Monday, May 30, 2016

Jan Hagels (Dutch spice cookies)

My mother loved these cookies, but she never made them!  The ones she had were "store-bought" and shaped like a windmill.  I think they're still available, but I'm ever more conscious of baking without preservatives and came up with a recipe that I know she'd love just as much.

Jan Hagels have a long history for the Dutch and most will tell you their "Oma" (grandma) baked them at Christmas.  The name Jan Hagel isn't actually a person the cookie was named after, but rather the word, janhagel which translates to unruly mob, swarm, or "ragtag."  In the 17th century, janhagel was a name give to sailors, riffraft,  common people, and people on the fringes of society and these cookies appealed to them!  Even though they were baked at Christmas, particularly, the feast of St. Nicholas, these cookies are enjoyed throughout the year.

Jan Hagels (Dutch spice cookie)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon (I chose to use Speculaas spices)

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Sliced almonds
Sparkling sugar
Egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp. water)

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together.  Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and add the egg. Beat until combined.  Add the dry ingredients, all at once and mix on low speed, just until combined.
The dough will be soft.  Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic film and wrap.  Chill 1 to 2 hours to set the butter.
After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350F-degrees.  Roll the dough between parchment paper, making sure you keep the sides "squared" up.  I used my bench scrapper to do this.
I brushed the top of the dough with the egg wash, then sprinkled the sliced almonds all over and finally, the sparkling sugar.  

Recipes I have seen said to bake this dough for 15 minutes and I did, but in retrospect, I would suggest chilling the rolled dough once more on the cookie sheet.  Then, remove the dough on the parchment to a cutting board and cut into rectangles.  Bake the cookies on another pan that has parchment on it for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  When I baked the large rectangle of dough for 15 minutes, the sides were done, but the middle was still too light.  Changing to the second method of baking worked much better!

These cookie are flaky and so flavorful...not to mention, my kitchen smelled heavenly.  That brings me back to another story of Jan Hagels--it was said that everyone entering the gates of heaven were given these cookies, especially children and orphans.  Enjoy!


  1. This looks GREAT! I love Speculaas spice mix.

  2. I love the background story of Jan Hagels, Susan. They certainly do look yummy. xoxo ♥

    1. Martha, I have over a 1000 cookbooks and I mainly love reading the stories behind recipes. So interesting.

  3. These remind me of the almond bars I make for Christmas every year. Mine don't have cinnamon in them, and they are drizzled lightly with a little powdered sugar glaze. These look good too! Also, mine are formed into 4, 4 inch x 12 inch pieces. Maybe that helps them to brown more evenly? Sounds like your technique worked well for that as well!

  4. Oh Susan, those cookies look totally delectable. Mmm mmm mmm How nice that you shared your recipe. Why don't you publish a cookbook? Hope all is well in your little corner of the world. Hugs. Susan

    1. Thanks Susan...maybe one day I'll have time to do a cookbook;-) We're getting hot here and a bit humid, but all is well.

  5. Susan! yes, those windmill cookies are still available and I LIKE them! I sure would like to try your version of that cookie.
    stamping sue