Bossche Bollen

Anytime we travel by train in the Netherlands, I always check to see if, by chance, Den Bosch station is on the route. Ever since I found out that the pastry store of Jan de Groot is right outside the station, I try to stop in and have their signature pastry: the Bossche bol. I take my research very seriously! ;-) Their iconic pastries are like chocolate eclairs but bigger, fluffier, rounder, with better chocolate and much more cream. These Bossche beauties have made the city of 's Hertogenbosch famous (or is it the other way around?) and are the number one pastry that is served with a fork and knife* and a handful of napkins. Because there is no way, just like with the tompouce, that you will not end up with whipped cream on your lap, on your tie or blouse, and on your fingers. And that is just the charm of these bollen.

Now, these come together fairly quickly and are not all that hard to make, so give it a try! And if they don't come out looking exactly the same as Jan de Groot's - not to worry. Practice makes perfect - and it's better to have a funny shaped Bossche bol than no Bossche bol. Right? Right!

Bossche Bollen
For the dough:
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
3 tablespoons (50 grams) butter
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (75 grams) all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten

For the filling:
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
2 large tablespoons powdered sugar

For the glaze:
1/3 cup (75 ml) whipping cream
1 cup (125 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat the water and the butter and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then take off the stove. Add the flour and stir until it all comes together in a ball. Let it cool a little bit (just a few minutes), then stir in the eggs a few spoonfuls at a time, and continue to stir until the dough has absorbed all the egg and is a homogenous whole.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, divide the dough in four and place it on top of the parchment. Bake in a 375F/190C degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until puffy and golden. Cool on a rack. As they cool, they will deflate some, but not to worry. 

In the meantime, beat the whipping cream and the sugar until stiff. Fill a pastry bag with a small tip and poke through the bottom of the bol. Cup the pastry, bottom up, in your hand, and fill with whipped cream. It will puff up nicely and give a round shape to the pastry.

Heat the cream on the stove to boiling, then pull it off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips. Let them melt, and stir the whole thing into a sauce. Let it cool for about 10 minutes or until lukewarm, then carefully take the cream-filled Bossche bol and dip, head first, into the chocolate. If you don't want to get your hands dirty, just set the bollen on a rack and slowly pour the chocolate over the top, one spoonful at a time. I have had the best luck with pouring over, for an even coating. 

Cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate is solid and everything has had a chance to firm up a bit. Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee and some good company. And keep those napkins handy!

And this is what happens when you turn your back for a moment and somebody else is with you in the kitchen.......Needless to say, the Bossche bol is messy enough to easily identify the culprit, although I wasn't sure if the whipped cream on their chin or the cheesy grin on their face gave them away. Both, I guess!

* purists will shudder at the thought of being given a knife and fork! They turn the pastry upside down and just bite into it. 


Tiger rolls, tiger bread, or Dutch crunch are a typical and traditional Dutch bread. When I grew up, it would mostly appear as a luxury bread on weekends, or during special holiday breakfasts or brunches, such as Easter or Christmas. I am not sure why it's called tiger bread, although I assume because it has a rather exotic looking crust, but it could just as well have been called giraffe bread or leopard bread. But tiger bread it is, so that's what we'll call it!  The unique crust is achieved by spreading a rice flour and yeast paste on the bread dough. As the bread rises, the crust splits into separate crunchy little morsels. Eat these rolls warm out of the oven or re-heated: the crust will have a pleasant crunch and the taste will be optimal. For a richer dough, you can use milk instead of water. 

© Maas en Scheldebode 14 June 1901 pg.8

The earliest advertisement that I was able to find stems from 1901, where master baker Wessels from 
Sommelsdijk (Zuid-Holland) announces the availability of "tijgerbrood" daily, but no information whatsoever as to where it came from, who invented it, or how it came about. One source online suggests that it must have come from Asia, seeing as how rice flour was not used in the Netherlands. But Aaltje's cookbook from 1845 includes several recipes with rice, and rice flour, so it wasn't all that uncommon. It was however considered a bread in its own category, as many baking competitions and baker certifications had a separate category for tiger bread. 

Oh well. I will keep digging to see if I can figure it out, but in the meantime, let's bake! 

