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Frequently asked questions

Below you’ll find the answers to the most frequently asked questions.

If you would like to know more, or if you have another question, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us through the contact form or on Facebook,.

Did you know that spice cake is a useful ingredient in a number of dishes? Find out all about this, from the recipes on our website.

Does spice cake contain a lot of sugar?

Spice cake does contain sugar. Sugar is a vital fuel for our bodies and brains and is absorbed relatively quickly by the body. That means that it’s best to eat spice cake when you will use this fuel. That could be at breakfast, as a snack in the morning or afternoon or when you are exercising and so on.

Fast sugars give you instant energy whereas slow sugars release energy over a longer time, so you access it more gradually.

What are the ingredients of spice cake?

The basic ingredients of our Belgian spice cake are rye flour, honey and/or another sugar syrup, spice cake (or cake trimmings) and spices. Yes, that’s right, you need spice cake to make spice cake! At Vondelmolen, we make several different varieties by adding chocolate, fruit or caramel for example.

Is there pepper in spice cake, as suggested by the Flemish name “peperkoek”?

These days, it is unusual for spice cake to contain pepper, but there are other spices in it.
In the middle ages, a lot of exotic spices (such as pepper) were very expensive and were attributed all sorts of medicinal properties. Trading 1 or 2 grams of these spices wasn’t practical. Which is why they were put into spice cake. That way you could buy small amounts of spices in easy to handle (and delicious!) pieces.

So the pepper in “peperkoek” refers more generally to the spices in the cake. Even in some Dutch-speaking places, “peperkoek” is also called “kruidkoek” (which translates literally as “spice cake”) and in French it is always called “pain d’épices”.

Is spice cake healthy?

No single foodstuff is healthy in itself. An apple is healthy, unless you eat too many, or if you don’t eat anything else.
It is very important to have a balanced diet, and to avoid eating too much of one food.

Spice cake is a source of fibre, it contains no fat and is a natural product. It also contains a lot of fast and slow-release sugars. That is why it’s best to eat spice cake when your body needs energy. At breakfast, during morning break at school or work, or when you are going to do exercise for example.

Most spice cake has a Nutri-Score of C.

Is spice cake more healthy than other cakes or biscuits?

Yes, a lot of cakes and biscuits contain a lot of (saturated) fats as well as sugar. Fat contains more calories than sugar.

A lot of cakes (even those for children) have a Nutri-Score of D or even E. Spice cake (which usually has a Nutri-Score of C) does contain fast and slow sugars, but hardly any fat.

Furthermore, the fibre in spice cake makes it filling. So, ultimately your hunger is satisfied with relatively few calories per portion.

Is spice cake good for athletes?

Yes, spice cake is a natural energy bar with fast and slow-release sugars and hardly any fat. So you get an instant energy boost, and the spice cake continues to release energy for a while after you have eaten it. Furthermore, spice cake is a delicious and natural product, and it costs a lot less than most energy bars.

Does spice cake aid regular bowel movements?

A lot of people claim that spice cake helps to get things moving. Although spice cake is a source of fibre, which does contribute to good digestion (https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/encyclopedie/vezels.aspx) it has never been proven that spice cake helps to relieve constipation. However, we also know a lot of people who swear by spice cake for this type of ‘trouble’.

Is spice cake vegetarian or vegan?

Spice cake is always vegetarian. There is no meat or fish in it. Some spice cakes do contain honey or milk powder however. So these spice cakes are not vegan.
We are currently looking into the precise requirements that would allow us to declare our products vegan.

Is spice cake gluten-free?

No, our spice cake is made with rye flour. As with most grains, rye also contains gluten.

You will find more information about the allergens in our products on the packaging, or here, on our website.

Does spice cake contain lactose?

Most of our spice cakes do not contain any milk products. A few spice cakes (for example Couque Dinant) contain milk powder, and therefore also lactose. These are made in the same establishment, which means the other spice cakes could also contain traces of lactose.

