Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

banketbakkerij a Dutch baker’s shop specializing in pastries, cakes, and Dutch koekjes (see cookie). In some shops it is possible to drink a cup of coffee and enjoy a cake on the premises.

It is traditional in Holland for a person having a birthday to buy cakes for his friends or colleagues, and these cakes would normally be obtained from the banketbakkerij.
Varieties made and sold at the banketbakkerij include the following. They are seldom made at home.

Speculaas (speculoos in Belgium and Spekulatius in Germany), Christmas biscuits (traditionally baked for St Nicholas’s Eve on 5 December) made of wheat flour, butter, sugar, and a mixture of spices in which cinnamon is predominant. The dough is baked in decorative moulds. The biscuits are crisp and flattish and may have cut almonds pressed into the underside. For special occasions, a very large speculaas may be made in a special mould. The Abraham, as Ileen Montijn (1991) explains, is baked for a man’s 50th birthday:

a large, flat, edible doll, once made of bread dough, nowadays more cake-like and elaborately decorated, or even mistakenly taken to be a kind of gingerbread man …. The basis for this is in the Bible, John, 9: 57: ‘Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?’ The giving of Abraham dolls to people on their fiftieth birthday (and Sarah dolls to women, as a kind of consolation prize) has … become more rather than less popular.