Jan Hagel Cookies

Jan Hagel Cookies

Jan Hagel Cookies

(Dutch Almond Shortbread)

 

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A box of crisp and buttery Jan Hagel Cookies wrapped with a navy blue ribbon.

Who can say 2020 was a wonderful year?  I am thankful and happy to report that I can! What makes my year something special is searching for and finding my biological father. My year started with spitting into a test tube through Ancestry.  I’m excited to say the DNA test result matches were more than I expected.  Although they were not a direct match with my biological father, they were a 100% match with three of his close family members.  One message sent to my matches got the ball quickly rolling, and within two weeks I had my first contact with my biological father. His name is Bernie, and imagine his surprise, not knowing that I existed until now. How someone digests such a thing I cannot say, but what I found was a very welcoming, warm and sincere man who was “pleasantly surprised” to learn of me. What I also quickly learned was that Bernie is very much a family man with a family of four children. How cool, now I have more siblings!  Wait, not quite… not only was Bernie the man being searched for by an adopted child but also one who has adopted his own four children and over time has assisted them in finding some of their biological roots. So I have to say half-siblings in spirit but not biologically. But the interesting twists in my story don’t end here.  I was adopted by a family who live in the same small town as my biological family.  I went to the same high school his children did, shopped at the same stores and practically grew up right under his nose. Ooooh how small the world just became!

I have since had the pleasure to meet Bernie, his lovely wife Joan, most of his children, two aunts, and cousins. I also have a biological grandmother still gracing the earth at 92 years old, but sadly with our pandemic world I have not been able to meet her yet.  It’s truly hard to find the words to describe what an experience it all has been and continues to be, but I do know that time spent with Bernie and his family is very much a gift and I look forward to our continuing story.

A sheet pan of freshly baked Jan Hagel Cookies resting on a wire rack.

Now, on to the Dutch Jan Hagel cookies, also known as Dutch almond shortbread. As you’ve probably guessed I have learned that I am Dutch on my father’s side. My biological grandparents immigrated to Canada from Holland in 1949 on the vessel RMS Seythia. They settled in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada to farm and raise a family of seven children. I’ve been dabbling in several different Dutch recipes but these cookies are my favourite so far. Jan Hagel Cookies are crisp, buttery and very addictive. They are a traditional Dutch cookie often made at Christmas and will become part of my holiday baking line-up from now on. I’m excited to continue to experiment in Dutch cookery and hope to share more recipes as time goes. Till then, enjoy!

A box of crisp and buttery Jan Hagel Cookies wrapped with a navy blue ribbon.

Author Compelled to Cook, adapted from Jan Hagel Koekjes.

A box of crisp and buttery Jan Hagel Cookies wrapped with a navy blue ribbon.
Jan Hagel Cookies
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    1 10"x15" tray 20 minutes
    Cook Time
    20-22 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    1 10"x15" tray 20 minutes
    Cook Time
    20-22 minutes
    A box of crisp and buttery Jan Hagel Cookies wrapped with a navy blue ribbon.
    Jan Hagel Cookies
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      1 10"x15" tray 20 minutes
      Cook Time
      20-22 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      1 10"x15" tray 20 minutes
      Cook Time
      20-22 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: 10"x15" tray
      Instructions
      1. Preheat oven to 350°F and set oven rack to the middle position. Lightly butter a 10"x15" baking tray, set aside.
      2. Cream together butter and granulated sugar. Divide the egg and add the egg yolk, cinnamon, salt and almond extract. Beat to fully combine. Add flour and mix only until dough starts to come together.
      3. Press or roll dough evenly into prepared pan. Whisk egg white with 1 tbsp water. Brush evenly onto prepared dough. Sprinkle evenly with almonds and then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Just enough to create a nice sparkle.
      4. Bake for 20-22 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 3-5 minutes and then cut into squares or diamonds while the cookie is warm and soft. Once cut, allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. The cookies will firm up as they cool.
      Recipe Notes

      -coarse sugar is a larger crystal sugar that doesn't melt when baked so it keeps a sparkle on the goods it's sprinkled on. It may also be called pearl sugar, decorators sugar, sparkling sugar.

