Frisian Pepernoten Recipe

Frisian Pepernoten Recipe | Koekbook

I have posted traditional pepernoten on the blog before, but I thought I might do something special today: Frisian pepernoten! These pepernoten hail from my home province of Frisia (Fryslân) and what makes them different is the aniseed flavor. I LOVE aniseed as it always reminds me of home and bakeries we used to visit when I was a kid. Frisians love their aniseed!

Frisian Pepernoten Recipe | Koekbook

As you might know, pepernoten are like mini cookies which are eaten coming up to and during the feast of Saint Nicholas, our version of Christmas where Saint Nicholas (who is the inspiration for Santa) hands out presents to children by traveling across roofs on a white horse and having his helper Pete travel through the chimney to place the presents in children’s shoes (sound familiar?).

Frisian Pepernoten Recipe | Koekbook

If you’re looking for a fresh alternative to the usual speculaas-spice-heavy pepernoten, these Frisian ones are the perfect option. I like to dip mine in tea or chocolate milk, but they are scrumptious all on their own. Enjoy!

Frisian Pepernoten Recipe | Koekbook

Frisian Pepernoten Recipe

Recipe source: What’s That Smell


75 grams light brown sugar
125 grams self-raising flour
125 grams plain flour
4 grams baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons speculaas spices
1/2 teaspoon ground aniseed
1/4 teaspoon salt
150 grams honey
2 tablespoons milk

some sunflower oil to grease hands with

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/390F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or a Silpat mat.

2. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Measure honey out in a microwaveable bowl and heat for about 25 seconds on the highest setting in the microwave. Pour honey into the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to mix it in. Add the milk and knead by hand until everything is well incorporated. If the dough is too crumbly, add a bit more milk.

3. Grease your hands with some sunflower oil and roll little balls, about 6 grams a piece, or marble sized, out of the dough. You’ll be able to fill about 1 1/2 baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes (keep an eye on them!). They will keep for a few days in an airtight container.

Saint Nicholas Speculaas Tart


Saint Nicholas Speculaas Tart | Koekbook




It’s that time of year again to eat too many pepernoten, inhale speculaas cookies and gain a pound in chocolate: yup, Sinterklaas is in the country! I’ve been seeing the most delicious Sinterklaas bakes by fellow bloggers on Instagram (I swear I spend too much time on Instagram these days, I’m addicted..), amongst which a speculaas cream tart topped with traditional Sinterklaas treats (“strooigoed”) by Rutger Bakt, the first winner of Dutch Bake Off. I was thoroughly inspired and decided to bake my own version!

Saint Nicholas Speculaas Tart | Koekbook

Speculaas spices, which are used in the pastry cream, are most delicious, a bit similar to pumpkin spice or mixed spice but slightly different. You can make your own blend, for example following this recipe. There are many variations to be found though, so find out which one suits your taste best! I find speculaas goes really well with chocolate, so I used cocoa powder in my pastry dough, but you can also use a vanilla version of the dough if preferred.

Saint Nicholas Speculaas Tart | Koekbook

Strewn on top of this tart are traditional Sinterklaas treats, also known as “strooigoed” (throwing treats). Throwing, because Sinterklaas’s helpers, his “Petes”, are known to throw them at children when visiting schools or community centers. Yup, kids eat it off floors! I suppose it’s good for their immune systems, but I’m sure Americans would freak out over it. Don’t worry, no one ever died from eating a pepernoot off the floor 😉 You can bake your own pepernoten and cover them in chocolate, or buy sweets online or even at a specialty Dutch store. When you don’t feel like doing all that, the tart is delicious without the “strooigoed” as well and will give you sufficient cozy Saint Nicholas Eve feels. Best served with a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

Saint Nicholas Speculaas Tart | Koekbook


Recipe Saint Nicholas Speculaas Tart

Tools: 35×11 cm tart tin (or tin with equivalent dimensions – you might have to do a bit of math!), baking beans, baking parchment, rolling pin, pastry brush, piping bag


Pâte Sucrée au Chocolat (Pastry Dough):

90 grams icing sugar
25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
120 grams soft unsalted butter
2 grams salt
30 grams almond flour
1 egg
210 grams plain or pastry flour

75 grams white chocolate, chopped

Speculaas Pastry Cream:

400 ml full-fat milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or 1/2 seeds of a vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
100 grams castor sugar
40 grams flour
2 teaspoons speculaas spices


Sinterklaas treats/candy to taste

1. To make the pastry dough, sift icing sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add butter, salt and almond flour and mix until well combined on low speed. Add egg, mix until incorporated. Add flour and knead or mix until just incorporated. Wrap dough in clingfilm and leave to chill for at least 1 hour.

