Monday, September 17, 2007

Pre-holidays Springerle Test Run.

(Yes, I know, it's still too early for Christmasy stuff, but I wanted to give my new toy a spin.)

About this time last year, I became very interested in the art of springerle and other Old World Christmas cookies. At the time, however, I was unable to get any springerle molds and set my sights on the lebkuchen legacy (a blog to look for in coming months), and set aside my springerle dreams...until now.

I happened across the work Mr. Gene Wilson of Belleville, Illinois and his website, Hobi Cookie Molds. I looked about and almost immediately ordered my first hand carved springerle mold.

The molds features Weinachtsmann, one of what appear to be numerous variations of Santa in Germany. The mold is from Gene's Heirloom Springerle Collection, it measures three inches wide and five inches tall, and is 3/8 inch thick. The price was about even with most resin reproduction molds I've seen, at $26.

I am very impressed with the detail in the mold. The folds in Weinachtsmann's robe, the texture of the basket, the tree branches, even the three bags of's all there. But a mold is just a piece of kitchen decoration until one puts it to its intended use. So, I did.

The process of making springerle is pretty involved and requires a bit of planning. First, you have to let the dough rest and chill for two to three hours after mixing it. Second, after you do mold the cookies and cut them out, you have to let them dry on the counter for 12 to 24 hours. You then bake them "in a slow oven," which translates as 300º F, for 12 - 15 minutes. If that wasn't enough, after you cool them you need to let them "ripen" for a week (some recipes call for three weeks) in a container with a slice of bread. This lets you slowly reintroduce moisture into the cookies. Then you may enjoy.

I decided that I would use the included springerle recipe for my first try, and I'm fairly happy with the results.

They lack some of the finer details from the mold, but I guess you can't expect your first batch of springerle to be a blue ribbon entry. As you can see, they're quite puffy, which is a result I didn't see coming. Especially considering how flat and dense the dough was. When I broke one open (I couldn't help myself), the inside was almost cracker-like, with layers of air and cookie. Are they supposed to be like that?

I'll give them another try in a week or two, after my first batch ripens.

I'm already looking at the next molds I want to order from Mr. Wilson. This time I'm thinking...shortbread.



lindsay said...

german cookies! first thing i thought of when i saw the molds was a chinese steamed dumpling type thing that my grandmother makes (presumably a traditional thing), whereby fried sticky rice (with goodies like shitake mushrooms, chinese sausage, peanuts..) is wrapped in a thickish rice flour based wrapper and pressed into a similar mold. i think hers features various peaches and other good luck symbols. rather a tangential thought, but voila :D


Amanda said...

Fantastic! I always make spritz every Christmas, and have wanted to add springerle to my reperatoire for a few years now. I love the classic cookies and not the iced-up sugar-high cookies we have so much of today. The carver you link to is amazing-- I'm definitely going to save up and buy a few. Heirlooms you could definitely pass along. Keep us posted on your springerle progress!

paula said...

i grew up with sprinerle EVERY christmas for my whole life. made with a mold that belonged to my great great great grandmother (now belongs to my sister).
yours look EXACTLY like those, save the mold design. i could almost taste them while i looked at your pictures. and the cracker like center of the cookie is right. they're made to dip into tea or coffee...yummmmm....
i too have been looking at gene's molds, and i think, since reading your review, i'll do just that.

taadaa said...

i grew up with springerle EVERY christmas. made with a mold that belonged to my great great great grandmother (now belongs to my older sister). the pictures you posted look EXACTLY like the cookies i made with my mom (except the picture is different). the texture you described sounds like what it's supposed to be like. they're ment to be dipped into coffee or tea....yummmm....
i was just looking at gene's molds and will now purchase one since reading your review.
i could almost taste the cookies when i looked at your pictures.

katzenjaammer said...

Hello, random commentor here :-)

Your springerle look perfect. But if I may add my own two cents about making this now-rare cookie, you must cut them apart and let them dry before you bake them. There is a high proportion of sugar in this dough which as you know is a liquid ingredient. If you don't let them dry they will steam and create a "skin". The optimal consistency should be cakelike inside with a crisp cookie outside.

I am happy you decided to carry on this lost art and share it with a new audience. Thanks.