-wise, it’s used in Jagermeister and Sambuca, and herbally it can be used to treat menstrual cramping.
Now “koek” (pronounced kook) is quite simply ‘cake’ in Dutch. The koeks of my childhood have all been heavy moist loaves, well buttered and often served on Sundays in between church services, or if you were lucky you had a slice buttered and cut in half, buttered sides together, in your lunch box. I went to a private school where about 90% of the students were dutch and if you brought a bag of dropjes (salty Dutch liquorice) to school you were instantly popular and/or mobbed.
Anise koek is a moist, heavy, chewy loaf. Warm it is served with or without butter, cool it is generally cut into slices, buttered, and often will be served with those slices cut in half again. It is sweet but not cloyingly so, and accompanies a good strong cup of coffee quite well. When it comes out of the oven the crust is crispy and the rest is soft, and then when it has been left covered overnight the crust will soften up, becoming slightly sticky and quite chewy, and unlike regular breads I have many childhood memories of koek crusts being fought over.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today comes from a church community cookbook, adapted a bit, and makes two loaves. You can eat one hot and one cold, you can freeze one for later, or you can give one to a friend. I suppose you could always cut the recipe in half, but what’s the fun in that? Lately I’ve been lining my loaf pans in parchment paper, which makes for easy removal, makes it hard to burn, and also means I don’t have to replace my crummy loaf pans.
6 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp anise seed (found in the spice section) or ground anise (never used it)
1 cup syrup (originally likely corn syrup, I use a pure maple syrup, but really any syrup will do)
2 cups strong coffee
(optional: 1 cup raisins, depending on whether you think raisins in baking are a treat or a false promise of chocolate)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the coffee and syrup and mix again. I will often stir my anise seed into the coffee while it is cooling. I also like to let it sit for a while, covered, to let the anise soak in to the dough, and then give it another quick mix. Pour equally in to two prepared loaf pans (either greased or lined with parchment paper.)
The recipes I’ve looked at all call for baking at 350 for an hour, but I actually like to bake at 350 for about half an hour, and then turn it down to 300 and finish the baking, keeping an eye out for doneness rather than counting on the timer. The finished loaf is dark and has a firm top, and an inserted knife comes out clean. If you make other loaf cakes, like banana loaves, then you should have a basic idea of what they need in your own oven. Baking times can vary by oven a bit, but if you’re not comfortable with playing around feel free to just leave the oven at 350 for exactly one hour.
My carb-loving middle child loves this, my picky-pie eldest won’t even eat it without raisins, and my youngest eats all the things. Obviously my husband and I are both fans.