For the dough
4 cups all-purpose flour (550 gr.)
1 1/2 cup warm water (355 ml)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (8 gr.)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (8 gr.)
1 teaspoon sugar (6 gr.)
1 tablespoon butter, melted (15 gr.)

For the crust paste
3/4 cup rice flour (100 gr.)
1/2 cup warm water (118 ml)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (9 gr.)
1 tablespoon sugar (15 gr.)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (15 gr.)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (1 gr.)

For the dough, mix the flour, salt, yeast and sugar. Add the warm water and knead until a soft dough. Add in the tablespoon of melted butter, knead together. Let rise for an hour, or until doubled, punch down and divide into equally sized rolls ( I measure mine out at approx. 3.5 oz/100 grams each)

For the crust, mix flour with water, yeast and the sugar. Stir, then add the salt and the oil. Let sit for about fifteen minutes (get a cup big enough because it will rise extensively!). Brush the rolls with the mixture, applying a layer of paste on the top and sides of the rolls. (You will not use up all the paste, somewhere up to 3/4 of the mixture - just don't spread it on too thick)

Proof the rolls for another ten minutes, then bake in a 375F oven for about 20-22 minutes or until golden brown. Best eaten the same day.

Makes nine rolls.


The fastest way to describe saucijzenbroodjes is to say they're like worstenbroodjes, sausage rolls, but fancier. Instead of bread dough encasing the ground meat sausage, a saucijzenbroodje wraps the meat in a delicate pillow of crisp, flaky puff pastry. The common worst gets bread dough, the saucijs (a fancier name for sausage, from the French saucisse) gets the buttery pastry.

It's the culinary version of a famous Dutch saying: "Er zijn werkpaarden en er zijn luxe paarden"(There are work horses and there are luxury horses). The saucijzenbroodje is definitely a luxury horse!

Saucijzenbroodjes are readily available, warm, at Dutch train stations, in fast food places and often consumed for lunch with a salad or a cup of soup. The puff pastry makes it a fairly rich treat (and a bit messy if you're eating it on the go!) but is also very versatile. This recipe makes a basic, pretty standard flavored roll, but you are welcome to add your favorite spices to the mix. How about shoarma flavors, or a spicy hint of curry? It's your choice!

This is also a great treat to share with friends at a potluck, as a snack for TV watching, or for lunch with a salad.

8 squares of 5 x 5 inches frozen puff pastry
1 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons panko or bread crumbs

Lay the puff pastry squares on the counter to defrost. Mix the meat, parsley and the spices together, add half of the beaten egg and all of the breadcrumbs. Mix and roll into a large sausage. Divide it in eight equal parts and roll each one into a log, about 4.5 inches long, a little shorter than the length of the puff pastry square.

Heat the oven to 425 F. Place the sausage on one half of the pastry square, brush a little egg on the edges and fold over the other half. Press the long edge shut with a fork. After you've folded all eight pastry squares, brush the tops with the rest of the beaten egg. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, put the saucijzenbroodjes on top and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Best eaten hot or warm - keep in fridge and consume within 24 hours.

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De snelste manier om een saucijzenbroodje te beschrijven is door te zeggen dat ze op worstenbroodjes lijken, maar dan sjieker. In plaats van brooddeeg om het worstje van gehakt, omarmt het saucijzenbroodje het vlees in een broos kussen van knapperig, luchtig bladerdeeg. De gewone worst krijgt brooddeeg, de saucijs (een sjiekere naam voor worst, van het Frans saucisse) krijgt het smeuïge korstdeeg.

Het is de culinaire versie van het bekende Nederlandse spreekwoord "Er zijn werkpaarden en er zijn luxe paarden". Het saucijzenbroodje is beslist een luxe paardje!

Saucijzenbroodjes zijn kant-en-klaar verkrijgbaar, warm, op Nederlandse treinstations, in cafetarias en worden vaak gegeten tijdens het middagmaal met een salade of een kopje soep. Het bladerdeeg zorgt ervoor dat het best wel een machtige versnapering is (en kruimelt nogal als je hem uit het vuistje eet!) maar is ook vrij veelzijdig. Dit recept is voor een standaard saucijzenbroodje, maar u kunt er natuurlijk uw eigen draai aan geven. Wat dacht u van shoarma kruiden, of een pittige kerriesmaak? Kiest u maar!