2. In the meanwhile, make the pastry cream. Pour 375ml of the milk and the vanilla extract or seeds in a saucepan. In a bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Bring milk to a boil, pour into the other ingredients while continuously whisking. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil while whisking. Leave to cook for about 1 minute, then take off the heat and cover the top of the cream with clingfilm. Leave to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 180C/355F.

4. Grease the tart tin. Roll the chilled dough out into a rectangle large than the tin. You’ll have a bit of leftover pastry which you can use to make chocolate cookies or to make some smaller tarts, so don’t roll the pastry too thick. Cut the overhanging pastry away. Chill the pastry base for at least 30 minutes. Prick the bottom of the case all over with a fork. Line the base with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 20 minutes, then take the baking beans and parchment out and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Leave to cool.

5. Melt 75 grams white chocolate au bain marie. Use a pastry brush to brush the whole pastry shell with white chocolate. This will keep the shell from going soggy. Leave to set (you can do this in the fridge.

6. Fill a piping bag with large round nozzle with the pastry cream. Stir the pastry cream first if it has gone very firm). Pipe the cream into the pastry shell. Top with Sinterklaas treats and candy. Best served on the same day. Enjoy!

Taai Taai (Soft Dutch Anise Cookies)

Taai Taai | A Dutchie Baking


Yet another Sinterklaas recipe today! I just can’t keep away from them this time of year 😉 This time I’ve made Taai Taai, which translates to “tough-tough”, hinting at the texture of this cookie. You usually need your teeth in place when biting into this delicacy! It’s somewhere between a cake and a cookie, soft but too thin for a cake (and too chewy for that matter). It’s flavored with aniseed, which is one of my favorite flavors in baking, something which comes with my Frisian heritage.

Taaitaai is somewhat similar in texture to the German Lebkuchen. Just like Lebkuchen, it is traditionally baked with syrup, although modern recipes often feature a combination of honey and sugar as in the recipe below. In my previous post, I wrote about the symbolism of speculaas “dolls”. Whereas a speculaas doll indicated you liked the recipient in a romantic manner, giving a taaitaai doll in return meant you were not interested. In Dutch, we have the verb “aftaaien” which means something like  Well, in my opinion it’s a lot clearer (and more civilized) than today’s dating rituals!

I made my taaitaai in a special mold (designed by Nadine), but you can make yours by rolling the dough out and cutting out figures with (cookie) cutters 🙂 

Taai Taai | A Dutchie Baking

Recipe Taai Taai

Source: De Banketbakker – Cees Holtkamp

Tools: cookie cutters or taai taai mold; pastry brush


190    grams light brown sugar
130    grams liquid honey

100    grams water
230    grams pastry flour (T45 or Zeeuwse bloem)
200    grams white rye flour (roggebloem)
4       grams salt
15     grams ground aniseed
10     grams baking powder
1       egg, beaten
rice flour (optional)

1. Bring 170 grams of the sugar, the honey and 80 grams of the water to the boil. Take pan off the heat and stir in the pastry flour, rye flour and salt. Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for one day.

2. Preheat the oven to 210C/410F. 

3. Knead the rest of the sugar, ground aniseed, baking powder and the rest of the water through the dough. You can try and use a stand mixer (like a Kitchenaid), but the dough is quite tough so be sure to stay with the mixer as there is a chance it will overheat. I kneaded by hand for a bit first and then transferred to the mixer.

4. If using  a mold: dust with rice flour, push dough into mold. Use a knife to cut off excess dough and coax the dough out of the mold.
    If using cookie cutters: roll out dough to 1 cm thickness in a lightly flour working surface. Cut out figures with cookie cutters.

5. Place figures on a greased baking tray. Brush with beaten egg. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Banketletter or Banketstaaf (Puff Pastry filled with Almond Paste)

This recipe is the result of a freezer cleanup. You know when freezers get overstuffed with dough, fillings, buttercreams and in my particular case: veggies? You use half of a certain dough recipe and freeze the rest for a rainy day. Or you use half a bag of veggies and don’t look at the remainder again until you dig into the back of your freezer drawer.. I really needed to make room in my freezer and I found some puff pastry leftover from my birthday and almond paste which I had made for my previous recipe for filled speculaas. 1+1=2 and puff pastry+almond paste=banketletter! Absolutely delicious and perfect to bake on that rainy day 😉


