Friday, December 30, 2016

Springerle Cookies

Two things I love are good wooden cutting boards and beautiful wooden rolling pins. Clearly, it doesn't take a lot to make me happy. It all stems back to the gifts my Granny gave me before she died years ago. One was her cutting board that she didn't use for cutting, but working pie dough, and her wooden rolling pin, to roll out the pie dough. I cherish them both. Now, whenever I'm in a flea market or antique store, and come across an old wooden rolling pin, I just can't help but hold it and imagine the story behind it.

Last summer, my mom came to visit and I took her to Hermann, an adorable little German town nestled right beside the Missouri River. It's known for the wineries, but also the quaint little shops. It was in one of those shops, that I came across this rolling pin. I had never seen one like it before and thought it was so pretty.

There are tiny little nature themed molds with incredible details. My favorite was the little dragonfly below. I couldn't believe how unique it was. My mom bought it for me for an early birthday present and the shop owner carefully wrapped it in tissue paper, a plum colored gift bag, with a white piece of yarn wrapped around it. She wrote down the name of the cookies, "springerle" on a piece of paper and put it in the bag so I would remember what kind of cookies to make with it.

So when I started putting my baking list together for Christmas, I added springerle cookies to the list. They are a traditional German cookie/biscuit. Perfect. The ingredient list is easy, but does have an ingredient I've never used before - anise seed. If you're not familiar with it, it has the flavor of black licorice. Even more perfect. 

Here's the ingredient list. 

4 Large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons anise seed (OR 1 teaspoon anise extract)
4 cups all purpose flour. 

Now a little disclaimer.  I am making the amateur version of these. As in the recipe seemed somewhat technical - and well - I did the best I could. They turned out delicious although may not win the springerle cookie of the year award. Maybe next year. 

Here's how I made them. 

1.) Beat the eggs with electric mixer until light and fluffy. 

2.) Add sugar, butter, and baking powder to the eggs. Beat on high speed for 10 minutes (here's where I may have cheated. 5 minutes is the same as 10 minutes, right?)

3.) Add anise seed and then add in a little bit of flour at a time until it's all mixed in.

4.) Knead the dough on a floured surface until it's manageable. 

5.) With a normal rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 thick. 

6.) Now to get your springerle rolling pin ready... Lightly flour it, but be careful not to let too much flour get in the little crevices. You may need to brush out the excess. Remember that where there is flour, there will be no dough.

7.) Slowly and ever so carefully roll your springerle rolling pin over the dough. You will need to cut the cookies apart with a knife. Set aside the scraps and repeat the process. 

8.) Lay the cookies on a baking sheet. Most recipes say that at this point you let the cookies sit out on the counter from 12-36 hours. However, if you are like me, you don't make cookie dough just to let it sit on the counter. With a little research, I learned that the point of this step is to preserve the stamped image while they are baking. Since I was okay with an unpreserved image, I went ahead and baked them. They still turned out so pretty. 

9.) Whether you wait to bake, or just bake, put them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

And there you have it!

Notes: They are supposed to be golden brown on the bottom and white on the top. Also, apparently the longer you keep them stored, the better they are. Also, it's okay if they are crispy. I think that's all. 

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