Traditional Dutch breakfast and brunch meals are pretty low-key in the Netherlands, with plenty of bread, dairy and fruit, and breakfast favorites 'ontbijtkoek' and 'beschuit' (rusk-like rounds). On Dutch holidays, more luxury items such as smoked fish platters and fruited breads are the stars of the show. Of course, any overview of Dutch breakfast and brunch recipes has to include a good recipe for whole wheat bread, an essential. And while pancakes and poffertjes are more... often found on Dutch lunch and dinner tables, we've added them here, too. Our favorites (in no particular order) include:
01 of 10
This is the ultimate whole wheat bread recipe. It's pure, honest and wholesome - with no additives, bread improvers or sugars added - just freshly milled whole wheat flour, water, yeast, salt and a touch of olive oil. It will always amaze me how a handful of humble ingredients can combine to create something so sublime as bread. I learned how to bake whole wheat bread at a specialist artisanal whole wheat bakery in Amsterdam, called Hartog's. This is their recipe. It makes a dense,... hearty loaf, which goes a long way because it is so filling. Typical Dutch bread toppings include cheese, (salty) Dutch peanut butter, appelstroop, cold meats, jam, honey, hazelnut-chocolate spread and hagelslag (sweet chocolate, aniseed or fruit sprinkles).
02 of 10
The thing about baking your own bread is that it stales quicker than the supermarket stuff. After all, preservation is what a lot of those additives are for. Luckily, the Dutch answer to French toast, cinnamon-dusted wentelteefjes, was designed to use up old bread. You can use any type of bread, from whole wheat to white or indulge and use Frisian sugar bread, duivenkater (a soft, sweet bread similar to brioche) or even leftover fruited breads, such as or kerststol.
03 of 10
While popular at Dutch Christmas and Easter, fruited breads with their squidgy marzipan-like centers are now eaten throughout the year in the Netherlands. My chocolate version is a great choice for a weekend brunch. Serve in slices with the very best grass-fed butter you can find and dust with powdered sugar. It really needs nothing more.
04 of 10Another variation on the traditional Dutch broodmaaltijd (bread meal) is the uitsmijter; slices of bread topped with fried eggs, ham and cheese. Because uitsmijter is the Dutch word for bouncer, it is said that the dish was once served to bar-goers at closing-time, before kindly showing them the door. Of course, these days you'd be hard-pressed to find a bar willing to feed you after 10pm, so you might have to fix this for yourself at home.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
While the boerenomelet (literally 'farmer's omelet': a mixed vegetable omelette) is more common, I prefer this omelet with turnip greens, goat's cheese and chilli. Turnip greens (also known as turnip tops) are called raapstelen or keeltjes in Dutch and are one of those forgotten vegetables that are coming back into vogue due to their excellent nutritional profile and delicious taste, which could be described as a cross between spinach and arugula. These iron-rich leafy green veg... are also full of vitamins and fiber.
06 of 10
Traditional strained yogurt (called hangop in Dutch: see my step-by-step guide to making hangop at home) is a healthy breakfast alternative with fresh or stewed fruits and berries. In the summer, lovely tart raspberries (try my raspberry hangop recipe) provide a perfect foil for the rich, creamy yogurt, while stewed quinces or spiced apples offer aromatic warmth in the cooler months. Finish off with some crunchy muesli for added fiber and texture. Wholesome and deliciously Dutch, this is one of... my favorite breakfasts.
07 of 10
These are the most famous Dutch pancakes; plate-sized and hearty, and very, very popular due to the yummy combination of sweet, tart and salty flavors. Dutch pancakes are usually served with a dark syrup called stroop (you can buy it on websites that sell Dutch food items). The Dutch tend to eat savory pancakes such as these for lunch or the evening meal, but they're an excellent hangover cure and therefore great for brunch too.
08 of 10
Poffertjes are another version of Dutch pancake, in miniature. They are cooked in a special poffertjespan, a cast iron pan with little indentations to cook the blini-like Dutch treats. Like blini, poffertjes are made with buckwheat flour, which lend a nice tang and a bit of extra nutrition (including vitamin B complex, amino acids, fiber, flavonoids and various minerals) to these indulgent bites. Unlike blini, they are usually served with sweet toppings in the Netherlands. In the classic... poffertjes recipe, they are served with butter and powdered sugar, but you could also indulge in poffertjes with strawberries and whipped cream or poffertjes with a delicious date sauce. Skewer on satay sticks to create a popular Dutch kids' party snack.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Okay, okay, muffins aren't traditionally Dutch, but these quickbreads are so easy to make and the addition of mature Gouda and cumin seeds - a play on komijnekaas (Dutch cumin cheese), of course - so typically Dutch, I couldn't resist. You can use any aged Gouda (simply called oude kaas in Dutch, it will have a hard, crumbly texture), or use Parmesan.
10 of 10
I feel I have to include a drink in this list of Dutch breakfast and brunch items, but Hollanders typically consume simple beverages like coffee, milk and freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning. Smoothies have become very popular in the Netherlands in recent years, and this one, with oranges, plums, mango and banana, is not only delicious but also cheeringly orange, the national color. It's a tasty addition to any breakfast table.