Frisian Dúmkes Recipe – “Thumb” Cookies with Anise

Anise is a pretty rare spice in baking. It’s not your staple spice like cinnamon or ginger. But I think it’s one of those spices that is actually pretty amazing once you get to know it. And why not get acquainted through these yummy Frisian cookies? 

In the Netherlands, anise isn’t that uncommon, perhaps because of its licorice-like flavor. Licorice is something we like to eat by the kilo basically, combined the Dutch eat 30 million (!) kilos of licorice a year. That works out to about 2 kilos a year. We really like our licorice.. You’ll find anise in some of our traditional food, like the sprinkles we serve on rusk when a baby is born called muisjes (“little mice”). It’s also part of the speculaas spice mixture. For me, anise equals the smell of a bakery. Growing up in Frisia, it’s difficult not to associate anise with a bakery as many of the Frisian specialities include anise, these cookies being one of the most iconic!
Dúmkes, or “little thumbs” are named after their size. A baker will use his or her thumb to determine the length and width of the cookie. You’re in luck if your baker has a wide thumb! But usually the cookies are quite small and delicate, making it the perfect accompaniment with a cup of (earl grey) tea. Try your hand (or rather thumb) at these mini cookies and get a taste of Frisia!

Frisian Dúmkes (Cookies with Anise)

Traditional thumb-sized cookies with hazelnuts and anise, perfect with a cup of earl grey tea!

Makes: 1 batch of thumb-sized cookies, how many depends on the size of your thumb! 

Prep time: 20 minutes + 20 minutes waiting time

Cooking time: 25 minutes 
Total time: 65 minutes


150 gr unsalted butter, slightly softened

150 gr dark brown sugar
2 medium eggs
250 gr all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
100 gr hazelnuts, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp aniseed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

1. Mix the butter and the sugar until combined, then add the eggs one at the time until well combined. 

2. Add flour and salt, knead to a dough.

3. Knead the hazelnuts, aniseed, cinnamon and ginger into the dough until well distributed. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to rest in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to firm up. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150C/300F.

4. Roll the dough into a 30x24cm/12x10inch rectangle on a lightly floured working surface. Divide the dough into 4cm/1 1/2inch strips and use your thumb as a guideline for cutting the width of the cookie. Place the cookies on a large, greased baking tray and place the tray in the oven. Bake cookies for about 25 minutes. The cookies should have a light brown color. Leave them to cool on a wire rack. Store the cookies in an airtight container.

Source: Lekker Frysk



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