My hometown of Winnipeg is known for its baking. If you ever attend a wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, or other simcha (celebration) in Winnipeg, at some point in the evening, usually after an hour or two of dancing, you’ll see the caterers setting up a dessert buffet. The tables will be filled with cakes and tortes, decedent bite-sized pastries, lots of fresh fruit, and what we call dry-baking. Kichel (or Nothings as we call them here) are almost always included in the dry-baking.
Kichel are crisp, light, and dry cookies made with very few ingredients. They’re the perfect cookie to have with a cup of tea (or coffee).
The dough is quite sticky when it’s ready to go and the best way to form them is to use a small ice cream scoop (or two spoons) and drop the batter into a tray of coarse sugar or sesame seeds, rolling the dough in the sugar/seeds before shaping.
When you make the batter, it’s important to follow the times listed for beating the eggs/oil/sugar and then after you’ve added the flour/salt. This process will make them puff up when baking.
Once they’re cooled, Kichel freeze well. Keep them in an air-tight container or freezer bags. They’re humble cookies, but delicious and traditional.
This recipe comes from my cookbook, Pam’s Cookie Collection.
Kichel / Nothings
These traditional cookies are a favourite when we cater and we have a hard time keeping up with the demand out of the store. Though they’re perhaps a little rough-looking, they’re delicious.
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup canola oil or other light vegetable oil
- 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar (1 1/2 oz / 42 grams)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (7 1/2 oz / 212 grams)
- 2/3 cups sanding sugar (coarse) or sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF / 190°C.
- Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to beat the eggs, oil and sugar. Start the machine on low until just combined, then slowly raise the speed to high and beat for 4- 5 minutes, until the mixture is light and very frothy
- Add the salt and flour, mixing on low until combined, then increase to high and beat for another 5-6 minutes, until sticky and very elastic. You should stop the machine a couple of times to scrape the sides down with a spatula.
- Spread the coarse sugar or sesame seeds on a plate or a shallow dish and use a 1-ounce scoop or two spoons to portion the dough and drop it right into the coarse sugar. Roll the dough around in the sugar until it’s evenly coated. Roll each ball of dough between your palms to form a log, then twist the log in the middle and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Leave plenty of room between the cookies. Try to fit all of the cookies onto two trays.
- Place both trays in the oven at the same time and bake for 8 minutes. Switch the two trays around and bake for another 8 minutes or until the cookies have puffed up and are starting to brown.
- Turn the oven off without opening the door, and leave the cookies in the oven for 45 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown and dry all the way through when you break one in half. You can check the cookies after 30 minutes — if they are getting too brown take them out of the oven.
- These freeze well.