I recently discovered the Breuder or Dutch Bread (also called Dutch Cake by some), which seems to be baked only in Kochi, Kerala in India. My very good friend Finla discovered it on Instagram and baked a version of it. I did a little research on the net and discovered that the Breuder is also baked in some other former Dutch colonies. So you can find versions of Breuder in Sri Lanka, Malacca and Indonesia. Breuder or Dutch Bread is much like a yeasted cake similar to the Alsatian Kugelhopf and Milanese Pannetone. It came to Kerala with the Dutch who arrived in the 17th century. They took control over Kochi from the Portuguese and Breuder is a part of the Indo-Dutch or Dutch Anglo Indian cuisine.
Breuder in Kochi is a mildly sweet raisin studded loaf style bread flavoured with spices like cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. It is leavened with toddy or yeast depending on the family recipe. Some recipes use ghee instead of butter. Dutch Burgher families of Sri Lanka make Breuder like a yeasted bundt cake and serve it with buttered with a sprinkling of sugar or Edam cheese.
The Dutch East India Company took the Breuder to Malacca. The Dutch Eurasians there call it Kue Blueda, Kue Bludder or Breuder Cake and it is leavened with toddy instead of yeast. The Indonesians make Roti Blueda which are smaller individually baked cakes, much like cupcakes or rolls. Breuder is generally baked for Christmas. When Breudher is baked in a bundt pan, it is made from a cake like batter. However the Breudher made in Kochi is made like a bread loaf so it is made from an enriched dough.
It is interesting that I haven’t come across narratives of Breuder being made anywhere except in and around the Mattanchery and Fort Kochi areas of Kochi. As mentioned earlier, Breudher is predominantly consumed in the Dutch Anglo Indian community in Kochi. It used be served only at christening ceremonies and later as a breakfast after the seventh day remembrance after a funeral. It is made into sandwiches and served with ripe green bananas, puffs, cookies and coffee. Breuder is a must on Christmas mornings at breakfast.
Oddly enough, the Dutch themselves don’t make anything like Breudher. They have Ontbijtkoek which is more a spiced quick bread or cake eaten for breakfast. There has been some discussion on the origin of the word Breudher. It is thought it perhaps comes from “brood-tulband” meaning bread turban. The Dutch refer to bread and cakes baked in turban shaped bundt pans as Tulband. Another school of thought suggests Bruedher comes from Broed, the Dutch word for bread.
Very few Dutch Anglo Indians remain in Kochi today, and a lot of their food traditions have also disappeared. Even in the olden days, most Dutch Anglo Indians would get their Breudher from the local bakeries that made them. Today, Breuder is baked by just a couple of local bakeries there and on particular days or on order. The Quality Bakery at Fort Kochi apparently adds candied orange peel a sweet and zesty bread. The bakery at Elite Hotel, also at Fort Kochi, add a powdered spice blend spices for a more savoury flavour.
I found various traditional recipes for an Indian style Breuder or Dutch Bread online but they didn’t make much sense from a baking pointing of view. Since the Breuder is really a yeasted cake with spices and raisins, I cobbled together a recipe for it. While it is no means authentic, I hope it comes close to the real thing. When the present pandemic situation eases and I get the opportunity, I shall make a trip to the local bakeries to sample the Breuder for myself. This less authentic recipe shall have to suffice till then.
Breuder or Dutch Bread
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp powdered cloves
- 50 gm butter soft at room temperature
- 1/2 cup raisins/ sultanas
- Melted butter for brushing the baked loaf
- First proof the yeast. Mix the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar with the warm milk and keep aside for about 5 to 10 minutes. It should be frothy.
- Put this and all the other ingredients, except the raisins/ sultanas and melted butter into the bowl of a processor or kitchen machine. Knead, with enough water, into a soft smooth elastic dough. You can knead by hand as well. Transfer the dough to well-oiled bowl and cover loosely. Let it rise till double in volume, about 1 ½ to 2 hours or so.
- Put the dough onto a floured counter. Flatten the dough and mix in the raisins/ sultanas. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a greased approx. 8” x 4.5” loaf tin. Loosely cover and let it rise for about 45 minutes or till the top of the dough has just risen over the top.
- Bake it at 190C (375F) for about 25 to 30 minutes or till the bread is done and the top is a nice deep brown. Remove from the oven and brush the top with melted butter. Let it rest for about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool completely on a rack before slicing.
- Slice and serve plain or toasted with bread and sliced bananas.