An ontbijtkoek (literally translated breakfast cake) or peperkoek (pepper cake) is a Dutch spiced cake. Rye is its most important ingredient, coloring the cake a light brown. It is often spiced with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, succade and nutmeg. Several parts of the Netherlands have their own local recipe, of which the most famous is "Oudewijvenkoek" (old wives' cake) which is mostly eaten in the northern regions, and is flavored with aniseed. Ontbijtkoek is traditionally served at breakfast with a thick layer of butter on top, as a replacement for bread. However, due to its sweet taste it is also served as a snack.
Originally called 'peperkoek' it was made from breadcrumbs and other left over bakery products stored in an attic. These ingredients were periodically collected and pressed to create the 'peperkoek' which was augmented with black pepper to conceal the age of the resulting thick bread, hence its name. Pepper being historically one of the most valuable Dutch East India Company trading products, it was used in many Dutch food products.