I’ve talked about our tradition of making Springerle Cookies for the Christmas holidays, but we also enjoy making these favorite cookies for other times of the year. Valentine’s day is one of those times. With hearts and flowers, a bit of red food coloring, and raspberry flavor we have a beautiful specialty to say romance.
6 whole eggs 6 c. powdered sugar 1 stick butter, softened 1 tsp. flavoring ½ t. baking powder 1 ½ – 2 lb. Flour *optional: grated rind of lemon (nice with anise or lemon)
Beat eggs in mixing bowl till they thicken a bit and turn lemon colored (about 5 min). Meanwhile measure out 6 cups of sugar into another bowl. Add gradually to beaten eggs. Mix well; add stick of softened butter. Mix well, add flavoring of your choice, including citrus peel if adding. Mix well. Measure out about one pound of flour and whisk with the baking powder. Gradually add flour to batter until well incorporated., continue to add flour until consistency feels right; not too dry and not too sticky. The best way to learn this is by repetition! It should stick to your fingers but not too much. When you’ve reached the right consistency, you can roll it out, rub a bit of flour into the surface and it feels pretty smooth. Roll out to about ¼-3/8” thick. This depends on how thick you want your cookies and how deep your mold. Flour your mold and press your mold into the dough. If you are using a springerle rolling pin (you will want your dough on the thicker side if using a rolling pin) flour the whole rolling pin, and using even pressure roll across the already rolled out dough, molding the patterns as you go. Cut out each cookie after molding it, regardless of which style of molding used. Place cookies on a greased or lined baking sheet.
Let the cookies set up for at least 24 hours before baking. Lay wax or parchment paper over the trays and place the loaded baking sheets on an out of the way table or counter. After the resting period, bake springerle cookies in a 225-300 degree oven for about 15-25 minutes depending on the temperature used. (225d. for 20 min.; 250d. for 18 min.; 300d. for 15 min.) The cookies should be just starting to show signs of changing color on the edges, and solid underneath. Let cookies cool slightly, and remove them to cooling racks until completely cooled. Store in an airtight container and enjoy! This recipe can yield up to 3 – 12 dozen depending on the size of the cookie. Until you have practiced, try halving the recipe.
This recipe courtesy of the Springerle House; www.springerlehouse.com Please take a look at our store (under specials tab) to see the vintage Springerle rolling pins and boards we have available for purchase.
Tradition #4 Deck the Halls! If you have visited us during December you know we like Christmas and decorating the inn might just be an understatement. It’s the time of year when we all get out our special, once-a-year treasures; our family ornaments, fine china, and other types of festive decorations. At the James Manning House you will find a bit of merriment in every room.
Welcome to each guest room and enjoy a jolly little tree. Perhaps you will remember some of the vintage ornaments and dream of Christmases past. Twinkling lights adorn the staircase adding a warm glow to the hall. Did you see the old Shiny Brite glass ornaments hanging from the greens? The living room tree sparkles with antique ornaments of all sizes and shapes, indents and mercury, beaded and Venetian dew. Some of these are from Germany and some from the early 20th century. This is my favorite of nine decorated trees in the house. I enjoy seeing all those beautiful colors, and fourth generation hand-me-downs. I hope they survive several more generations giving joy to the holiday season for years to come.
When I think of our Christmas heirlooms my mind is focused on a very special Nativity Set. This set has beautifully hand-painted ceramic figures. The three wise men and camel even have some gold trim and jewels. What really makes this crèche special to me is the story. My aunt glazed and fired all the pieces and gave the set to my parents as a wedding gift in 1946. The pieces are still in mint condition and I have set them up every year to tell the story of the birth of the Christ child since I was a young girl.
Entering the house you will encounter that magical belief; “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”. And another Santa Claus and another, and another, in fact three years ago there were at least 350! (Of course none disappeared and more are added and I don’t think it’s cheating to count the ornaments on the Santa tree.) Some are elaborately dressed, some made of wood, or metal, or glass, mink, beeswax, and so many more combinations. There are some dressed in red, or green, there’s even a purple Claus. I can’t imagine just how this special elf started to fill our rooms but now the tradition is there and there always seems to be a place to display a new addition.
Tradition #3 is Baking Springerle. These traditional anise-flavored German Christmas cookies deserve their own spot on our list of holiday traditions. On Warren’s mother’s side of the family they are the all-time favorite. Gather the family and bring a container of Springerle and you will see eyes light up and lips licked for a taste of Grandmom Ruth’s specialty, for you see the tradition has almost died out with only Warren and a cousin still making the treat.
By definition, Springerle are white, anise-flavored cookies, made from a simple egg-flour-sugar dough. Usually rectangular or circular in shape, they have a picture or design stamped on the top. The images are imprinted with specially carved rolling pins or flat molds (Springerle presses, or boards). Warren has been collecting these molds for over ten years. His great-grandmother’s rolling pin is proudly displayed in our kitchen and was given to her by her husband as a gift brought from Germany in the late 1800’s. The history of Springerle dates back into the 15th century and started to honor church holy days. Many of the impressions on the molds are religious, but in more recent history depict animals, flowers and the modern resin molds even have decorations for holidays such as Halloween.
Most times these cookies are baked for Christmas, as a special treat as the process is time consuming. After all in the cookie’s history they were used much as we send Christmas cards today. Over 40 years ago I was introduced to making these embossed gems. Warren’s grandmother taught me, using her recipe (Written in handfuls and pounds instead of cups and teaspoons! At least it was English) and all beat and mixed by hand. The traditional leavening agent in the cookies is Hartshorn, or baker’s ammonia. This is what makes the cookies “spring up” when baking. After pressing the design into the cookies they must rest for 24 hours to set the pattern in order to hold it during baking. Because these cookies have no fat in them they dry out and harden even if sealed tightly, but hardcore Springerle fans will just dunk the cookie and enjoy!