This is another Dutch Sinterklaas treat… I know, I already have so many on the blog! But I can’t get enough. Sinterklaas bakes are just perfect. In my mind, the period around Sinterklaas is inherently “gezellig” (cosy) and any food related to it just releases those relaxing hormones (or something..).
This is a fairly easy recipe; I made my own “base ingredients”, but you can use shopbought if you don’t feel like folding your own pastry or whizzing up your own paste. I would recommend adding some lemon or orange zest to the paste in any case, for that extra bit of flavor! You can also use this recipe to make a “christmas wreath” or two “banketstaven” (directions underneath the recipe), but I always get a lot of fun out of shaping it into a letter. Okay, an E or an F might be difficult, but you could always go for the S of Sinterklaas, as many professional bakers do. I hope you’ll enjoy this buttery, flaky treat! 
Banketletter Recipe
Tools: pastry brush
300    gr puff pastry 
300    gr almond paste
1       egg, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 225C/440F.
2. On a lightly floured working surface, roll the puff pastry out to a rectangle a little bigger than 40 x 10 cm. Trim the sides to make it an exact 40 x 10cm. If you’re using separate sheets of pastry, pile them onto eachother and proceed to roll it out.  
3. Roll the almond paste out into a 37 cm long strand. Place it into the centre of the dough. Brush edges of the dough with a little water and roll the whole thing up. Seal the roll by pinching the seam and the ends.
4. Lightly spray a baking sheet with some water and place the banketletter onto the sheet, shaping it into the desired letter as you go. Brush letter with eggwash.
5. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until it is a good golden brown.
6. Once baked, leave on the sheet for about 10-15 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely (or eat it warm!). 
Banketstaaf: Cut the longer roll into two pieces, seal the ends and bake as above.
Christmas wreath: Shape roll into a circle, seal the ends together. Decorate with glacé cherries, flaked almonds and candied peel. Bake as above. Brush with a little heated apricot jam once baked and cooled slightly.

Filled Speculaas (Gevulde Speculaas)

If you know me personally, or if you have been following me for a while, then you might know I enjoy autumn and winter a lot more than spring and summer. The latter two are synonomous to sticky sunscreened skin and sweaty nights while the colder months mean curling up with hot chocolate, playing in the snow and of course, a lot of baking. We Dutchies have Sinterklaas in november and december (I wrote about this holiday before in my pepernoten post), for which we have created many special baked treats. This filled speculaas is one of those special treats!

So when the first storm warnings (apparently, there is one coming up tomorrow) are coming in, I am heating up my oven faster than you can say BAKE! And since speculaas (or speculoos) bakes are hot and happening all over the world right now (I found a couple in my international baking magazines and in blogs which I follow) I thought I might as well share the recipe for this lovely, spiced “koek”. It isn’t too difficult!

Filled speculaas is soft speculaas dough, layered with almond paste. I make my own, but you can use storebought if necessary. You don’t want to eat a piece which is too large, as it is quite “heavy”. But a bit of heaviness is nice when you’ve cycled through the traditional seasonal pouring rain. And let’s be honest, you’ve already burnt the calories by then 😉
Do you enjoy the colder months as much as I do? And what do you enjoy to bake when the temperatures drop?

Filled Speculaas (Gevulde Speculaas) Recipe

Tools: 20cm square baking tin, pastry brush



200     gr plain flour
150     gr dark brown sugar
150     gr cold butter, diced
pinch of salt
1        tablespoon speculaas spice blend
2        teaspoon baking powder


250     gr almond paste
1/4     beaten egg (save the rest for the glaze)
1        teaspoon milk 


16      almonds, blanched

1. To make the dough in a food processor: add all the dough ingredients to the food processor bowl and pulse with the blade attachment until you have a fine, sand-like texture. Transfer to a regular bowl and knead to a dough. If the dough is too dry and won’t come together, add a tablespoon of milk.

To make the dough without a food processor: add all the dough ingredients except for the butter to a bowl and mix until everything is evenly dispersed. Add the cold butter, and using two knives, cut through the mixture until you have a sand-like texture. If necessary, add a tablespoon of milk.

Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours. 

2. Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease the baking tin.

3. Divide the dough into two pieces, one about 300 grams, the other 200 grams. Rewrap the 200 gram piece in the film and leave in the fridge until you are going to use it. Roll the 300 gram piece out to a 25 cm square and place in the tin. You will have 2,5 cm edges, make sure they are all even. 

4. To make the filling, mix the ingredients until you have a spreadable mass. Pipe or spread the filling onto the dough. Fold the edges inwards onto the filling. Roll the remaining piece of dough out to a 20cm square and place in the tin. Carefully seal with your fingers.

5. Brush top with beaten egg, then decorate with almonds (you can be as creative as you want, I went with a simple single almond for each piece) – push them slightly into the dough.

6. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

7. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Once cool, cut into 16 pieces and serve. Enjoy!

Dutch Speculaasbrokken (Spice Cookies)

Speculaasbrokken | KoekbookDutch Speculaasbrokken (Spice Cookies) | A Dutchie Baking


Yup, this is a Dutchie baking alright! I’m still in the “Sinterklaas” mood, this time I’ve baked some classic speculaasbrokken (spice cookies). The dough is fairly similar to that of the pepernoten I baked last week, but a tablespoon of egg adds some extra rise and softness to the finished product. I would say it’s a bit like gingerbread.


I have to say I haven’t been making things easy for myself, baking a lot of “brown” foods. They are so difficult to photograph, and I’m only just starting out with a DSLR camera. I found some excellent (e-)books on food photography, so I am not discouraged yet (I can recommend “Tasty Food Photography” by Lindsay)
 The cookies I made were sort of soft, almost cake-like, I kind of winged it with the rolling out of the dough so it was probably a bit too thick. I left my rolling pin at my parents’ house, so I cleaned a wine bottle (we have plenty of those here, I don’t drink wine myself) and used that to roll it out instead. Student solutions! If you like a soft consistency in a cookie, go for a thicker piece, otherwise keep the dough at 0.5 centimeter as called for in the recipe. To make these a little more fancy, you could decorate with some (blanched) almonds. You can substitute the butter and milk with their dairy-free alternatives (in fact, this is what I did). You don’t bake these cookies separately, but break up one larger piece. The result is a rustic look which I really like – not everything has to look like it was made in a factory, on the contrary! This looks lovely and homebaked. In fact, you could just keep it in one piece and it would pass for a giant cookie. 

Recipe Speculaasbrokken


200 gr all-purpose flour
100 gr dark brown sugar
100 gr butter, diced
pinch of salt
1 tbsp egg, beaten (keep the rest for the glaze)
4 tsp speculaas spices
1 tsp baking powder
milk (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 175C/Gas 3/350F. Grease a baking tray.

2. Sift the baking powder and flour into a bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients, except for the milk. Knead until the dough comes away from the sides. If the dough is too dry, add some milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Shape the dough into a ball.

3. Roll the dough out on the baking tray until you have a 0.5cm/1/6 inch thick piece. You can roll it out in whichever shape you want, you’re going to break it up afterwards anyway.

4. Glaze the dough with the remaining eggwash, then decorate with almonds if desired.

5. Bake for 30 mins in the middle of the oven. Then leave to cool on the baking sheet until cool. Break or cut into pieces.

Traditional Dutch “Pepernoten” Recipe

Traditional Dutch "Pepernoten" Recipe | Koekbook


November is upon us, and in the Netherlands that means we are getting ready for the feast of Saint Nicholas (“Sinterklaas”), celebrated on the 5th of december. Saint Nicholas comes with a lot of traditional baking and candy. His helper Piet throws the stuff into rooms when you least expect it. Pepernoten (“pepper nuts”) are one of the pillars of Sinterklaas baking, a small, crunchy cookie flavored with speculaas spices. If you don’t have access to this blend,  you can make your own. The Dutch eat LOADS of these every year. Pepernoten are so popular that supermarkets now stock them in August – a controversial decision which has led to protest from traditionalists. 

To be really honest here, these pepernoten should actually be called kruidnoten, but no one in the Netherlands really makes the distinction. “Real” pepernoten are tougher, contain aniseed and are healthier for you. It’s similar to “taai-taai”, a tough and chewy type of cookie. The real pepernoten have declined in popularity in recent years, I think their jaw-hurting abilities might have something to do with that. 

You’ll notice the mandarin in the photos. I am OBSESSED with mandarins. They are pretty much what makes the holiday season for me. Mandarins and pepernoten together smell like my childhood, the nostalgia!

The recipe below can be easily veganfied: just swap the milk and butter for a dairy-free alternative and you’re all set! For more info on Sinterklaas, check out this Wikipedia page

Traditional Dutch "Pepernoten" Recipe | Koekbook

Pepernoten Recipe


150 gr all-purpose flour

75gr dark brown sugar 
60 gr unsalted butter, diced
approx. 3 tbsp milk 
1 tbsp speculaas spice blend 
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F/Gas 3 and grease a baking tray. 

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix these together so they are distributed evenly. 

3. Add the butter and rub it into the dry mixture with your hands until you get a sand-like consistency. 

4. Add the milk, and knead until the dough has come away from the bowl. 

5. Roll the dough into little marble sized balls between your hands and place them on the baking tray, leaving some space between each ball. Bake the pepernoten in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.