      -I get about 45 - 2" diamond shaped cookies, plus the best and crispiest half diamonds around the edges.

      -I've tried sliced almonds with and without the skin and both are good to use and is a matter of preference.

      -I find it just as easy to cut the squares instead of just scoring them while they are warm, but if you're having difficulty just score them and cut when cool.

      -cookies are best if eaten while fresh, however they will last in a sealed container at room temperature for several days. If freezing, allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container away from strong odours.

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      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
      Skillet Flatbread

      Skillet Flatbread

      Skillet Flatbread

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      Skillet Flatbread stacked three high on a wooden serving plate and garnished with zahtar.

      Do you have flour, yeast, oil and salt? It is all you need to make golden, slightly crisp and chewy Skillet Flatbread. The recipe is super easy without a lot of fuss, and the flatbread is delicious with just about anything. I like mine sprinkled with a zahtar spice mix but you can eat it plain, or with your favourite herb or spice mix. So get ready to dunk, dip and scoop all your tastiest soups, stews and tagines because you’ll be making this time and time again.

      Risen dough in a large bowl resting on a wooden platter in preparation for Skillet Flatbread.

      Any non-stick skillet will work for this recipe even though I’ve suggested using a cast-iron skillet. The dough is uncomplicated and can be pressed or rolled into any shape, however, I opted for 9” circles which cook evenly and quickly, and it fits nicely in my 10” skillet. This Skillet Flatbread will keep for several days in a sealed container but can also be frozen for use later. When thawed, give it a gentle warming in the microwave or low oven. Eating it at room temperature is perfectly tasty but I prefer it slightly warm. Enjoy!

      Skillet Flatbread cut into triangles and served on a wooden serving plate and garnished with zahtar.

      Skillet Flatbread
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        3 9" flatbreads 20-25 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        32 minutes 70 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        3 9" flatbreads 20-25 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        32 minutes 70 minutes
        Skillet Flatbread
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          3 9" flatbreads 20-25 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          32 minutes 70 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          3 9" flatbreads 20-25 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          32 minutes 70 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: 9" flatbreads
          Instructions
          1. Combine yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Allow fermenting for 10 minutes.
          2. Stir in 1 cup of flour, I tbsp olive oil and salt. Add another half a cup of flour and begin kneading. Knead until the flour is absorbed and continue adding flour by the tablespoon until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and is no longer sticky. I used 2 1/4 cups of flour in total. Knead until dough is smooth, about 7 minutes.
          3. Coat a large bowl with 1 tsp of olive oil. Form dough into a ball and place in the bowl, turn to coat in oil. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour.
          4. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Roll or press one dough portion into a 9" round. Drizzle 1 tsp of canola oil into the hot skillet. When the oil is hot add the prepared rolled dough. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed.
          5. While the flatbread is cooking roll the remaining dough portions into 9" rounds.
          6. Remove flatbread from skillet and drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with Zaatar if desired.

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          I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
          Easy Homemade Baguettes

          Easy Homemade Baguettes

          EASY HOMEMADE BAGUETTES

          Easy Homemade Baguettes stacked two high and one sliced with butter in the foreground.

           

          Homemade bread is easy!

           

          Glorious, chewy, crusty bread is at your fingertips with these Easy Homemade Baguettes. The recipe is credited to Dan Leader’s 4-hour Baguette and I’ve done little to alter the recipe other than reducing the amount of salt and put it in my own words. Many types of bread can be made within 4 hours, so you may be wondering why this recipe is anything special. A traditional French Baguette starts with some kind of “starter” usually consisting of a partial amount of the flour, water and yeast. This starter is left to ferment for many hours and often overnight, making it a lengthy process. The benefit of using a starter is to promote more flavour and a better texture. Dan Leader’s 4-hour Baguette is a wonderful recipe because it creates a similar result in much less time.

