Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Springerle Roller

I recently told you about my new/old springerle roller! I’d been looking for a good, wooden, “vintage” one (=“antique”), and we found this new one at an antiques store in Hermann.

I have other rollers, but for some reason or other, they weren’t quite perfect.

My First Roller

My first roller was given to me as a gift—for which I’m eternally grateful, since it got me to start making springerles in the first place. (Think: “gateway drug.”)

It must be a fairly modern roller, not old at all. The carvings are very, ah . . . minimalist. I don’t think they were even technically “carved.” Instead, I think they were created with a Dremel tool or some such. Mass-produced. You can find these types of rollers for a fairly low price online. I suspect it’s, um, “imported.”

The problem with this roller is that I have a hard time figuring out what the pictures are supposed to represent. This carving, I’m pretty sure, is supposed to be of some kind of bird:

And this one, if you use your imagination, could be of a butterfly. . . . Or maybe it’s an owl—?

But this one: You have to let your imagination “go” in order to get anything representational out of it. Sue thinks it looks like a skull-and-crossbones!

Well, maybe. I guess if you spend a lot of time looking at cubistic art, you could figure out what it’s supposed to represent. . . . Or maybe you need to drink a lot of eggnog or some other kind of “Christmas cheer”!

Here’s another carving on that roller that confounds me: Every time I look at it, I think, “Tiki God.”

. . . But I doubt that’s what it’s “supposed” to be. One thing I’m certain of: A Tiki God is not standard Christmas imagery!

My Second Roller

I bought this from the nice lady who sells springerles and rollers each year at the Old Munichburg Oktoberfest. She was at the Hermann Kristkindl Markt this year, too. She’s incredible!

The springerle rolling pins she sells are manufactured by a company called House on the Hill, and you really should check them out. They make reproduction springerle rollers and molds, out of some kind of resin or plastic, which are exact copies of antique wooden originals.

Here’s the pin I have.

Their rollers are ornate and beautiful. And yet . . . they are not wooden. And if you’re like me, and you’re a bit sloppy about reapplying flour or cornstarch to the roller between each “roll,” then the dough tends to stick after a while. And with all those ornate indentations, well . . .

And hey, don’t you just like the feel of wood in your hands? Wouldn’t you rather have a unique, handmade, wooden tool than a plastic one? For me, the answer is “yes” and “yes.”

Hence my continuing search.

My Third Roller

It isn’t really “mine.” Like the family Christmas tree, it’s an heirloom for which I’m only a temporary caretaker.

Dad had this with the stuff that he got from his mom’s house when she passed away. But this past year, he gave it to me: His grandmother’s springerle roller. (Or one of them, anyway.)

I’ve told you about Wilhelmine Thomas before—remember the red cabbage story? Also, hers is one of my favorite lebkuchen recipes.

The deal with this roller is that it’s a historic treasure, delicate; it might even be something she brought with her from Germany—and I don’t want to use it.

At some point (I’m guessing the 1960s), Grandma mounted it onto a simple, fabric-covered piece of cardboard using two tiny brads, and framed it. This means that even in the sixties, Grandma was thinking it was too old to be used, and took it out of service at that time.

It would be pretty cheeky of me to (carefully!) remove the brads and unmount it, then use it for cooking.

Especially since there’s historic springerle dough still stuck on it!

Sue and I joked about this: What if you could take a DNA sample from that fossilized dough and make a clone of Great-Grandma Thomas’s springerles!

But seriously—it’s an old treasure, and I would be heartsick if I tried using it, and the wooden handle split or something. Better to leave it as a museum piece, eh—?

The New Springerle Roller

It’s not as ornate as the ones House on the Hill sells, but (if memory serves) the patterns on this roller seem more like the patterns I recall when I was a little girl, when grandmas and other ladies of their generation were making springerles.

Does that sound funny? I mean, the rollers from House on the Hill are very nice—exquisite—and maybe “too” ornate. The patterns on this roller are a bit simpler.

Who knows—maybe this very roller had belonged to one of my own Central Missouri forbears, and ended up at that antiques store in Hermann!

At any rate, I really love the pictures on this “new” roller. It’s big on animals, which is just right for me. There’s a rooster (which makes me think of old German immigrant churches, and the passages leading up to Matthew 26.75).

There are hooved animals, including an elk or reindeer.

Cooler than that (to my thinking), there’s a nice bushy-tailed squirrel!

And even more remarkable, there’s an insect—a wasp or bee! Yay! (“. . . All creatures, great and small”!)

There are neat plants, too. This looks like a thistle, though with my imagination it could also be an agave, or a rattlesnake master, or something like that.

This might be an edelweiss—what do you think? Or some kind of primrose?

This year, with our bounty of springerle rollers, we made some lovely, lovely cookies, and I’m going to have a great time sharing them!

(By the way, click here for the springerle recipe I use; it’s slightly nontraditional—but hey, I’ve gotten no complaints!)


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Lovely! I've always had better luck with the flat molds than with the rollers. You've got a beautiful collection.

We bake these every few years, and had great success this time around.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Thanks for commenting! I think the more different types of rollers/molds you can have, the better. Now, I'm thinking I'd like to have a roller with a smaller pattern, so the cookies turn out a bit smaller. These days, it seems folks would much rather have smaller cookies than larger ones--so you can take more cookies on your plate!

Thanks again for your comments!


Suzanne said...

Hi! I just picked up a roller mold just like the one your grandmother had. It has an acorn and leaf pattern on it. I can't tell the age, but it looks relatively old. Do you know anything about the molds that look more like the standard rolling pin and the one your grandmother had? I can't find any information on the 2 styles.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Hi, Suzanne, thanks for commenting. I really don't know a whole lot about springerle (and similar cookie) molds and rollers, and I'll bet you'd want to delve into some German-language resources to get definitive information. I suspect that in many cases (including the smallish one my great-grandmother had), they were made by hand.

This year (Christmas 2015), I actually finally *used* the small, old one (great-grandma's, pictured affixed to a frame in the above post) . . . I was extremely careful with it! It was a bit harder to use, as it only imprinted (and squished down) a single strip of dough at a time. I found I could roll the dough into a long "snake" and imprint a bunch on that shape--but the wider "rolling pin" types are probably more efficient overall.

In general, I don't think it's possible to have too many different types of springerle rollers. (*Grin!*)

Thanks again for your comment,