Dit is ook een lekkere traktatie om te delen met vrienden tijdens een gezamenlijk etentje, als een snack tijdens het televisie kijken, of voor het middagmaal met een salade.

8 plakjes bladerdeeg van 12 x 12 cm
500 gram rundergehakt
1 eetlepel verse peterselie, fijngehakt
1/2 theelepel uienpoeder
1/2 theelepel zwarte peper, gemalen
Mespuntje nootmuskaat
1 theelepel zout
1 ei, geklopt
2 eetlepels panko of broodkruimels

Leg de plakjes bladerdeeg op het aanrecht om ze te ontdooien. Meng het vlees met de peterselie en de specerijen, voeg de helft van het ei toe en de volledige broodkruimels. Meng het nogmaals, en rol het dan in een grote worst. Verdeel het in acht gelijke stukken en rol ieder stuk uit tot een stammetje, ongeveer 10 cm, iets korter dan de lengte van het bladerdeeg.

Heat the oven to 225C. Plaats ieder worstje op de ene helft van het plakje bladerdeeg, strijk een beetje ei op de randjes en vouw de andere helft er over heen. Druk de lange kant vast met de tanden van een vork. Nadat u alle acht plakjes bladerdeeg gevouwen heeft, strijk de bovenkant dan in met de rest van het ei. Leg een blaadje bakpapier op een bakplaat, leg de saucijzenbroodjes er op en bak ze in de oven voor ongeveer 20 minuten, of totdat ze mooi goudbruin zijn.

Het lekkerste warm uit de oven of lauw gegeten - bewaar ze anders in de koelkast en gebruik ze binnen een dag.


If you're a fan of Carnaval, and if you find yourself in the southern regions of the country in the next week or so, you are in luck! This year, February is the month that the traditionally Catholic parts of the Netherlands celebrate this colorful festival, but the planning for these events already started on November 11 of last year. During these meetings, princes are elected to rule the temporary kingdoms, routes need to be established, floats designed, costumes is an unstoppable beehive of activity that involves many members of a community.

All this hard work culminates, during the five days before and after the weekend of February 11th, in a myriad of activities. The party starts on Thursday and ends the morning of Ash Wednesday. In the province of Limburg especially, carnaval is a colorful revelry of non-stop music, dancing, laughter and drinking, five days long. Five days long!!! (If you want to see what carnaval is all about, check out the excellent documentary "Nao Ut Zuuje",about carnaval in the city of Venlo)

As you can imagine, all that physical energy has to be fed and maintained somehow – and in the southeastern part of the province, it's the deep fried nonnevotten that provide that much needed fuel. The combination of grease, sugar, carbs and warmth provide enough energy to keep going, especially when it’s cold outside. And with carnaval being so early this year, it's bound to be a chilly one!

Nonnevotten are pillowy knots of deep fried dough, rolled in sugar, and are traditionally from the city of Sittard, in Limburg. Their name translates as "nuns' bums" but it is unclear where the name comes from. Some claim it's because the pastries are tied into a knot and look like the bows on the aprons of the Franciscan nuns (another name for the pastry is "strik", bow). Others say "vot" comes from "vod", rags, since the Franciscan sisters presumably exchanged fried goods for donated worn clothing that they would pass on to the poor. So far, I haven't been able to find a reliable and conclusive source for its name, but these two sound plausible.

The nonnevotten are made with flour, milk, yeast, and butter, and are rolled in sugar before being served. In the old days, these knots were great for using up the last of the perishable ingredients before Lent kicked in, but they proved to be so popular that they can be found in bakeries year round. Nonnevotten are best eaten warm and fresh straight from the baker’s store. 

Somehow the whole "let's-party-like-it's-going-to-be-Lent-in-five-days" doesn't really work when you live so far away from it all.  I cherish the memories of walking in the carnaval parades with my grandma Pauline, tossing candy to the kids, long days going from village to village dressed up either individually or in a group - it was a lot of fun!

