These cookies have a special place in Amana folk culture! Be sure to read the note below the recipe to find out why!

Fenceriegel – Fencelatch Cookies

2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup vegetable shortening
¾ cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar added to ¾ cup milk)
1 egg white (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine flour, soda, and salt. Add brown sugar and cut in vegetable shortening as you would a piecrust. Add buttermilk or sour milk to form a soft dough. (to sour milk: 1 hour before preparation time, add vinegar to milk and stir. Set aside until ready to prepare the dough.)

Roll out dough on lightly floured board to ½-inch thickness. Using a fluted pastry cutter, or Rädel as they were called in the communal kitchen, cut dough into 2-inch squares, diamonds, or any shape and size desired. On greased cookie sheets, bake at 350° for about 10 minutes. If desired, brush tops of cookies with egg white just before baking.

Makes about 3 to 4 dozen cookies.

Emily Roemig, Amana

Note: Although not considered a Christmas cookie, Fenceriegel occupy a special place in Amana folk culture as the one cookie baked only in the village of Amana. This not-too-sweet brown sugar cookie was a Hertel Kitchen House tradition and Emily Roemig, who trained in the Hertel Kitchen House, remembers Küchebaas Ida Hertel pulling trays of hot Fenceriegel from the oven. Mrs. Roemig, a colony cook who loves preparing the traditional dishes, still makes these cookies for her family.

This recipe comes from the cookbook Seasons of Plenty: Amana Communal Cooking and was posted with permission of author Emilie Hoppe. Learn more about the book and how to purchase it.