Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Family Spingerle Recipes

I’m still groovin’ on the springerles! My new springerle roller still has me all excited!

I’ve already confessed to you that the springerle recipe I use comes out of the 1949 Good Housekeeping Cook Book and not from my forbears, but I have to qualify that by saying that it, too, qualifies as a family recipe, since I got that cookbook from cousin Marguerite’s kitchen when she moved into a nursing home, and it is one of the cherished objects with which I remember her.

However, I do have other recipes available, which I’m going to try sometime. Naturally, it’s hard to try a different recipe, when the one I use works so well, but then again, these are written in Grandma Schroeder’s hand.

For what it’s worth—I have not tested these at all—I’ve photographed them for you.

Great-Grandma Thomas’s Recipe

The first is from Grandma Schroeder’s mother, Wilhelmine Thomas.

Springerle as Mom Made Them

6 eggs—beaten light
3 cup sugar—sifted & added gradually to eggs—place bowl over low flame and beat until very light.
Add 1 teasp. anise—enough flour to make a stiff dough—sift 2 teasp. pwd. hartshorn & 1/2 teasp B.P., roll out & let sit over nite.

Isn’t it interesting that it calls for heating the sugar and eggs? Maybe you need to do that if you use granulated instead of powdered sugar, but anyway, it’s unusual to see that step in a springerle recipe.

You’ll also note it’s a truly old-fashioned recipe, because it uses hartshorn as the leavening agent. Hartshorn, or baker’s ammonia, is ammonium carbonate and was originally derived from the horns of a type of reindeer. Before baking powder became available, it was commonly used in German and Scandinavian baking.

I think it’s interesting that this recipe uses a bit of baking powder in addition to the hartshorn. Best of both worlds—?

A lot of springerle-baking purists insist on using only hartshorn, which you can still find in specialty stores (or something; I’ve never used it). They say it makes the texture of the cookies perfect.

I’ve read that when you cook with hartshorn, you should not eat any raw dough, since the ammonia doesn’t leave until you bake it out. (So—no “springerle cookie dough ice cream,” unless you omit the hartshorn!)

By the way, click here for a post that has pictures of Great-Grandma Thomas's springerle roller.

Josephine Weber’s Recipe

The other recipe is for “anise cookies,” but around here that’s another way of saying “springerle.” This one came from Miss Josephine Weber, who for many years lived across the street from Grandma, in a house that still stands across the street from us.

For those of you who know our neighborhood, Josephine Weber’s home is the one that most recently has been a beauty salon. I’ve blogged about this dear neighbor before.

It might be hard to read, since it’s in pencil, but remember, you can click on any picture on my blog and it will make it bigger.

Here’s what it says:

Josephine Weber’s Anise Cookies

1# pwd sugar
4 eggs
2 teasp. bake pwd.
1# flour
anise seed
lump butter

Here, the interesting thing is that it calls for butter. I’ve seen a few other recipes that use butter, but not a majority. All I can say about it is: Josephine Weber made ends meet by baking cakes, especially angel food cakes, and other goodies, for wealthy uptown people, and she knew her way around a kitchen!

Next year, I’ll have to experiment some, have a “springerle-tasting,” and let you know how these recipes pan out.

Meanwhile, if you try them, I hope you’ll let me know what you think!


Liberty Stoneware said...

I came across your blog a few weeks ago, and like your format and content! I'm excited to see you make springerles! I got started on springerles about 5 or 6 years ago through a friend who gave me her grandmother's recipe (from Kentucky) and taught me how to make them. I now have a collection of rollers (including two like your "minimalist" roller). Most years I have made them around Christmas, but don't know if I will have time this year. They certainly are a great treat! My friend's grandmother's recipe is as follows:
4 Large Eggs
4 Cups Flour (using as little as possible)
1 lb confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Anise oil
While my friend did not write out the very specific instructions her grandmother gave her, I do remember her grandmother being very particular about the number of beats for whipping the eggs and that it had to be the right consistency of "thick and yellow"!
Thanks for inspiring me to (hopefully) make springerles this year, and happy holidays!

Julianna Schroeder said...

Thanks for posting and for sharing your heirloom recipe! As a ceramicist (is that the word?), you probably have lots of nifty doodads with which to make impressions on your springerles--besides the traditional rollers. There have been times when I make springerles that I feel like I'm doing some kind of ceramics project! Only the oven isn't nearly as hot as a kiln!

You're in North Carolina--do you have problems with humidity preventing the tops of the springerles from drying out appropriately?

Re: eggs, there's a YouTube (I think it's from the House on the Hill people) where they say to beat the eggs until they're, like, tripled in volume. They use a KitchenAid mixer. Ha! I use a wire whisk!

Also--very nontraditional--there's no reason you couldn't substitute any doggone flavoring you want, and make springerles any time of year. I have used orange flavoring, and someday I'll try black walnut and rose flavoring. Almond would be good, too.

Thanks for commenting, have a Merry Christmas, and have fun with your springerles, whenever you make them!