Inspired by traditional Dutch boterkoek, or ‘butter cake’, this quick, easy recipe is the perfect combination of shortbread and cake. Thick, crumbly and deliciously buttery, it’s the ultimate quick fix for those with a sweet tooth and once baked, can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week or frozen for future enjoyment.
A simple recipe means this is great for baking with the kids as they can get stuck into the process without getting bored or having to wait too long to try the finished product. Plus, it’s really hard to over-bake. If you remove it a few minutes early it’ll be cakey and chewy, while a longer bake creates a crunchier, biscuit texture.
Best of all, basic butter cake calls for just three ingredients and it can easily be customised and adapted for special occasions or events. This autumnal pumpkin spice version has a hint of warming spices and is topped with thick maple syrup icing.
Preparation: 10 minutes / Cooking time: 30 minutes
Makes: 12 squares
260g plain flour (2 cups)
150g caster sugar (⅔ cup)
225g salted butter, melted (2 sticks)
1 tsp pumpkin spice seasoning
200g icing sugar (1 ½ cups)
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp water
Orange food colouring
1. Preheat a fan oven to 180C and line an 8-inch baking pan with foil or baking parchment. There’s no need to grease it as the butter in the cake provides enough moisture to ensure a non-stick surface.
2. Mix the flour, sugar, melted butter and pumpkin spice seasoning together in a large mixing bowl, until combined.
3. Press the mixture into the baking pan, smoothing it out evenly.
4. Bake at 180C for approximately 30 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
5. In a small bowl, mix the icing sugar, maple syrup and water until smooth. If needed, add more water or icing sugar until the consistency is to your taste - it will thicken slightly upon standing.
6. Place ⅓ of the icing mixture into a separate bowl and add three drops of orange food colouring (or until suitably ‘orange’).
7. When the cake has cooled, spread the maple syrup icing across the top.
8. Pipe stripes of orange icing horizontally across the cake and then drag a toothpick in vertical lines, alternating between upward and downward strokes to create a feathered effect. Do this immediately after pouring the icing, before it sets.
9. Cut into squares and enjoy.
If you’re doubling up the mixture or using a large baking tray, cover the top with foil when the cake starts to brown and cook for a further 10 minutes. This will allow the middle to cook properly, without burning the edges.