These cookies were developed by Jewish bakers in Copenhagen in the early 1800’s at some point. They are part of the Danish Christmas cookie pantheon. If you ask most of my family they are the best part. There are many versions of this recipe, I have found a few for you. My family’s recipe as well as two from 1890 – they are quite different.
They became popular among the other new cookies when the wood stove was introduced in the second half og the 1800’s and it became possible to make cookies, in your own kitchen no less.
In my family the Jewish cookies has to be cut with cookie cutters, but many people just roll a stick and cut it thinly – but really where is the fun in that.
My mom’s version
This version is my family’s recipe but I have also found two old ones. I am not sure where my mom got it, but it is her recipe.
The cookies are really tasty but they are fiddlely to make. We always use cookie cutters for them but they are not actually very suitable for them, as the dough is kind of fragile. We tend to need to add more flour than the recipe calls for and it is a really good idea to keep the dough cool while working with it. You can just roll it to a thick sausage and cut 3 mm slices off it and add the topping. But my sister would not be happy with you.
Jewish Christmas Cookies
- 250 grams flour and some more
- 175 grams butter cold
- 125 grams brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ammonium bicarbonate or baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 egg to brush the cookies with
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon ground
- 50 grams almonds blanched & chopped
Mix flour and ammonium bicarbonate
Chop the flour and butter together - like you do for a pie crust.
Add the rest of the ingrediens and knead it together. You will probably need to add more flour. The dough shouldn't be very sticky.
The dough will need more flour than the recipe says. It should not be sticky or it will be very hard to work with.
Put it somewhere cold until the dough is completely cool. This will take a few hours
Roll it thinly (3 mm) and use the cookie cutters to cut thin cookies - like with gingerbread cookies.
Brush them with egg and add a topping of chopped almonds, sugar and cinnamon
Bake for about 8 minutes at 200 C in convection oven or 225 C in a regular oven. Or until the edges turn golden.
Madam Mangor’s recipes, 1890
And I have also found a version of the cakes in “Madam Mangor’s Kogebog” from 1890 where there are two recipes for “jødekager”. These doesn’t look to be what we today would think of as jødekager but rather a different cookie. Click on the individual recipes to read the original Danish recipe.
Jewish Christmas Cookies anno 1890 - 1
- 450 grams sugar
- 670 grams flour
- 335 grams brown sugar
- 1 lemon zest
- 15 cardamom pods
- 8 teaspons cinnamon
- 40 grams bitter almonds ground
- 130 grams almonds ground
- 1 egg yoke for brushing the cookies
Mix the ingredients and knead them together.
Roll out the dough with a bit of flour. Don’t roll them too thinly (I am guessing a 3-5 millimeters would be the right thickness)
Use a cup or a water glass as a cookie cutter
Brush with an egg yoke
Bake the cookies. Again there are no instructions on how long, but until they edges start to turn golden is a good rule with these kinds of cookies.
Source: Madam Mangor's Kogebog 1890
This recipe however is very close to the modern version of the cookie. Many people bake them in this shape with half an almond on top.
Jewish Christmas Cookies anno 1890 - 2
- 700 grams wheat flour
- 350 grams butter salted
- 230 grams brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ammonium bicarbonate or baking soda
- 1 tablespoon rosewater
- 1 egg yolk or egg white
- blanched almonds halved
Dissolve the ammonium bicarbonate in a bit of rosewater
Mix it with flour, sugar, butter and brown sugar. Knead it well.
Roll it out and use a water glass to cut the cookies.
Brush the cookies with egg and add half an almond in the center of each.
Bake them. It doesn't say for how long or at what temp, but I am guessing 8 min at 200 C.
Source: Madam Mangor's Kogebog, 1890
If you are interested Madam Sif has more recipes at her blog, among them one from 1859.