Dutch Quirk #40 Never agreeing on how to eat tompouce

HomeCultureFoodDutch Quirk #40 Never agreeing on how to eat tompouce

Ah, the tompouce. Some may say this pastry looks like a cake made by children, for children. But don’t underestimate this fragile square of vanilla cream — it’s royalty in the Netherlands.  

Okay, maybe it’s not exactly royalty but it is indeed eaten on koningsdag (King’s Day) to celebrate the King’s birthday. And just like royalty, it shows up at all the important events of the year:

You’ll see orange tompouces for King’s Day, pink tompouces with heart-shaped sprinkles for Valentine’s Day, spider-web glazed tompouces for Halloween — you get the picture.

However, one thing you won’t see is Dutchies agreeing on how to eat it.

What is it?

The tompouce is a four by 10 centimetres (yes, precisely) pastry consisting of vanilla cream enclosed by two puff pastry slices, topped with colourful frosting.

It’s similar to what other countries call a Napoleon cake but the tompouce has a much longer history.

The legend goes that an Amsterdam pastry chef named the tompouce in 1858 after seeing a little person called Tom Pouce perform at a circus event in Friesland. Is it true? We’re not quite convinced — but we can’t exactly ask him so let’s roll with the folklore. 🤷‍♀️

Why do they do it?

Traditionally, Dutchies eat orange-glazed (duh) tompouce on King’s Day, but the treat tastes just as good and is almost equally popular around the year. 😍

They’re associated with the royal celebration because the Dutch royals eat tompouce when a new baby is born — rather than the biscuits with muisjes of commoners.

Why is it quirky? 

The pastry itself is not necessarily quirky, but the way it’s eaten is. 👀 Tompouces are fragile things — the puff pastry dough not quite firm enough to cut into, the cream filling soft enough to go everywhere if you attempt to bite it. So how do you eat it?

In the Netherlands, there are largely four (more or less) accepted ways to eat your tompouce.

  1. ✌ Take the top slice of puff pastry of the cake and place it on the bottom. Now you can bite into it without the cream getting smushed out between the layers.
  2. 🍴 Smush it with a fork — it’s all going the same place anyways!
  3. 👯‍♀️ Split the tompouce in two on the horizontal side. This way you get equal amount of cream with each slice of pastry.
  4. 🙊 Just bit into it. This’ll likely be messy.

Should you join in?

Sure! If you like sweet things, tompouces are delicious! Plus, you’re not properly integrated until you’ve struggled (and maybe succeeded, but definitely laughed) eating one of them. 😂 

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

👉 Want more Dutch quirks? We have the ultimate list! 

Feature Image: sara_winter/Depositphotos

Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
A Dane with a special place in her heart for Minnesota, Christine is now falling in love with everything Dutch. Between finishing her bachelor’s degree, learning Dutch, and doing yoga teacher training, you will find her wandering about the Hague. Always up for visiting new places, she loves to explore the Netherlands with friends and takes pride in scoping out cute cafés (wherein to discuss books, big plans, and food).

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Christine, Lifelong Minnesotan here. When we were last in The Netherlands, we had an almond layer cake that was melt in your mouth delicious. Tried to make it here, but the texture was too coarse. Have you had it? Recipe?
    Also, don’t forget to have a Bossche Bollen if you get to den Bossche. Yum!

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