Christmas is coming! And you want to eat anise cookies for Christmas, don’t you? Of course you do! All right-minded people love springerle! Look at the Holy Father!
(If you don’t like the taste of anise, fennel, black licorice, and associated flavors, you can always make springerle with some other flavoring in the dough. Sigh. It isn’t right, mind you, but it will still taste pretty good.)
Anyway, these nice people who sell springerle molds also have made a nice springerle video, to instruct you in how to make these suckers. Not the same as my family’s methods, but probably fully acceptable. Being a busybody, I must blog some comments on it as I watch.
I have to say, our springerle rise more than that. It may be a hartshorn thing. (This recipe uses it. I don’t know if I’m that Jane Austen-y. By the time our recipe came over from Germany, our family was using baking powder.) No hartshorn in ours, so no cream or milk in ours. (Man, I’m thinking this lady’s cookies could actually spoil. Scary, scary.) And this whole concept of the hartshorn making the cookie dough inedible until baked… well, we don’t do inedible springerle dough in my family. Nooooo.
Let’s put it this way. Our family recipe makes 90-100 springerle. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten more than 70 to the baking stage, given that the cookies have to sit out overnight in a cool place while they rise. Hartshorn is not likely to happen. Ever.
This lady’s recipe also uses butter, which probably also is a significant gloomph factor. How the heck can you have puffy springy springerle if you’re practically making shortbread!!!? I guess the hartshorn must partially compensate, but… no. Not gonna happen here.
Also, this lady beats the eggs for twenty freakin’ minutes. Again… not a feature of any springerle recipe in our family. We aren’t making meringue, so we only beat ‘em for ten minutes. No six eggs, either. We use four.
It’s the pound of sugar that holds the pound of flour together, really. Which makes it really scary that this lady doesn’t use 2 cups of granulated sugar, but 6 cups of confectioner’s sugar. Crimony, how sweet of a cookie is this woman making!!?? I guess the extra sugar compensates for the unnecessary butter.
It’s not that I’m against salt. It’s just that I don’t see why an anise cookie would want any. No salt in our recipe….
Okay, she’s using 2 pounds of (cake) flour, so I guess 6 cups of sugar isn’t quite as bad as all that. I just don’t see how her beaters are going to be able to be strong enough, that’s all. One pound of flour and one pound of sugar is unbelievably stiff. But then, in proportion to this, six eggs is actually fewer eggs than we use. Huh. But we just use regular flour, not cake flour; so it really wouldn’t need as much strength… I don’t know about cakey cookies, though. Doesn’t sound very springerle-ish. Maybe the butter keeps the cake flour more under control, or something.
I can see right now that her dough isn’t as stiff when it’s done. We don’t have to work as hard with flouring the dough, either. You pretty much roll that sucker up with some flour like that, but she’s working a lot harder to stop the dough being sticky because it’s not as stiff. Heh.
You can roll that dough fairly thin with our recipe and molds, which is how you get ninety-some cookies out of a pound of flour. The thin cookies are going to rise and become thicker!
Our mold isn’t fine enough to worry about brushing flour onto it, though I can see how you’d get a good result with that. Our method is to make a little flour area and press the mold into it. Knock the extraneous flour out of the mold, press it into the dough, pull it back out, hit the flour again. Easy peasey.
Oh, man, that cutting technique with the shaper is cheating! But I don’t think it would work too well, really. You’d have to be so careful pulling each cookie out of the mass of dough. What you want is a sharp knife, and you don’t cut with it until after you’ve pressed the whole dough as full of cookie shapes as you can. Then you can fill up a cookie sheet to go out in that cool dry place (like the garage) without your nearest and dearest eating every cookie before the cookie sheet can be filled up, which is what would happen if I used a cutting shape like that. (I can see where the hartshorn/inedibility thing allows a certain bakerish freedom from worry about the chowdown factor, though….)
I’ve never used parchment to bake cookies in my life. But I guess it wouldn’t make much difference, unless the cooling/rising is affected beforehand. Awful lot of paper you’d use up, though. You don’t need to grease the cookie sheet, either, which is just as well since the cookies are going to sit out all night before baking. Sheesh, it’d get rancid.
Re: distortion of mold design — well, we have rectangular molds. Frankly, it’s not a problem if you know what you’re doing, and it’s not making the cookie look any less pretty if you do make a mistake and warp some lines.
The bird and the flowers actually look very reminiscent of our molds. No deer, though.
She’s working a little too hard with the pressing, I think. Must be the different dough consistency and greater thickness. You don’t really want to press so hard that the mold cuts through the flour and starts to pull on the actual dough, or you’ll be cleaning out molds a lot sooner than the end of the batch.
The pizza/pastry cutter idea is pretty cool.
The cookies should sit out allllll night. Seriously. Not kidding. At least ten or twelve hours. We usually finish about 9 or 10 PM and bake after breakfast, so you do the math. And don’t eat too many uncooked ones, or they’ll rise in your stomach and You’ll Be Sorry. (Not very sorry, but some.)
You can bake as many trays of cookies as fit in your oven, which is to say, generally two. There’s not really any difference, when you’re using our molds. These are not being baked at any high temperature or for very long.
She’s right about the cooling rack, but a lot of your cookies won’t get that far. They are good right out of the oven, and fully anise-y.
Whatever cookies have survived the Darwinist trial of rising/drying overnight and the trip to the cooling rack should indeed be packed into a tin, but not in rows with wax paper or anything. We always use round tins, and we pretty much just shove ‘em in. The important thing is to put a piece of bread on top, which will transfer moisture to the cookies as they start to harden up. Otherwise, you will have to soften up the cookies before you can eat them. If you remember to keep replacing the bread, they keep very well. They won’t, because people will eat them first unless threats or locks are used; but this is definitely the kind of cookie you could mail somebody without worrying if it would be stale when it got there.
So now, you have two different recipes and methods for making springerles, and I have spent hours blogging a ten-minute cookie video.
UPDATE: Another recipe from a very fun cook! She’s going with the lemon/anise version. She’s got 2 eggs, 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar, but only 2 cups normal flour. She’s also got a dough hook, so I’m really jealous. Interestingly, she cools the dough before she rolls it out. I guess that might help with the sticky of all that sugar with half the flour. I’m curious as to why the anise seeds don’t burn…. Her dough is much more like ours than the mold company lady’s, but they end up a liiiiiittle too flat. Probably the proportion differences.
So now you have three different ways to make them!