You will find more information about the allergens in our products on the packaging, or here, on our website.

Is there egg in spice cake?

Egg is never used in Belgian spice cake. This is partly why our spice cake has such a long shelf life. Some French spice cakes are made using egg, however. Obviously, this gives it a very different taste and texture.

Can you get sugar-free spice cake?

No. Sugar is an important ingredient of original spice cake. Sugar not only gives it its sweet flavour, it also gives the spice cake volume and has an effect on the other ingredients. So it isn’t easy to create the same product, without sugar. There are spice cakes on the market that contain less sugar.

What allergens are in spice cake?

In general, you will find gluten in our spice cake, from rye flour.

Nuts and milk are also used in some of our spice cakes. So you could also find traces of these, as well as lupin, in all of our spice cakes. More information on specific products can be found on the packaging.

Or take a look at our product page.

Is Vondelmolen Belgian?

We sure are! Vondelmolen was founded in 1867, in Lebbeke, East Flanders. Where we are still situated. So we are a thoroughly Belgian company. You can find out more information on Vondelmolen’s fascinating history on the history page.

I can't find my favourite spice cake in the shops anymore. Where can I get it?

The shop chains decide which spice cakes they want to stock. Some shops also offer extra spice cakes. We can’t always see which shops are selling which spice cakes. You can always ask your shop to start stocking the product (again). Some shops are happy to do this for their customers if possible.

How is spice cake made?

Spice cake is made from 3 basic ingredients: rye flour, honey and/or another sugar syrup and… spice cake. Indeed, we trim the sides from the large bars of spice cake after it has been baked and use them as an ingredient in the new batch of spice cake. This is needed to create the familiar taste and structure. Furthermore, it means there is very little food waste.

These cake “trimmings” and the sugar syrup are heated and mixed together, before being mixed in with the rye flour. This “mother dough” is then left to rest for around a week in large vats.

After that, the raising agents and any other ingredients (honey, fruit, nuts, spices etc.) are added. This “final dough” is divided between the baking trays and goes into the oven.
After baking, the spice cake then needs to rest for a day again, before being sliced and packaged.

Can you make spice cake yourself?

Yes, you can find all sorts of recipes on the internet for making your own spice cake. But making real Belgian spice cake isn’t that easy. Often you end up with something that is more like cake with spice-cake spices. That might be delicious of course, but if you want real spice cake, it’s best to buy it from the shops. For the price, why settle for anything less?

Is spice cake safe for pets ?

Yes, most spice cake is absolutely safe for pets.
There are some manufacturers that put xylitol in the spice cake to reduce the amount of sugar. This is a substance that is also often put into chewing gum. This substance is not harmful to humans, but it is very poisonous to dogs for example.

At Vondelmolen, we don’t use this substance. So you can treat your best friend to the occasional bit of spice cake, with a clear conscience.
Although, obviously spice cake should not be a part of your pet’s regular diet.

Do you make spice cake hearts too?

Yes we do. Spice cake hearts are a long-standing tradition that we, at Vondelmolen, want to preserve. During the festive season in particular, you can see our spice cake hearts in several shops.

How long has spice cake been around for?

Spice cake has been around in some form or other since ancient Egyptian times, when they made a cake from grain, spices and honey.
You can find out more about spice cake’s interesting history on our website.

Is there a difference between Belgian and Dutch spice cake?

Yes. Belgian and Dutch spice cake are clearly related to each other, and for the most part, share a common history. However, there are a few clear differences. There is more water in the Dutch version called “ontbijtkoek” (breakfast cake)  and it is much spicier. A bit of wheat is also often added to make it slightly softer.

Belgian spice cake also has a longer shelf life.

How many different types of spice cake are there?

Spice cake exists in several different types, sizes and weights. There are also other places in the world that have their own spice cake traditions. So there are many different types of spice cake. At Vondelmolen, we make Belgian spice cake, and a lot of other variations on that as well. In total, Vondelmolen currently makes more than 300 different versions.