Springerle (Pressed anise cookies) Christmas Baking with SusieJ

Measurements [metric]

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 c sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 5 to 6 c flour
  • anise seeds

The first day

Note: Do not double this recipe

In a large (at least 4 1/2 quart) bowl, beat eggs very light. Gradually beat in sugar, keep on beating, by hand one hour, one-half hour by mixer. Mix baking powder with flour, gently mix that in by hand. Make a stiff dough. Let it rest two hours in the refrigerator.

Grease three cookie trays and sprinkle with anise seeds. The anise seeds give the cookies their flavor. Roll out small portions to about 1/2 inch thick on a well-floured board. Dust the Springerle mold with flour and press it into the dough. Cut out with a sharp knife and set on cookie sheet. You will need to clean your knife off occasionally as it gets sticky. Let cookies stand, covered with a clean cloth, at least 24 hours.

The next day

Bake in a 350 degree oven one tin at a time until white on top, about 10 to 15 minutes.

[Springerle photo collage:      Baked rectangular Springerle in an antique tin; dough after folding in      flour; cookies on the baking sheet after molding; toddler plaing with      cookie stamps and playdough; close up of baked cookies and molds.      Copyright Susan J. Talbutt, all rights reserved.]

These are my mother's and husband's favorite and the Christmas baking rises and falls (pardon the pun) on the success of the springerle. In my family, every other cookie can be picture perfect (and for my aunts, usually is), but if the springerle fail, it wasn't a good year. Do the tops crack? Do they rise unevenly? Does the oven door fall off onto the cookie sheet that's ready for the oven? Does the mixer motor burn out? If there is time to bake only one cookie, it must be the Springerle. The name Springerle comes from an old German dialect and means "little knight," probably because of the pictures of knights on the cookies. According to Mimi Sherton's Visions of Sugarplums: A Cookbook of Cakes, Cookies, Candies & Confections from all the Countries That Celebrate Christmas, the poor would offer cookies stamped with pictures in place of more expensive sacrifices. This is an old recipe, probably similar to my great-grandmother's. Great-granma had great-granpa beat the dough the requisite hour by hand, and he spent most of the time asking, "Is it done yet?"