Dutch Letters – Why an “S”?

Dutch Letters are probably one of the top treats in my book. Just typing that makes me hungry for one. And it’s been a while since I’ve had one. So why are these pastries in the shape of an “S”. Why not a “N” for Netherlands? Well, here you go:

These pastries, called banketstaven or letterbanket in the Netherlands, feature almond paste inside a puff pastry made with flour, eggs and butter. These sugar-coated treats usually come shaped like the letter “S” for Sinterklaasavond, the Dutch name for the night of gift-giving from Saint Nicolas. In the Netherlands, the holiday is much like Christmas, but celebrated with gifts on Dec. 5 or 6. Dutch immigrants who landed in Pella in 1845 brought the tradition to Iowa.

So now that we have solved that, where is the best place to get a Dutch Letter? Sure you can take the easy route and just go to Hy-Vee to get their brand or sometimes Vander Ploeg, but the real fun involves driving to Pella to get the good stuff. That means a trip to Jaarsma Bakery. Yes, this is where you will find the absolute best Dutch Letter in Central Iowa! I have to admit, one time at the Pella Tulip Festival there was such a long line at Jaarsma out the door that I went to Vander Ploeg Bakery just a couple stores down. Yes, there’s was good, but it was not Jaarsma! Trust me, if you are a fan of Dutch Letters, or never tried one, head to Jaarsma Bakery in Pella for the treat of a lifetime!

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