Vivi McGarian's mother's Pfefferkuchen (Peppercake) Christmas Baking with SusieJ

Measurements [metric]

  • 3 3/4 c flour
  • 1 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 2 1/3 c ground almonds
  • 6 1/2 oz candied lemon peel (mixed will do)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 c butter
  • small cup water
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0 oz ground cardamoms
  • 1/2 tsp Hartshorn(Baker's Ammonia, Ammonium Bicarbonate or Carbonate of Ammonia in English)
  • 0 oz Pottasche = Saltpetre (potassium nitrate) in English
  • 1 egg, beaten

Freshly ground spices really add something. If possible, grind them fresh just before use (pestle and mortar) and sieve them through a tea strainer to separate out the husks and big bits. I probably add a bit more of each than in the recipe. The quantities above are half of the original recipe, hence some funny numbers. I find it makes about 5 tray-fuls of biscuits. You can get the Hirschhornsalz and Pottasche in some specialist delis. (I get them from Germany, and the packets last ages). If stuck, try baking powder.

Mix the dry ingredients: flour, spices, candied peel and ground almonds. Heat the water, sugar, honey, and butter in a pan. Allow to cool a little, add the egg yolks, and while warm, mix into the flour mixture. Sprinkle some flour over, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to stand overnight. Divide into 3 portions; roll each out thickly. Cut into biscuit shapes (I use a mixture of round and gingerbread men shaped cutters.) (Optional) Paint the surface with beaten egg, and decorate with lemon or orange peel. Bake on a greased and floured baking tray at 180 degrees C for 12 minutes, or until a light golden colour. (Don't allow them to get too dark). Using a palette knife, transfer the biscuits onto a wire rack to cool.

Keep in an airtight tin.

Vivi's mother lived in Berlin before the second world war.