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Springerles

December 10, 2010 • 57 Comments

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Helen Getz's Springerles

- Amanda

My grandmother, Helen Getz, turns 94 today, and she's as sturdy and charming as the springerle cookies she makes this time of year. What, you've never heard of a springerle? Now's your chance to learn all about this lovable German treat.

But first, the truth: when I was young, why anyone would eat a springerle, a hard anise-and-lemon scented cookie, was incomprehensible. It was white and not at all buttery. It did not melt in your mouth, but assaulted you with an intense flavor called anise! It showed up at Christmas and could linger in the cookie jar until Easter, giving my mother an excuse not to make any other cookies until they were gone. And the adults who liked them were obviously misguided.

I have grown wiser with age and have come to appreciate springerle’s defensive façade. Its anise seed is balanced by lemon. Its patterned top is a thing of beauty. It’s the under-appreciated German cousin to biscotti. Moreover, I now have an actual appreciation for method and springerles are all about method.

Springerles are typically made using either springerle molds or a springerle rolling pin (but you don’t have to have them, so don’t give up). After patting (or rolling) out the dough, you use the mold or springerle rolling pin to imprint the top of the dough with shapes and designs. You cut the dough into rectangles, set the cookies on baking sheets, and then comes the odd-ball part: you let the cookies sit out overnight to dry out the dough before baking. (Is this safe? I don’t know. I’ve eaten them my whole life and I’m still here)

Finally, when you bake them, you do so at a low temperature so the cookies never brown. And after all that, you’re left with a hard, fragrant chip that’s as beautiful as a majong tile and a perfect partner to eggnog and warm milky tea.

Helen Getz’s Springerles

Makes about 24 cookies

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons crushed anise seed or fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or by using good ol’ elbow grease, beat the eggs and salt until light and foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar (I do about 1/ 4 cup at a time) until thick and cream-colored. Be patient – this takes a while.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until a dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Knead it lightly for less than a minute, then pat into a rectangle 1/ 4-inch thick and just a little narrower than the springerle rolling pin (if you don’t have a springerle rolling pin, read on, I’ll get to this), sprinkling flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface. If you have a springerle rolling pin, roll it over the dough, firm enough to make in impression but not so firm as to flatten the dough. Cut into individual cookies, following the pattern. Transfer to the parchment lined baking sheets and let stand overnight. (If you don’t have the rolling pin, roll the dough a smidgen thinner and simply cut into 2-inch by 1 1/ 2-inch cookies.)

3. The next day, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake the springerles for 20 minutes; rotating the pans back to front, halfway through baking. Do not let the springerles color. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets. Store in an airtight container.

Jump to Comments (57)

Comments (57)

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about 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Starting this year"s Springerle tonight. It's become my annual ritual for launching the December holiday season!! ;o)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

How nice to hear this! The great thing about an early Thanksgiving -- more time for holiday baking!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

about 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Ah yes! The luxury of a full extra week. I am soooo looking forward to this. ;o)

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

These are the best! I made a batch right after Thanksgiving that I've just started eating. (They last forever, tasting better after a few weeks.) I used the springerle mold my mother had when I was a girl, which is the only thing from her kitchen that is now in mine. I use Penzeys' anise seeds from Spain, which have a bright, beautiful freshness about them, and Meyer lemon -- though I had to buy the lemons, as the Meyers here are very late in ripening this year. These springerle are perfect with hot chai on these bleak winter days. ;o)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

All of your adjustments and tweaks sound terrific. Makes me want to bake these right now!

Bike2

almost 3 years ago Sagegreen

This year I used an organic unbleached cake flour for my springerles; it turned out really well! I will be gilding some for the New Year!

3-bizcard

almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I was a lucky recipient of Sagegreen's springerles and they are absolutely delicious. I enjoy with tea, froze some and take out of the freezer as needed. They freeze beautifully, keep well and are utterly delectable.

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over 3 years ago tbpromo

My Great Grandmother made these every year...and I can still taste and smell them...but still haven't mastered them! Have her old molds and will try your recipe. Her recipe listed a nickles worth of and a dimes worth of ingredients....it's hard to figure that out in 2011 when she made them in the early to mid 1900's! Thank you!

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almost 4 years ago Paul Hietter

A dear friend of my mother made these every year for Christmas, when I was a kid. Not everyone enjoyd hem so I always had them pretty much to myself. What lovely memory and time to make them again.

Thanks for the memory!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You're welcome.

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almost 4 years ago alexa_van_de_walle

My mother still has a springerles rolling pin. Long survived her divorce from my father in the 70s -- he's of German/Belgian descent. Will ask her to borrow and try your recipe. For fun, check out the vintage springerle rolling pins and molds over on ebay -- magnificent! Thanks for this post.
Lexi (LightheartedLocavore.com)

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almost 4 years ago mnr_t

Love these! My grandmother's recipe includes hartshorn (ammonium carbonate) which you can only get from a drugstore (tho' I now use baker's ammonia!) Gives a bit of a rise to the dough -- and makes the dough itself less snackable :) My mom always made these in August for maximum crispness! I always warn recipients -- hated them as a child, love them now 50 some-odd years later.

