With christmas time – besides other things – I associate the following situation: I’m coming back to my parent’s home from the cold snowy outside, putting on my knitted socks, leaning my back to the tiled stove and warming my stiff cold fingers with a cup of hot tea. In between taking sips of the hot tea, I am dipping my Springerle cookie into it, let it soak and take a bite. Finally the fingers have warmed, the stomach as well, the bottom of the cup is covered with soaked cookie crumbs and there is nothing but comfort and cosiness.
If you want to enjoy Springerle on christmas, you should start baking them now, cause (similar to Stollen) it takes 2-3 weeks until they’re at their hight.
Springerle are iconic – they are are probably the most typical Swabian christmas cookies. Besides “Spitzbuba”, “Vanillekipferl” and “Butter-S” they are absolutely obligatory on a Swabian cookie plate. But although they’re very traditional, opinions about them differ widely. The reason? Aniseed, the only spice that is used for these cookies, but this generously. It’s essential, and polarizing. I guess you love it or you hate it. Besides aniseed there’s only eggs, flour, sugar – the most basic ingredients create those beautiful cookies.
They’re probably called Springele cause – when everything went right – they “jump” (ger: springen) during the baking process, thereby getting their famous “Füßle” (little feet). Resting time for the dough is the best guarantee for the Springerle to rise. But there’s still a bit of thrill when you put the baking tray into the oven. Will it work?
Besides their rich anise flavour, Springerle are characterised by their patterned top that is traditionally created with special moulds (or engraved rolling pins), the “Springerle-Model”. Those moulds and the (hi)stories they tell in their pictures, are a fascinating science in itself. They are the treasures of a family that are handed down from generation to generation. If you haven’t inherited such moulds, you can as well use use a cookie stamp, simply the bottom of drinking glass or – like me – modern engraved rolling pins.
Springerle – Aniseed sugar cookies
4 eggs, 450 g powdered sugar, 500 g flour, 1 knife point salts of hartshorn, pinch of salt, 3-4 tablespoons aniseeds
+ some butter for brushing the sheets, + more flour for rolling out the dough
Beat eggs creamy. Add powdered sugar step by step and beat for 10-15 minutes. Mix under flour, hartshorn and salt, again step by step. At this point the consistence of the dough is quite soft and you may not be able to bring it into ball shape. But don’t panic. Time will do: Transfer dough to the fridge and chill for 24 hours, at least over night.
After 24 hours line 2 baking trays with paper, thinly brush with butter and sprinkle with aniseeds (If you have only one tray, like me, you have to work in two batches). Remove dough from fridge. Roll out on a generously dusted working surface, about 7-10 mm thick. Now add the pattern (see notes above). Important: The surface of the dough, as well as the rolling pin or stamp should be dusted in flour. It’s not only for practical reasons, but also for the nice white surface (See my first batch with the flower pattern on the pictures? – I didn’t flour properly.) Cut the patterned dough into cookies in your preferred shape (depending on the pattern) and transfer to the baking trays. Cover each tray with a kitchen towel and let dry for another 24 hours.
After 24 hours preheat oven to 140° C. When preheated bake Springerle for 25-30 minutes. The should stay white on top, so you may need to cover them with parchement paper for the last 10 minutes, depending on your oven. And hopefully they get “Füßle”… Dust off excessive flour on top and let fully cool out on a wire rack.
After baking the Springerle get quite hard. The should be stored for about 2-3 weeks until they’ve reached the perfect texture, best in a cookie tin together with some apple slices (for humidity).