Dutch Butter Cake with Pistachios and Cardamom / Boterkoek met Pistachenootjes en Kardemom

A ‘boterkoek’ is a popular traditional Dutch sweet flat cake that is very dense and creamy in texture and looks pale yellow on the inside with a nice golden crust. Because the cake is so rich and dense – the texture is more like a thick cookie-dough than a cake – this true Dutch delicacy is often served cut into tiny cubes, or wedges (for real gluttons) alongside a nice cup of strong coffee.


I don’t think it’s a secret that we really love our dairy products in the Netherlands. This cake perfectly showcases one of our favorite dairy-products (no, not cheese): butter!
The name literally translates to butter cake and – surprise surprise – it’s made with not much more than lots of full-cream dairy butter (‘roomboter’ in Dutch), sugar, flour, some egg wash and perhaps some slivers of almond on top. A true boterkoek can only be named boterkoek when it’s made with real, full-cream dairy butter (so put away that margarine)!


The boterkoek is usually baked in a 20cm to 24cm special boterkoek tin (see photograph above) with a little slider attached which makes it easier for the dense koek to come out of the tin. Of course, you can use a regular flat, round tin for baking as well, but avoid using a spring cake tin as the large amount of butter may start leaking out of the sides of the tin whilst baking.

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My boterkoek here is a little unconventional since I’ve replaced the almond slivers with some crushed pistachios and added some orange zest and ground cardamom as well. If you want to make a more authentic boterkoek, get rid of the pistachios and replace the orange zest and cardamom for a bit of lemon zest and/or a sachet of vanilla sugar, or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean.


Dutch Butter Cake with Pistachios and Cardamom / Boterkoek met Pistachenootjes en Kardemom

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Dutch butter cake with pistachios and cardamom
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:30 mins
  • Serves:12
  • Freezable:No

Nutrition per portion

  • 250g plain flour
  • 220g butter (‘roomboter’)
  • 180g white caster sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (0.50g), or more to taste
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 25g shelled pistachios
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Grease a 22cm round boterkoek-tin, pie pan, or brownie tin with a bit of butter.
  3. Make the dough: Combine flour, sugar, butter, a pinch of salt, ground cardamom and the zest of 1 orange in a bowl until it forms a dough. Use either a mixer with dough hooks, or your hands. The dough can be slightly sticky, but should form a relatively nice smooth ball in the end.
  4. Add dough to greased tin: Put the dough in the baking tin and flatten, either with the back of a cold spoon, or slightly wet hands.
  5. For the top of the dough: Brush the top of the dough with some of the beaten egg and draw lines from left to right and top to bottom all over the top of dough with a fork*.
  6. Add the pistachios: Pinch the shelled pistachios to get rid of most of the thin skin on the nut. If the skin doesn’t come off easily, leave it on, or quickly blanch the pistachios in some hot water. Roughly chop the shelled and peeled pistachios with a sharp knife or food processor and sprinkle over the cake. Press down lightly to make sure the chopped nuts stick.
  7. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes until the cake is golden brown on top. It may look like the cake is not fully cooked and can even look too soft, but it should firm up when cooling down.
  8. Let the cake totally cool before cutting it into small cubes, or narrow slices.
  *the drawn lines on top of the cake are traditionally done to decorate boterkoek, but, admittedly, the pistachio nuts in this recipe do obscure much of the decoration-lines, so, if you can’t be bothered, this part can be skipped (but do brush on the beaten egg!)

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