The Wait Is Just Beginning: Springerle

At the height of summer, I purchased some baker's ammonia from King Arthur Flour, and I have been trying to find new uses for it since. I soon learned that baker's ammonia is a key ingredient in springerle cookies, but I also read that it is inadvisable to make spingerle in humid weather. So, I have been waiting for months for the crisp, dry weather of autumn to arrive, and it's finally here!

Springerle are dry, cake-like German cookies that are imprinted with molds and traditionally flavored with anise. I purchased some springerle molds from House on the Hill, and also used a recipe that was included with my order, which is available here. In addition, I watched this video demonstrating the recipe before I set out to give it a try.

The recipe method is a bit unusual. After you beat room temperature eggs for 10-20 minutes, you beat in powdered sugar, softened butter, baker's ammonia that has been dissolved in milk, salt, flavoring, and cake flour. Since I am not really a fan of anise, I made my springerle lemon flavored by using Boyajian lemon oil (I used 4 teaspoons, which was the amount specified for citrus oils in the version of the recipe I received with my molds). After the dough comes together, you knead it with flour until it's no longer sticky, roll it out, print it with the molds, cut out the cookies, and leave the cookies out to dry for 24 hours before baking.

The mold I used for my cookies was "Bird on a Branch," which is fairly large with an image almost four inches in diameter. It took a bit of practice to get the printing technique down, but after a few tries, I was able to get cookies with clean impressions. I got only 18 cookies from my batch of dough, and after I let them dry for 24 hours, I baked them for 25 minutes at 300 degrees.

I thought the cookies looked a little plain, so I painted the birds on some of the cookies with gold luster dust dissolved in alcohol. I loved the way these cookies tasted -- a strong clean lemon flavor, with a firm, cakey consistency. I understand that springerle can be stored for weeks and are supposed to improve with time, but I thought they tasted wonderful right after baking. However, I'm going to stash some away and see how they taste in December -- I think they will be worth the wait!

Recipe: "Nini's Perfection Springerle Cookies," from House on the Hill.


Louise said…
I'll have to try this recipe. I'm curious about the cookies being edible right away as the ones I make take about six weeks to soften, but then they keep quite a long time. My springerle board is over a hundred years old.
Louise, since this is my first attempt making (or even tasting) springerle, I have to confess complete ignorance about the aging process -- is it just the texture of the cookie that changes with time, or also the flavor? Is your recipe significantly different than the one I used?
Louise said…
My great grandmother brought my springerle board when she came to the United States around 1900 and I'm pretty sure it wasn't new then. :-) I've always thought of springerle as more decorative than edible, but certainly eat some as tradition. I have quite a few recipes, but the standout difference is that none of them call for any butter, except for a recipe by Dede Wilson. The only fat in the cookies is from the egg yolks. All the recipes I have either use baking powder or soda, never baker's ammonia. And never salt. Some use cake flour, some use all-purpose. Some use confectioner's sugar, some granulated, some a mix of both. Some don't use anise extract, but just bake the cookies on a bed of anise seed. So you can see the recipes are highly variable. Spingerle, as I know them, come out of the oven as bricks and take several weeks to mellow to something you can eat. The texture becomes something similar to a shortbread and the flavor has just a hint of anise. Here's Rose Beranbaum's ingredient list -- 4-1/4 c (1#, 5 oz) flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 4 large eggs, 2 c (14 oz) sugar, 1 1/2 tsp anise extract. She starts them at 350 and immediately lowers the temp to 300.
Like I said, I'll try Nini's recipe, maybe very soon. I'm having trouble grasping that Thanksgiving is next week and my Christmas baking will have to start about two weeks after that.
Jess said…
How do they taste in dec? :)
Jess -- funny you should ask, Tom and I just took them out of storage to take a taste... I'll post an update this weekend!
Lisa said…
Your use of gold is lovely.

(I'll admit that the iridescent sprinkle dust I'd seen elsewhere looked like snail slime.)

We do springerle cookies every few years, and had great success this time around.
linda said…
Your springerle are just beautiful. They are traditional for my husband's family and now, we carry it on.....
this year we taught a friend, and now it is a part of her family tradition. That's what I love about baking......

Our cookies come out soft and get hard as they age.
If you put a piece of fresh bread in with the cookies, it helps keep them soft.