Flavored with anise and embossed with a variety of designs, these edible works of art were historically made for religious holidays and other special occasions. They remain wildly popular at the Christkindlmarkts (outdoor Christmas Markets) in Europe. Springerle are a very low-moisture cookie made without any butter, lard, or shortening. When first baked, they are chewy like a sugar cookies. After being stored in covered tins for several weeks of "aging", they become harder as their flavor and texture develops. At this point they are traditionally eaten with and dunked in a hot beverage.
4-1/2 large eggs at room temperature (To measure half an egg, beat an egg and use half of the volume.)
- 3-1/2 c powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. anise oil
- 3-3/4 c cake flour
Using a standing mixer with a whip attachment, beat the eggs well until doubled in size with a light and foamy texture, about 8 minutes. This step is very important as there is no added leavener in this recipe.
On low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar until incorporated.
Add the flavoring oil of your choice.
Using a flat paddle attachment, gradually blend in the flour on low speed.
Cover the bowl with a clean damp kitchen towel and let it rest for 1/2 hour.
Take out about 1/4 of the dough and keep the rest in the bowl covered with the damp towel. It's important to keep the unused dough covered so it doesn't dry out.
If the dough is too sticky, knead in a bit more flour. The amount of flour needed will vary depending on the humidity that day.
Roll out on a well floured surface to 8 mm (or thicker for deeper molds) thick using dough guides
Dust the rolled dough with flour and lightly dust your springerle mold with flour. A pastry brush is very helpful for this step.
Press the dusted mold straight down into the dough until the mold cavity is filled, and remove. Cut out the molded dough with a cookie cutter, knife, or pastry cutter. Place a on parchment lined baking sheet. Put similar sized cookies on the same sheet for even baking.
Dry the top surface of the molded cookies at room temperature. Do not dry them on a baking rack as the bottoms must stay moist. Drying time can vary from 8-12 hours up to 24-36 hours for very humid conditions or thicker/larger diameter (7" or more) cookies. You know they are ready to bake when you turn them over and see a light "ring" about 1/4" around the edge.
Once the cookie tops have dried, very gently brush off any extra flour with your pastry brush.
Bake at approx. 300ºF on the bottom rack of the oven.
Time and temperature will vary--all ovens are different. You will need to experiment a bit. Small cookies (2.5" dia.) may be done in 12-14 minutes at 300°F while larger cookies need to bake longer at a lower temperature (285°F).
Watch them carefully. They are done when the bottoms are light golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack before storing in tightly covered tins.