I realised today that this is my 300th post! It sometimes seems like I’ve only just started this blog, but then I look back at all those posts and realise just how much I’ve done. You forget a recipe or some special event, and then you see the post and it all comes back. Ah, memories!
Anyway, I promised a few days ago that I would try something from my new Dutch book of biscuits (which was a gift from Ria – thanks!). But which one should it be? I looked at several recipes, but in the end went for Utrechtse spritsen that my friend Sunshine had already spotted in my picture of the book. So that seemed about as good a way to start as any, and I decided to go with that one.
These are very rich butter biscuits which are named after Utrecht. It’s one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, blessed with lots of history and impressive architecture and beautiful canals. The name means “Utrecht shortbread” but from what I have been able to find out, the name originally comes from German spritzen (to spray) which makes sense when you know that the cookies are formed by squeezing the dough though a nozzle to get the distinctive ridges.
This was a new technique for me – you cream butter and a little egg, then add sugar, and finally work in the flour. The trick is to get a very light, smooth, soft dough that you can then squeeze through a star-shaped nozzle. You then make a wave pattern and bake. This leaves you with a long “strip” of cookie that can be easily cut while hot, but which hardens as it cools.
If you’re interested to see how to make them, there is a video here, but be warned that it’s only in Dutch. However, I think you get the idea of how to do it.
I found making these cookies quite easy, with two small wrinkles that it would have been nice to have known about before I started!
First, the mixture requires quite some muscles to squeeze the bag! The answer to this is probably to use a larger nozzle, but I did not have one to hand, so I just relied on sheer brute force. Also making sure that the dough is sufficiently light and smooth should make it easier to get spritsing.
Second, you need to cut the long strips of baked biscuit into pieces as soon as they come out of the oven. As soon as they come out. The biscuit starts to cool and harden very rapidly, and if you’re not quick enough, you get crumbly cuts instead of nice clean slices. This can be easily overcome by baking one long strip at a time, so that when it comes out of the oven, you can cut immediately with a very sharp knife.
The resulting biscuits are delicious – very simply, but perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. They’re about an inch wide and two inches long (3cm x 6cm) so they’re quite small, but I think that sometimes less is more. They’re the sort of biscuit you often get in a cafe with a cup of coffee – something small to nibble on. And when made yourself, they’re even better.
To make Utrechtse spritsen (makes approximately 30):
• 1/2 egg (30g), beaten
• 160g butter
• 100g light brown sugar
• 3g salt
• 15g vanilla sugar or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 250g plain flour
1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
2. In a bowl, beat the egg and butter until fluffy – keep beating, it will happen! Mix in the sugar, salt and vanilla sugar or extract and beat for another minute.
3. Add the flour and mix well – towards the end you might find it easiest to mix with your hands. The mixture should be quite soft and light.
4. Put a star nozzle into a piping bag. Fill with the dough, then start to pipe a wave pattern – but there should be no gaps in the strip of dough. If you find that the piping is not working well, just scrape off the baking sheet and put back into the piping bag and start again.
5. Bake the spritsen for around 15 minutes until golden brown (turn the sheet if necessary to ensure even colouring).
6. Remove from baked spritsen from the oven and immediately cut into 3cm (1.5 inch) pieces with a very sharp knife
18 responses to “Utrechtse Spritsen”
I love these cookies! I haven’t had them since the Dutch bakery nearby closed many years ago. I can’t wait to try baking some myself.
I think that baker did individual swirls so there wasn’t any cutting needed, but it has been a long time!
Funny you say that about the swirls – that’s how I’ve usually seen butter cookies done, and I did give it a try – you can just pipe the swirls individually if you prefer. I was just keen to try the pipe-bake-slice approach.
If you decide the make them, best of luck!
A cookie named for my beloved city? I may have to try this!
Do! Let me know if they work out. You can even watch the video 🙂
I’ve lived here in Utrecht for four years, but never really noticed the cookies specifically. Today, I walked past a local bakery and saw these cookies mentioned, right next to the shop’s specialty domtorentje chocolates. I’m trying to be a bit better about my eating right now, but I’ve got the recipe bookmarked.
Ha, that’s so funny! But I guess there are things you don’t see every day, then suddenly you see it everywhere. If you’re looking for something to bake that is a bit healthier (and butter-free) you might like these seed crackers.
Wow, they look just like the ones you’ll buy at the shop here. I’ll have to buy that book! (I have another book from Cees Holtkamp, it’s called ‘De Banketbakker’ (‘the pastry baker’) which is also great, with a lot of dutch apple pie recipes)
So thank you, now I’m craving for Spritsen… :S
A tip: you can also dip half of it in melted chocolate. Let them cool off before eating it.
I used to buy those when I was younger, they delicious! http://www.bakkersgemak.nl/shop/images/T/chocosprits.jpg
Thanks, I was pretty happy with how they turned out. And I really recommend the book – there are some really interesting ideas in there to try out. The chocolate idea is also a good one – I might do that next time. There is so much butter in there that I don’t think adding chocolate makes them much worse than they already are 🙂
Congrats on your 300th post! Tremendous effort. The shortbread looks very tempting. Would you say it was lighter than the Scottish shortbread?
Thanks Jacqueline! I was skimming through the past posts and I was struck by just how much stuff I have made over the last couple of years!
I think this is a little lighter than Scottish shortbread as the dough is much softer before you bake it. I also cut it into quite smalll pieces, so that may have made a difference too.
Congrats on 300, that’s quite a milestone. Beautiful little biscuits you made here and the video is very helpful, even if it is in Dutch.
Oh WOW. These just look soooo good! 😀 I can imagine them being light and crispy in the mouth. YUM. So glad I discovered your blog! Going to try this recipe over the weekend. Can’t wait!!
Thanks Lynnette. Best of luck with the recipe. Hope they work well. One of the other comments on here suggests that they would work well if they are half-dipped in chocolate which I think would be great too.
I’ve lived n or near Utrecht for 41 years and at last I now know how they get those typical patterns on the biscuits. They are delicious by the way for all those of you out there who’ve never had the pleasure
Happy that I was able to reveal just how the pattern is made! It’s quite a fun way to make biscuits rather than just using a cutter, actually rather easy provided you have the arm power to squeeze the dough through the nozzle.
Pingback: Foodie Share: Utrechtse Sprits « Best City Guide for Utrecht: Restaurants, Hotels, Hotspots, Shopping, Fashion and Lifestyle.
years ago, they sell in the US a blue tin can with the most awesome Dutch cookies! is this the same recipe?
Hi Nilsa – I’m really sorry, I couldn’t say! However…this is a traditional recipe that comes from a Dutch guru baker, so I guess it should certainly be authentic. Given this, hopefully it will live up to your memories! Do have a go – they’re very easy to make.