Dutch Letter

Just in time for Christmas, Randy & Katrina sample a popular pastry from Iowa’s Dutch community.

dutch letter

What is your dutch letter?

It’s also called a banket Letter, Almond Letter…or if you’re Dutch, you probably know it as banketstaven or letterbanket. If you’ve lived in Iowa – or even stopped at a gas station – you’ve probably seen, or at least heard of, a Dutch Letter, thanks to the traditional Dutch community of Pella, Iowa, that churns them out and popularized them around the state.

Although it’s popular year-round in Iowa – and available on a stick at the Iowa State Fair – this sugar-encrusted pastry tends to be baked and served most often during December in the Netherlands. It’s a flaky, buttery crust, wrapped around an almond-paste center that reminds one of marzipan.

The home cook would traditionally shape it into the first letter of your family surname, but the most popular letter is ‘S’ – probably because it’s easy. According to Wikipedia, Dutch letters were introduced in the United States by Dutch immigrants and originated in Pella, Iowa, which was founded in 1845 by “Dutch religious refugees,” where they’re a common treat at the annual tulip festival.

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