My parents have this beautiful hazel in their back garden. It was already there when we moved in when I was 6, but we never paid that much attention to it. I remember one year it gave us a huge harvest, but we barely did anything with it; we just had a humongous bowl full of hazelnuts sitting somewhere in the house for a couple of months.
This year we’ve got another one of those big harvests, but now we’re planning to actually do something with all (or most) of those delicious hazelnuts. Because they’re good. They’re really good. I’ve already had a lot of them and they’re really tasty straight out of their shell, let alone when incorporated in some delicious bake.
When I was at my parents’ about a week ago my mother suggested we’d use some of these nuts to bake some traditional Frisian cookies called Fryske Dúmkes (literally translated: Frisian thumbs). They are delicious cookies that are especially known for their distinct anise flavour, and originated in Friesland, a province in the northern part of the Netherlands where my parents both grew up and most of my family still lives.
Besides aniseed and hazelnuts, these cookies also contain ginger and cinnamon, which together make for a fantastic flavour. Mine don’t exactly look like the traditional Fryske dúmke, which is somewhat smaller and looks like it has a thumb print on it. The last picture in this post shows what it’s (more or less) supposed to look like.
You’ll need… (for 40-50 cookies)
– 160 g butter
– 1 egg
– a pinch of salt
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon ginger
– 1½ tablespoon ground aniseed
– 75 g finely chopped hazelnuts
– 180 g plain flour
– rolling pin
– parchment paper
– baking tray
– and an oven, of course! These cookies need to be baked at 160 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven!)
So, let’s get baking!
1. Mix butter and sugar together, then add egg First off, as is the case for most cookies, you have to mix together the butter and the sugar. Don’t melt the butter, just make sure it’s soft. You could use a whisk for this, but I think it’s easier to use a spoon, or a fork. Once the butter and sugar are evenly mixed, add the egg and mix it through.
2. Add salt, spices and hazelnuts Next up, you have to add the salt, cinnamon, ginger, ground aniseed and chopped hazelnuts to your mixture. Again, mix it all through with a spoon/fork. It should be looking pretty darn good already (seriously, this is such a photogenic batter)!
3. Add flour and rest dough in fridge Now you should add the flour and mix it through again a little bit. At this point it’s probably best to start kneading the dough with your hands. It’s still a bit too soft for a proper dough, so once you’ve properly mixed everything together, make a ball of the dough, wrap it in clingfilm and put it to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. Roll out dough and cut cookies When the dough has done its thing in the fridge, take it out and roll it out on a floury surface with a rolling pin (or something else with which you can roll stuff). The dough should be about a centimeter in thickness (or the thickness of a finger). Make sure you use enough flour so the dough doesn’t stick to your surface or rolling pin! Once you’ve rolled it out, you should cut the cookies in your desired shape/size and transfer them onto your baking tray (lined with parchment paper). I made them into small rectangles (using a knife), but they don’t look exactly like the original Fryske dúmkes. The real ones are a bit smaller and thicker than mine turned out.
5. Bake the cookies Once you’ve cut all your cookies (or your tray is full), put the tray into your preheated oven and bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes or until they’ve turned slightly golden brown. Take them out of the oven when they’re done and leave them to cool on the tray for about 5 minutes. You can then transfer them to a cooling rack, or a plate, or whatever to cool down completely.
And there you have it; your own delicious Frisian cookie full of wonderful flavour!