So, although I don't dress up anymore, am not dancing any polonaises anytime soon, or even engage in loud song singing while dressed in a colorful costume, I will honor this traditional festivity by frying nonnevotten. Just because I'm not a part of the carnaval festivities back home, doesn't mean I have to forego all pleasures. Time to whip up a batch of dough and fry up some sugary, doughy goodies! Alaaaffff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1/2 cup (125 ml) milk, lukewarm
3 teaspoons (10 gr.) active dry yeast*
1 3/4 cup (250 gr.) flour
5 tablespoons (60 gr.) butter, melted and room temperature
2 tablespoons (20 gr.) sugar

Fryer oil (sunflower, canola, rapeseed....)
Deep fryer or fryer pan for stove top

Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the lukewarm milk. The larger the surface, the better so that all the single particles can expand in the liquid, and not clump together. Set it aside so that it can proof. This should not take long, a good five minutes, where the yeast will start forming small bubbles.

While you wait for the yeast to proof, mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl and check the oil in your fryer. Make sure it's clean and that you have enough oil.

Pour the warm milk with the yeast in the bowl with the flour, add the melted butter and knead everything together into a scraggly dough. Continue to knead the dough for five or six minutes on the counter top until it's smooth. Roll it into a ball, put it back into the bowl and cover it. Let rest and rise for about 30 to 40 minutes in a warm spot.

After the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl onto the counter, and roll it into a log, with just a few strokes. Divide the dough into six equal parts. Roll each part into a long rope, about 16 inches (about 40 cm) long, place a loose knot in it and set aside until all ropes are done. Some bakers tie one single knot, others wrap the dough ends twice, so take your pick. After you've knotted the dough, cover them loosely with plastic wrap, and let the nonnevotten rest and rise for at least fifteen to twenty minutes, while you heat the oil.

Heat the fryer or a skillet with oil to 350F/180C. Fry two or three nonnevotten at a time until golden-brown, but don't crowd the pan. Stack them on a plate with paper towels to drain some of the fat, and when cooled down, roll in sugar.

Enjoy warm or cold, and have a wonderful, fun and safe Carnaval!

* Or 30 grams fresh yeast.


It's actually called "breakfast cake", this ontbijtkoek, but Dutch spice bread seems a more appropriate term in English. Favored by young and old, ontbijtkoek is an integral part of the breakfast table in Holland. It also shows up as a quick pick-me-up around four o'clock with a cup of tea, and it performs as the key ingredient for a children's birthday game called "koekhappen", i.e. cake nipping. This is where slices of ontbijtkoek are strung on a piece of wire or string and held above the heads of blindfolded children. Like birds in a nest, they strain their little necks up, mouths open wide, in hope of catching a crumb. The joke for the grownups is of course to lower the cake within reach and then yank it up, so that the kids bite into air instead of a sweet treat. One of the commercials that still has me laughing out loud is this one for a famous ontbijtkoek brand.

Ontbijtkoek, just like that other Dutch favorite, honey cake, is traditionally not baked at home. Not many breads or cakes are any more, unfortunately, and these breakfast beauties are mostly produced commercially. But heck, I wouldn't be Dutch if I didn't at least try, and I am glad to say that the homemade version is close enough, or perhaps even better, than the store-bought version. Go on, have a try! For a gluten-free version, substitute 2 cups (300 grams) of Bob's Red Mill GF flour for the two cups of flour in the recipe.

1 cup rye flour (150g)
1 cup all purpose flour (150g)
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each cardamom, ginger, coriander, and ground cloves
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (100g)
1/4 cup dark molasses* (80g)
1/2 cup honey (150g)
1 cup milk (235ml)
Pinch of salt

Mix everything together into a smooth batter. Heat the oven to 325F/160C, grease a 9 x 5 inch (23 x 13 cm) rectangular cake pan, pour the batter in, and bake on the middle rack. Check after 45 - 50 minutes to see if the cake is done - a toothpick in the middle should come out clean. If not, bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until done.

Cool on a rack, then wrap and store in plastic wrap for that extra sticky outside crust. Eat sliced with a lick of good butter.

*For readers in the UK and Australia, apparently molasses can be substituted with black treacle. I will be testing this next week, using Tate & Lyle's black treacle, just to make sure.  

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