Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Springerle Cookies

I'm still on the German kick with some delightful Springerle cookies. These anise flavored shortbread cookies are a German staple for holidays. They have a wonderful simplicity that actually takes a good bit of time to achieve.

The key to Springerle is the Springerle Rolling Pin or molds. The designs on the cookies are imprinted using these devices. For my cookies I used a fairly inexpensive rolling pin available at Amazon. Obviously, it's not the best out there but it gave me a good idea of what can be done with this traditional baking method. I'll be investing in some more intricate and pricey versions in the future!

The biggest difference between Springerle and regular shortbread is the drying process. The cookies must dry on the pans for 12-24 hours before being baked at a low temperature. This drying and low temp baking preserve the designs in the cookies. I used a pizza cutter to cut apart my cookies, but for a really nice edge you can choose to use a pastry wheel and get a beautiful scalloped edge.

Anise is the preferred traditional flavoring but you can substitute just about anything. I think vanilla or lemon would be wonderful too! Grab yourself a Springerle rolling pin or mold and give these guys a try!


Springerle Cookies


A traditional German cookie with beautiful designs and a light anise flavor.

Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. anise extract (or 1/2 tsp. anise oil)
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
Cooking Directions
  1. Line cookie sheets (non insulated) or half sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs on high speed until they are light in color and form a ribbon that slowly disappears when the paddle is lifted. Add sugar, butter, and baking powder; beat at high speed for 15 minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in anise oil or extract. Gradually beat in flour until well mixed.
  3. Lightly flour your springerle rolling pin; set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured board, knead the dough a few time. The dough will be sticky so knead in just enough flour to make it manageable. Using a standard rolling Pin, roll into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Make sure you don't roll the dough too thinly because it will get another roll with the springerle pin.
  5. Using your floured springerle rolling pin, roll slowly and firmly over the previously rolled dough to make a clear design.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut cookies apart and trim off outside edges. Place cookies on your prepared cookie sheets.
  7. Roll out scraps of dough and repeat. Be sure to flour the rolling pin and board before each pressing.
  8. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets. Let cookies stand, uncovered, 12-24 hours to dry.
  9. Preheat oven to 325°. Place oven rack in middle of oven.
  10. Bake one sheet at a time only. Bake 10 minutes until slightly golden on bottoms, but white on top.
  11. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to wire cooling rack to cool. Let cookies stand 8-12 hours to completely dry before storing.
  12. Store cookies in airtight container with a piece of bread so that they don't become rock hard. In 4-8 days they will be perfect for eating as the flavor develops and permeates the cookies.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Butterkuchen (Butter Cake)

Ich koche eine Butterkuchen in meiner Küche.

Yes, that's German. It means: I am cooking a butter cake in my kitchen. A few months ago Michael and I started using a little online app for learning German. That's his heritage (Koch means Cook) and he also loves singing German lieder. So, it was natural for him to learn. I decided to join in so we could share learning the language.

For Christmas I got him Rosetta Stone German and we've been having fun really working our way through. Since we've been doing so much German lately, I figured I would try some German sweets. So far, I've done two. The first is the Butter Cake which is traditionally served with morning coffee or afternoon tea. It's sweet, but not too sweet and uses yeast for its lift. When I do this again, I will probably depart from tradition and utilize a large springform pan to give it something to cling to when rising. The traditional method, given here, uses a simple jelly roll pan which doesn't provide anything for the dough to grab onto when rising.

Regardless, this is a delicious sweet!


Butterkuchen

Ingredients
  • 4 1/2 cups Unbleached Flour, divided
  • 1 package Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, divided and softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
Cooking Directions
  1. Spray a jelly roll pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, add 7 Tbs. butter and 3/4 cup sugar and beat until combined. Add egg, milk, yeast, salt and 4 cups flour. Switch to dough hook and beat on low speed until dough comes together and forms smooth ball. Add a bit more flour if necessary.
  3. Allow dough to rest for 30 minutes covered, then form into a ball and transfer to a greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°.
  5. Lightly flour a board or countertop and roll the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Transfer to the prepared jelly roll pan. Let dough rest for another 15 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, combine 1/2 cup sugar. When dough has rested, dimple the dough with your hands or back of a wooden spoon. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  7. Cut 9 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and spread across the dough and cinnamon sugar. Place pan in oven and bake for 25 minutes until the topping has caramelized. If necessary turn on the broiler for last 2 minutes and watch closely to caramelize the sugar topping.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut the cake with a pizza cutter or large knife into squares.
Prep time: 75 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 100 minutes
Yield: 20 pieces
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