The Tradition of Springerle
The origins of detailed hand carved springerle plaques (pronounced schprin-girl-eh), are lost in Central European history (the first known printed recipe for the dough was in 1688). The plaques, onto which the anise-flavored dough is pressed, took on the same fine detail as illustrations for books, which were also carved on wood. These scenes were taken from mythology, the bible, folklore, and ancient ornamental patterns. As the illustrated cookies became more elaborate, they became Christmas gifts to favored guests of the nobility. Plaques being produced now are less elaborate with mostly seasonal subject matter.
How to Use Cookie Stamps for Springerle
ALL cookie stamps work well with springerle-type dough if you are careful to maintain uniform thickness of stamped (imprinted) dough.
1 - Shape 1 1/4-inch balls from portions of chilled dough.
2 - Rub powdered sugar** into the design of your stamp. Tap stamp on work surface to release excess sugar.
3 - Place balls of dough on a floured cookie sheet and press down with cookie stamp using a gentle but firm rocking motion. Press each cookie to the same thickness for uniformity.
4 - If the dough is sticky, thoroughly chill it. Using powdered sugar or flour on your hands and work surface insures each ball of dough will have a non-sticky surface for easy stamping.
**Some cookie bakers prefer use of all-purpose flour, rice flour or corn starch.
Painting Edible Springerle Cookies
Paint cookies after drying overnight but BEFORE baking. Use paste food colors available in cake decorating shops. Mix 1 egg yolk with 1/4 teaspoon of cold water and Mix well with a fork. Divide this into as many small containers or "puddles" as you wish to have colors. To these containers (or "puddles" on aluminum foil) add some paste food colors and mix with toothpicks.
Keep in mind that the yolk is yellow and will change the hue of the paste colors. The colors also change slightly as the cookies bake. Use narrow artist's paintbrushes that are new or are only used for working with food.
Non-Edible Cookie Ornaments
A ribbon hole can easily be made in unbaked cookies with a toothpick or small stirring straw. Paint cookies AFTER baking with water colors. A clear matte finish Krylon spray and freezer storage preserves the ornaments for many years of use and enjoyment.
From http://www.cookiemold.com/MeringueSpr.html, Gene Wilson, Hobi Molds
Sur la Table's Recipe for Springerle Cookies
Makes 3 to 12 dozen, depending on the size of the cookies.
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 large eggs, at room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar (1 1/2 pounds), sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon oil of anise or lemon or orange.
Lemon or orange zest, optional
1 2-pound box of sifted cake flour, plus 2 1/2 additional cups for kneading
Dissolve the baking powder in milk and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they are thick and lemon-colored. This takes about 10 minutes in a strong mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar, then the softened butter, beating until creamy. Add the baking powder mixture, salt, flavoring, and, if desired, lemon or orange zest. Gradually beat in a s much flour as you can with the mixer, stirring in the remainder of the 2-pound box to make a very stiff dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead with the extra flour (at least 2 cups) until the dough loses its stickiness. The amount of flour to add depends on the humidity, size of eggs, etc. On a smooth surface, well dusted with flour or powdered sugar, roll as much dough as you can handle comfortably to approximately 1/3” thick. Dust the top with flour or powdered sugar. Gently and firmly press the springerle mold or cookie stamp into the dough to imprint the design. Cut the cookies apart using a knife, pizza wheel, pastry wheel or cookie cutter. Place the cookies on a kitchen towel or pastry cloth and allow o dry uncovered for 12 to 24 hours. Bake on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet at 225° to 325° F, just until the cookie bottoms are barely golden. To determine the correct time and temperature, test by using a single cookie. If the oven is too hot, the cookie will puff up and/or brown quickly.
Cool the cookies on a rack and store them in lightly-covered containers or in zipper bags in the freezer. Springrle keep for months and improve with age – make them in October or November for Christmas.