          Dough rising in a glass bowl for Easy Homemade Baguettes

          Dan Leader does this in a couple of ways. The first being the delayed addition of the salt. The salt is added after the dough has rested and hydrated. Salt inhibits yeast growth, so by adding it at a later stage allows the yeast to develop better, creating more flavour. The second is an additional rise after folding the dough. The folding helps to stretch out the gluten strands and therefore helps to create a nice texture. The additional rise also helps with yeast development and better flavour.

          Dough resting and rising on a wooden board with a bench scraper in the background.

          Adding ice to a hot pan placed below the baking rack will ensure a lovely crust on your baguettes by allowing the dough to rise fully before a crust forms.

          Food 52 calls this a genius recipe and I can see why. A few deliberate actions in the recipe saves a whole lot of time and produces wonderful results. If you love homemade bread, this recipe is a must try. Enjoy!

          Baguette dough rising in a metal baguette pan on a linen kitchen towel.

          Are you new to baking, wanting to improve your baking, or maybe you just want to make baking more convenient and fun?  Have you ever thought of creating a baking station?  The rather handy and informative Porch website has a great article on how to do just that.  It provides unique and inspiring ideas of how to create, organize and have fun with a baking station.  It’s a great idea and a good read How to Create the Ultimate Home Baking Station 

          Three Easy Homemade Baguettes are baked golden and resting on a wooden board with a linen kitchen towel.

          Three Easy Homemade Baguettes are baked golden and resting on a wooden board with a linen kitchen towel.
          Easy Homemade Baguettes
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            3 baguettes 4 hours
            Cook Time
            25 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            3 baguettes 4 hours
            Cook Time
            25 minutes
            Three Easy Homemade Baguettes are baked golden and resting on a wooden board with a linen kitchen towel.
            Easy Homemade Baguettes
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              3 baguettes 4 hours
              Cook Time
              25 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              3 baguettes 4 hours
              Cook Time
              25 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: baguettes
              Instructions
              1. In a large bowl stir together water and yeast and allow to ferment for about 10 minutes until foamy.
              2. Add 2 3/4 cups of flour and stir until moisture is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate.
              3. Flour your work surface with a sprinkle of the remaining flour. Dump out dough onto your work surface and sprinkle with salt and a tablespoon of flour to knead the dough without it being too sticky. Continue kneading the dough and adding flour by the tablespoon until dough is smooth but still a little tacky, about 8 minutes. Using a bench scraper to lift the dough off the counter helps until it becomes less sticky. The exact amount of flour is dependant on your working conditions and existing moisture in the flour you are using.
              4. Place dough in a large lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for 60 minutes until double in size.
              5. Remove dough to your work surface and using your fingers push and spread dough to remove air pockets and to shape into an approximate 8"x 6" rectangle. Fold the long sides of the dough into the centre and then fold the top and bottom into the centre. Place the folded dough back into the bowl, seam side down. Cover and allow to rise for 60 minutes.
              6. Preheat oven to 475℉ and place a heatproof pan or cast iron skillet on the rack below your centre baking rack. If using a baking stone, place it in the oven to preheat as well.
              7. Divide dough into 3 equal portions and roll each into an approximate 14" log. Allowing the dough to rest for 60-second pauses between rolling will help the dough relax and hold its shape when rolled. Place shaped logs onto a baguette pan. Alternatively, you can lay logs onto lightly floured parchment that sits on a rimless baking tray. Leave enough space between the logs to pinch the parchment and lift up, creating pleats between the logs. Place rolled kitchen towels on both ends of the parchment to provide support. Cover and allow to rise for 50 minutes.
              8. Using a sharp knife or bread lame, make at least four 4" slashes across each loaf. Add ice cubes to the hot pan in the oven and place baguettes on centre rack above. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and baguettes sound hollow when tapped. If using parchment, remove towels and pull parchment by the corners to flatten. Place pan in the oven as indicated above onto your preheated baking stone or simply on the middle rack if not using a stone.
              Recipe Notes

              -The exact amount of flour needed is dependent on many factors such as humidity and type of flour. Keep a small portion of flour aside and add by the tablespoon until the dough is smooth yet still tacky.  By all means, use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead the dough if desired.

