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Hello and Welcome! I decided to start this blog for everyone out there who has an interest, or WANTS to be interested, in living a life that is a little more sustainable. I am still learning, and invite you to follow this blog to learn along with me. I will share what I have learned as we go, and hopefully you will pitch in and share what YOU are doing to live a little more off of what you can grow and DO from home. PLEASE BELIEVE ME when I say, if I can learn how to do this on a very small backyard plot in a city, then ANYONE can do this!!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

How to bake delicious works of art: Springerle Cookies

SPRINGERLE COOKIES: ALMOST TOO PRETTY TO EAT!


Need a 14th century cookie for your cookie swap?  OK, this isn't about an actual cookie that is that old, but the technique that is.  Springerle (spring-uhr-lee) are credited as German, dense, cake-like cookies and are made by pressing a specialized cookie mold into the dough, typically carved with beautiful detail.  The printed cookies are allowed to dry to preserve the image before baking and, after they are cooked, will keep for months and actually improve with age.



HISTORY OF THE COOKIE THAT IS ALMOST TOO PRETTY TO EAT:

Scenes from the Bible were some of the earliest images portrayed on the springerle molds hand carved into wood and were also used to educate those who couldn't read or write. Eventually, other scenes were carved and the cookies soon reflected images of holidays, events, and scenes from day-to-day life. The cookies were also used to celebrate births, weddings, and used as betrothal tokens. Exchanging springerle during the holidays was a common practice very much like we exchange cards today.

I fell in love with these beautiful and tasty works of art a few years ago when they were featured in a special cookie edition of Martha Stewart magazine.  I immediately went to www.houseonthehill.net and browsed their wonderful catalog of cookie molds.  I purchased two Christmas themed molds and anxiously twiddled my thumbs until the package arrived.  I couldn't wait to get started!

MY RECIPE TIPS:

  • I found that following this recipe that was included with my first cookie molds, really does work to perfection! I didn't use Hartshorn (bakers ammonia/substitute for baking powder) the first year and my cookies did not turn anywhere near as good as when I did use it. I couldn't find any at local stores in my area, so I ordered some online the next time I bought more cookie molds. I highly recommend using it!

  • Purchase flavoring OILS, not extract as the flavor will not shine though as well. Natural grocery stores are good places to find them.

  • DO dry the cookies before baking them. This preserves the image. Why go to all the effort of making them not to have the image turn out as clear as possible? Depending on your humidity, etc, you will need to dry your printed dough for 2-24 hrs.

  • Lastly, make sure you bake a 'test cookie' in your oven before putting the full pan in. You may need to adjust the temperature, add another pan on the bottom rack, or prop the oven door open to wick off heat so your cookies don't over puff/ tilt/ crack.
 

IMPRINTING COOKIES:

Roll dough 3/8" to 1/2" thick (deeper molds need a thicker dough). Brush your mold with flour (for cookies) or confectioners sugar (for candy) on the mold to prevent sticking. Press the mold evenly onto the dough and lift off. To prevent distorting your image, cut each cookie after pressing rather than printing another one alongside it (press-cut, press-cut).
 
Kitchen tools you will need on hand:
  • Rolling pin
  • Pastry cutter (having this makes it much quicker and precise to cut
  • Cookie Mold/Press or Rolling Pin (for Springerle's)      Springerle Rolling Pin
  • Knife or similar tool to lift cookies after pressing
  • Parchment Paper
  • Cookie pans

Perfection Springerle Cookies Recipe (houseonthehill.net)

  • 1/2 teaspoon Hartshorn or baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (1 1/2 #)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of anise oil (if substituting fruit flavored oils, use 3 teaspoons)
  • 2 lb. box sifted cake flour (Swansdown or Softasilk)
  • Grated rind of orange or lemon – optional (enhances flavor of the traditional anise or the citrus flavors)
  • Additional flour as needed 

    1. Dissolve hartshorn in milk and set aside.
    2. Beat eggs till thick and lemon-colored (10-20 minutes).
    3. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, then the softened butter.
    4. Add the hartshorn and milk, salt, preferred flavoring, and grated rind of lemon or orange, if desired. Gradually beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer, then stir in the remainder of the 2 lbs. of flour to make stiff dough.
    5. Turn onto floured surface and knead in enough flour to make a good print without sticking.
    6. Imprint and dry cookies.
    7. Bake on greased or baker’s parchment-lined cookie sheets at 255° to 325° (oven temp will vary depending on your altitude, oven and cookie depth) till barely golden on the bottom, 10-15 minutes or more, depending on size of cookie.
    Store in airtight containers or in zipper bags in the freezer. They keep for months, and improve with age. Yields 3 to 12 dozen.
      
    You can also use Springerle molds to make paper casted/painted ornaments, decorations and crafts. There are other cookies that you can use with them too; such as Gingerbread, Fondant, and many other wonderful recipes that will not only be delicious, but so pretty you will ALMOST be hesitant to eat them!


    Click here to view a video on how to bake Springerle cookieswww.backyardhomesteadadventure.blogspot.com

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