Dutch Letters

My father-in-law left this morning after staying with us for a week.  It’s interesting how many similarities there are between Dave and him!  They look alike (hmmmm).    They have the same voice (alarming).  They are both Dutch (Adieu, Kitchen Aid Pro 600 series, see you in my dreams).

No, they are really Dutch!  Funny last name and all.  FIL lives in this little town called Pella where they have even more funny last names, windmills everywhere, tulip festival, and a Dutch bakery. 

The bakery (Jaarsma) is famous for its S-shaped pastries – Dutch letters.  Traditionally the letters are baked around Christmas, but the Pella-cans bake them the whole year round.  And I don’t blame them.  The pastry is splendid!   This recipe is adopted from Saveur. 

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  • 4.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb unsalted  chilled butter cut into pea-size cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 7 oz almond paste
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup milk

Yields 20 pastries


Prepare the dough.  Whisk together flour and salt, add butter and mix until flour coats butter.

In a small bowl whisk water and 1 egg, and add the mixture to the flour.  Stir.

Transfer dour to a floured surface and knead until it comes together.

Roll into a 15×10-inch/38×25.5 cm rectangle .  Fold the sheet – position it horizontally, fold the sides to meet in the middle, and then fold in the middle.  Rotate rectangle and repeat rolling and folding.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Uncover; and repeat rolling and folding two more times.  Wrap dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 more hour.

Prepare the filling.  In a medium bowl, whisk together paste and 1 egg white using a hand mixer.  Add the 2nd egg white, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugars, and beat until smooth.

Prepare the egg wash by whisking the remaining egg and milk.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375⁰ F/190⁰ C.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut dough into 4 equal pieces.  Leave 3 wrapped pieces in the refrigerator, and roll the 4th piece into a 12.5×10 inch/31.75×25.5 cm.  Cut the dough sheet into 5 equal pieces  10 inch/25.5 cm long.

Using a pastry bag apply a line of filling in the middle of each strip.

Using a brush, apply a line of egg wash on one side of the dough strip.  Roll the dough like a cigar starting with a dry edge.

Place the roll on the baking sheet, seam side down, forming a letter S shape (or any other letter).

Brush each pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before serving.



  1. decorartuk says:

    To tell the truth one of the letters in the second photo looks rather alarming… reminds of something that might make your kids giggle, but sometimes that’s all you need!

    Well your Dutch letters would go nicely with a cup of coffee, so I guess I might have to bake some… (How do you find time to prepare so much homemade food?)

    • Anastasia says:

      That’s what my husband said about the alarming looks, though he was pretty clear on the subject.
      I’m a stay at home mom of the little ones. They nap – I bake!

  2. WyomingStoryGirl says:

    My family is from Knoxville, Tracey & Bussey area (about 1hr south of Des Moines) -but we had some Boyer relations in Pella, Iowa! I have old photos of them in the parade too. I’ll try your recipe out soon. If I make them as good as yours look I’ll come back to post you a link so you can see the photos of mine.

  3. rolandito says:

    thank you for asking david to bring me a letter *s* the other day. it was so delicious especially the almond filling. *s* for super delicioso! i’ll share this in my fb page. :)

  4. mygrandmasue says:

    I LOVE Dutch Letters! Thanks for the recipe!! I added your blog as a link on my blog page – it’s under “Other Interesting Websites” so I hope my followers will find you, too! :-)

  5. hausmiller says:

    I’ve been to Pella. :) My husband is from a small town nearby. Those Dutch letters are yummy. Funny thing is that I don’t remember seeing them in the Netherlands when we’ve visited. I’ll have to look next time.

    • StefanGourmet says:

      In the Netherlands they are actually called “banketletters” (pastry letters) and they are mostly eaten for St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas, 5 December). That’s also why it’s usually a letter S (for Sint).

  6. myjourney2healthy says:

    Hi, thank you for stopping by my blog. I love your twist on lentil soup! I love lentil soup as it is…and this just makes it more exciting, your photography is awesome and everything looks delicious! I also love reading and will def start following :)

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