              -Use an upside-down baking tray if you do not have a rimless one.

              -A baguette pan is an inexpensive investment that allows the loaves to brown evenly on all sides.

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              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
              Everyday Lunch Buns

              Everyday Lunch Buns

              Everyday Lunch Buns are just that, used everyday, almost! Since I’m a shift worker who packs up to 4 meals a day when including my husband, I need a reliable go to option for our everyday lunches. While I will generally take frozen leftovers for my main meals, my husband does’t always have the luxury of a microwave or a way to heat frozen meals. That’s one of the reasons a cold lunch is best for him. The other is because he likes to run errands over his lunch and is often driving while eating…..I know, distracted driver for sure!! For these reasons I make bread and buns regularly, and my go to recipe is tender, yet sturdy enough to fill will shaved meats or tuna salad. They’re also made with multigrain cereal and whole wheat flour for added fibre and nutrition.

              I believe these buns are the reason I got a new 7quart, 1.3HP KitchenAid Stand mixer for Christmas this year. I can now make multiple batches at once, it’s fantastic to say the least. This recipe also falls into a new, fun category called “Mark’s top ten”. My husband’s favourite recipes, some of which are not mine in their entirety but HIS favourites. You’ll see them make an appearance every so often, for fun and good food to eat if nothing else.

              You’ll notice that I use a dry multigrain cereal as apposed to multigrain flour. As USUAL, I cannot always find multigrain flour in my community, so I took matters into my own hands and decided to add my own multigrain mix from dry cereal. The solution really works well, as I cook a pot of cereal, allow it to cool, then wrap and freeze in individual portions for future use. No more hunting for the flour, just grab a little bundle from the freezer when getting ready to make a batch of buns. I believe it’s also a cheaper option than the flour as well. It’s one more step to the recipe, however if you make bread and buns often, it’s a great way to do it. Enjoy!

              Recipe source for Everyday Lunch Buns:  Compelled To Cook

              Everyday Lunch Buns
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                12 Buns 30 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                23-25 minutes 1 3/4-2 hours
                Servings Prep Time
                12 Buns 30 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                23-25 minutes 1 3/4-2 hours
                Everyday Lunch Buns
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  12 Buns 30 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  23-25 minutes 1 3/4-2 hours
                  Servings Prep Time
                  12 Buns 30 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  23-25 minutes 1 3/4-2 hours
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: Buns
                  Instructions
                  1. In a small sauce pan combine dry cereal and 2/3 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately 5 minutes until visible moisture is gone. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to 95-110℉
                  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together buttermilk, 1/2 cup water, honey and yeast. Allow to ferment for 5-6 minutes until frothy. Add whole wheat flour, 1 cup bread flour, cooked cereal, butter and salt. Stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup bread flour and begin kneading until flour is absorbed. Continue adding bread flour by the 1/4 cup until dough is supple and pulls away from the bowl, approximately 7-9 minutes.
                  3. Grease a large bowl with oil or non stick spray. Remove dough from mixer and form into a ball, placing into greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm draft free area until double in size, 60-80 minutes.
                  4. Line a large baking tray with parchment. Remove dough from bowl and knead 3-4 times to remove air. Weight out dough into 12 equal size portions of approximately 85grams. Arrange dough balls with even spacing 4x3 on baking sheet. Cover with greased plastic wrap or kitchen towel and allow to rise until puffed and double in size, approximately 45 minutes.
                  5. Preheat oven to 400℉. Bake buns for 18-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and slide buns onto cooling rack. Brush with melted butter if desired. Allow to cool to room temperature.