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almost 4 years ago Smaklig

Every year at Christmas my aunt would give my dad a ziploc bag filled with Springerle because she knew they were his favorite. They were perfect little tiles, each with an imprint of a flower or a bird, just too beautiful to eat! My dad would make them last for months! Sometimes we'd find them in a drawer under a pile of papers and if we were lucky he would share. They really do last that long, a delicate crunch on the outside and slightly chewy inside and that special anise flavor; my aunt would sprinkle some of the seeds on the board before rolling them out.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks for your comment -- glad to find others with springerle memories.

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almost 4 years ago wmnofoz54

My mother made Springerle, Liebkuchen and Pfferneusse every Christmas. My ancestors were mostly of German descent and those cookies always signaled the beginning of the Christmas season around our house. My Mother is 99 now and unable to do the cooking, so my sister and I will carry on the tradition. What wonderful memories this blog brought back to me. I could never wait til these cookies softened up enough to eat, so dunking them in hot tea was a special treat for the holidays. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good cookie. :o)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you for your lovely comment. Happy holidays!

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almost 4 years ago fortyniner

Amanda - What an interesting little cookie. I happen to have all the ingredients on hand and out of sheer curiosity am going to make these. I have never heard of them, or seen the rolling pins or cookie moulds, but I am sure they will still be edible without the decorations on them! I guess I could always buy some of the scottish shortbread biscuit moulds though.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

No need to have the rolling pin -- that's just for show!

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almost 4 years ago chava

My mother had a friend who baked these each year - and insisted that they were only hard "at first." If you left them in the cookie jar for a week or two, she said, they get easier to bite.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Haven't had that experience, but certainly if your house is humid, the cookies will soften a bit.

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almost 4 years ago MakeThatMakeThis

This is such a charming recipe. Thank you for sharing. I'm looking forward to making them with my own Grandma (96) this Christmas.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Have fun with it -- it's a forgiving dough.

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almost 4 years ago Savorykitchen

How do you pronounce "springerle"?

Spring-girly
Spring-girl
Shpring-garel

etc. etc.

Please advise - thanks!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I pronounce it spring-err--LEE.

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almost 4 years ago Savorykitchen

Danke

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almost 4 years ago Riverguyd

Ahh! too funny! I had a German Deli for some years and always carried these at Christmas. The German descendant patrons always snatched them up...but I was always issuing refunds to the run of the mill population.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Very funny. Definitely an acquired taste/texture.

Mcs

almost 4 years ago mcs3000

It's so nice to see this post about your grandmother, Amanda. I loved the stories about her in your book. Best birthday wishes to her. If I ever get a springerle rolling pin, I'm going to make her recipe first. Great video too - and tree.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you -- my grandmother will be pleased to hear it!

Farmer's_market

almost 4 years ago amysarah

When I was little, my mother had a beautiful carved wood rolling pin for Springerles - not that I recall her ever using it. I wonder if she still has it, and if so I may have to liberate it from her. I know anise is the classic, but I have a lifelong aversion to anything in that flavor group (anisette, pernod, ouzo, even fennel unless used very sparingly - as a kid, I was black Good & Plenty-phobic.) So, is there any other flavoring you'd recommend as a substitute? Cardamom maybe?

Bike2

almost 4 years ago Sagegreen

I am going to be experimenting with some lavender ones. Probably will also do some with almond oil and some with cinnamon oil. Lemon, lime and orange are other great flavorings. Cardamom works really well with orange. These will be such fun!

Bike2

almost 4 years ago Sagegreen

I know these usually are left white, but one of the things that I most enjoy with springerles is painting them with natural coloring! They make gorgeous ornaments either way. Lemon and orange cardamom are great flavors, too. I wonder how lavender or rose would taste. This week while other folks are busy with dinner rolls, I may do some of these instead as gifts.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I've never painted them before -- like that idea.

Bike2

almost 4 years ago Sagegreen

If you make holes in each cookie, you can hang them and decorate an entire tree as decoration as some folks do with gingerbread. When they are painted, they truly are edible art!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks!

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almost 4 years ago Elycooks

Oh my, I haven't thought of these in years. I grew up next door to a famly that made these every holiday. I became obsessed with the rolling pins and collected them at an early age. Wonderful dunked in hot tea!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Would love to see your collection! I like them with Earl Grey (with milk and raw sugar).

Ozoz_profile

almost 4 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

There's a fantastic kitchen shop closing down near where I live and last Sunday, I bought a 'fancy' rolling pin..........Guess what it was? Oh yes, a springerle one!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for adding yet another cookie to the genre of European bakes and very best wishes to your Grandma

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Maybe you're psychic!

Newliztoqueicon-2

almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

Happy Birthday to your grandmom - I make her blueberry pie every summer!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

She'll be so pleased to learn this!

Gator_cake

almost 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I have a springerle recipe that my mom gave me. It was from a family friend of my grandmothers. It uses anise oil in the dough, no lemon peel, and after the overnight rest you rub some cold water on the back of the cookie then set it a shallow dish of anise seeds before it goes on the baking sheet. I loved the cookies as a kid!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I think my grandmother occasionally did the same thing with the dish of anise seeds -- that or another relative did.

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almost 4 years ago The Mad Hausfrau

I keep passing up these molds and rolling pins in the Christmas markets here. You've inspired me to get one and try this recipe. Thanks! I love that it's your oma's recipe.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 4 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Do get one -- it's a fun dough to work with and the cookies are really unusual!