Jewish Christmas Cookies

Jødekager

These cookies were developed by Jewish bakers in Copenhagen in the 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.

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.

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

Danish Jewish Christmas cookies - crisp thin cookies with a topping of almonds, sugar and cinnamon. Totally yummy!

  • Prep Time: 20m
  • Cook Time: 8m
  • Total Time: 2h

Ingredients

  • 250 grams flour and some more
  • 175 grams butter, cold
  • 125 grams brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ammonium bicarbonate or baking soda
  • 1 egg

Topping

  • 1 egg to brush the cookies with
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 50 grams chopped blanched almonds (at least)

Instructions

  1. Mix flour and ammonium bicarbonate
  2. Chop the flour and butter together - like you do for a pie crust.
  3. 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.
  4. Der skal højst sandsynligt mere mel i - det må ikke være meget klæbende.
  5. Put it somewhere cold until the dough is completely cool.
  6. Roll it thinly (3 mm) and use the cookie cutters to cut thin cookies - like with gingerbread cookies.
  7. Brush them with egg and add a topping of chopped almonds, sugar and cinnamon
  8. 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

A 1890 version of "jødekager" with spices and almonds inside the cookie rather than on top.

Ingredients

  • 350 grams butter, salted
  • 470 grams wheat flour, plus more for rolling the cookies
  • 235 grams brown sugar
  • 1 lemon, grated peel
  • 10 cardamom pods, grounded (remove the pods while grounding it)
  • 15 grams cinnamon, grounded
  • 30 grams bitter almonds
  • 90 grams almonds

Instructions

  1. Mix it together
  2. Roll out the dough, though not too thinly.
  3. Cut out the cookies using a glas or a cup.
  4. Brush them with egg yolk
  5. Bake them at good heat (I am guessing 200 C as with most cookies).

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

A 1890 version of "jødekager" with that visually looks a lot like the modern cookie but the cinnamon is missing.

Ingredients

  • 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

Topping

    Instructions

    1. Dissolve the ammonium bicarbonate in a bit of rosewater
    2. Mix it with flour, sugar, butter and brown sugar. Knead it well.
    3. Roll it out and cut out the cookies with a glass.
    4. Brush the cookies with egg and add half an almond in the center of each.
    5. Bake them. It doesn't say for how long or at what temp, but I am guessing 8 min at 200 C.

    If you are interested Madam Sif has more recipes at her blog, among them one from 1859.


    Leave a Reply