Traditional Frisian Sugarbread

I’m proud of my Frisian roots and even though I like a good French baguette or an American pie, few things can top those traditional foods from your childhood. I know – your teeth might as well fall out at the sight of this super sugary bread. But ohmy. A sticky, flaky crust, the brioche-like inside studded with coarse pearl sugar and a cloud of cinnamon and ginger syrup to flavor the dough. Even though we aren’t the only ones baking sugarbread, ask any Dutchman or woman what Frisians eat and 9/10 will answer “suikerbrood” or “sûkerbôle”. There are versions of this bread in other parts of the Netherlands and even in Belgium, but apparently we Frisians like quite a bit of the ol’ sucrose (although you wouldn’t guess it, considering Frisians’ general aversion to buttercream). We use about double the amount of sugar other bakers do – a whole lot. Recently, cooks, ice cream makers and bakers have been trying to give a modern twist to the bread by churning it into ice cream, or using it to make the most AMAZING of bread and butter puddings. 

Small history fact: this bread was traditionally gifted to moms who had given birth to girls! I couldn’t find out why sugarbread was especially suited to girls’ moms exactly, if you know or have a theory, please do share in the comments!

 Recipe Frisian Sugarbread

Tools: pastry brush, bread tin (25cm/10inch)



350   gr bread flour
7       gr instant yeast
1       teaspoon salt
10     gr caster sugar + extra to sprinkle in the tin and sprinkle on top of the bread
20     gr softened butter + extra to grease the tin
2       tablespoons ginger syrup
150    ml milk, at 30C/86F
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt (keep one tablespoon aside for the glaze!)


150    gr coarse pearl sugar (“greinsuiker”) *
1/2    teaspoon cinnamon

* Coarse pearl sugar can be hard to find. If you can’t find it where you live, try smashing up sugar cubes in a tea towel (not too finely!). Alternatively, you could add 2 tablespoons of water to 150 gr caster sugar, spread it onto a baking sheet and leave it to dry overnight.

1. To make the dough, measure out the flour in a large bowl. Add yeast on one side of the bowl, salt and sugar on the other side. Combine with a balloon whisk. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the filling, and combine to form a dough with a wooden spoon. Knead 10 minutes in a stand mixer with dough hook attachment. Alternatively, knead by hand until the dough passes the windowpane test. This will take a bit longer.

2. Transfer dough to a bowl, very lightly greased with sunflower oil. Cover with a damp teacloth or clingfilm and leave to prove for 45 minutes.

3. Grease your tin with plenty of butter and cover the inside of the tin with sugar (like you would flour a tin). 

4.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/390°F. 

5. Once proofed, turn dough out onto a working surface (it doesn’t have to be floured!). Knock it back, then push into a rectangular shape. Scatter the pearl sugar and cinnamon over the rectangle, then roll it up. Knead it a few times, then shape into a rectangle again, long side faced horizontally. Fold the bottom third of the rectangle up (this is a little like folding a letter!), then fold the top third down to cover the other 2 layers. Roll it slightly until it fits your tin. Place dough in tin, seam downward. Cover with oiled clingfilm or place in a plastic bag and leave to prove for 30 minutes. 

6. Glaze the top with the leftover egg and sprinkle plenty of sugar on top. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. The crust and sides can become quite dark, but don’t get worried as this is to be expected with so much sugar involved! Turn out onto wire rack immediately after coming out of the oven, or you’ll have a difficult time getting it out of the tin. Leave to cool. Slice it up and serve with butter for extra deliciousness!

Source: Janneke’s, adapted slightly.

10 thoughts on “Traditional Frisian Sugarbread

  1. You totally rock! I’m an American living in Drenthe. I am an avid bread baker so I wanted to try this recipe out. I will never ever get the store version again. This is so amazing! Thanks!

  2. An old English rhyme says..

    Sugar and spice and all things nice that what little girls are made of…

    Maybe that answers why it was given as a gift..

    Hate to be on the receiving end of the boys treat though …slugs and snails and puppy dog tails thats what little boys are made of…

  3. I increased the butter to 50 grams to make more of an enriched dough. I couldn’t taste the ginger syrup so I’ll increase that next time. I thought the amount of pearl sugar was too much and would reduce it to 100 grams in the future. The best part is the delicious, sticky, caramelised crust. The bread was so easy and will definitely make it again! Thank you.

    1. Hi Nalie! I’m glad you enjoyed the bread 🙂 playing around with recipes is a lot of fun! If you want to increase the ginger flavor even more, you could also add small pieces of crystalized or stem ginger. It’s not traditional but it tastes amazing!

  4. Tried Friesian Sugar Bread last summer while tracing ancestors in Achlum (previous name was Tanja). Can’t find ginger syrup in the US. Can someone share a recipe to make it at home?

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