Saturday, November 27, 2010

Arnhemse Meisjes

Arnhem is, no doubt, mostly known for its role during the Second World War. The movie "A Bridge Too Far" with some of the world's best actors (Sean Connery, Michael Cain, James Caan, Anthony Hopkins, Ryan O'Neal, Robert Redford, Elliot Gould, Gene Hackman) and directed by Richard Attenborough, chronicles the events around Operation Market Garden.

But even before the bridge, and the actors, and the movie and that horrible war, there was something else that was unique to Arnhem: its girls. Noooo, not those kind of girls. A light, sugary, flaky cookie called Arnhemse Meisjes, or Arnhem Girls. Maybe because the girls were sweet and eh....flaky? I don't know. I've never met anybody from Arnhem, to my knowledge, so I have no opinion on the matter.

Its cookies however....They became famous because Roald Dahl, the writer, once stopped in Arnhem on a book signing tour. While he signed away, he was offered coffee and a cookie. He kept eating and eating (thereby dispelling the terrible myth that the Dutch are so tight-fisted that they will only serve you one cookie and then hit the lid on the cookie jar), and fell in love with the cookie. When he was done (signing or eating, I'm not sure) he expressed his admiration for the cookie and said it was the best cookie in the world. Well! Either way, he obtained the recipe from the local baker and it was published in his book  "Roald Dahl's Cookbook".

Nowadays, there is only one official Arnhemse Meisjes baker: bakery Jurjus in Arnhem. These cookies stem from 1829 when baker Hagdorn was busy inventing new cookies that would do well at parties and festivities. One day, he made a cookie in the shape of a shoe sole, sugared it and baked it, and hey presto! the Arnhem Girls were born. The slightly flaky yeast dough pairs nicely with the sugary topping. It is an easy cookie to make and will delight many!

Arnhemse Meisjes
1 full cup of all-purpose flour (approx. 150gr)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of milk, warm (but not hot!)
1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
4 drops of lemon juice
1 stick of butter, room temperature
Sugar

Mix the flour and the salt, stir the yeast in with the warm milk and let it sit for a couple of minutes so the yeast can be activated. Stir the milk and yeast into the flour, add the lemon juice and stir again. Now add the butter in small amounts while you knead/stir until everything comes together. Shape the dough into a sausage, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Take out the dough and divide it into equal pieces, little less than 1oz or 20 gr each. The recipe above should give you approximately 16 cookies. Roll each piece into a small ball. Pour several tablespoons of sugar on the counter and roll the dough balls through the sugar. Wrap and refrigerate. Turn on the oven to 350F.

Retrieve the sugary dough balls from the fridge. Place a dough ball on top of the sugary counter and use a rolling pin to roll each ball into an oval shape, about 3 inches long. Turn it over and press the cookie into the sugar, making sure that both sides are well covered. Place each cookie on a silicone mat or parchment paper on a baking sheet. When all cookies are made, sprinkle the remaining sugar over the cookies and bake them golden in approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

The cookies will puff up, the sugar will caramelize and you will have a wonderful and unique cookie to serve with coffee.



6 comments:

  1. Made these last weekend and they were awesome. They also only lasted about 12 hours before they were all gone. Oh well.. I can always make some more.

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  2. never knew that Roald Dahl loved these! My mother was an Arhems meisje, so these cookies are special to us. ;)

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  3. Love, love these cookies! Made them for Christmas, and these are the most requested cookie now in our home. Thanks!

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  4. What is the consistantcy if the dough ( before you make into a log) suppose to be. I feel like mine is really gooyee. Thankyou

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    1. Desiree, because there is so much butter, it could very well be gooey. Refrigerating it will help solidify the dough. If you feel it's too gooey before making the log, add a tablespoon of cold flour and knead that in, or roll the log in a little bit of flour before you wrap it. Refrigerate it, then run a test cookie (i.e. one single slice) to see if the dough spreads too much. That would happen if there is more butter and not enough flour to hold it together. If yes, add a bit more flour and knead that in. Hope this helps!

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    2. Bakkerij Jurjus is now van Asselt Banketbankerij. http://www.vanasseltbanket.nl I will try to check it out next month and report whether the Arnhemse Meisjes are as good as expected.

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