Our Mothers’ Kitchen – Springerle Cookies

In the face of Covid19 I am trying to remain positive, follow a routine, read, write and watch television. An abundance of rain offers no help here in the Midwest but as with all things these will pass and we will get back to “normal” or a new “normal”.

I started looking through box of family papers that have been sitting in the closet for years. I pulled them out the other day and started reading some of the letters. These are letters from the 1930’s and 40’s; from my mom, my great grandmother, and great aunts and some from myself in the 1980’s. These letters are a series of conversations about the weather, favorite subjects and grades at school and their plans to visit.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a few letters about making Springerle cookies. One side of my mom’s family emigrated from Germany and brought many of their recipes with them. One of those recipes was for springerle cookies which are still being made. Springerle cookies are traditional Christmas cookies from Germany and Austria and date back to the 1600’s. They  are white, anise-flavored cookies, made from a simple egg-flour-sugar dough. They taste best when made a month before they are eaten. I found three letters in which my great grandmother Ella and her daughters (my great aunts) were making Springerles for the holidays. In a much later letter my great aunt referenced a conversation to my mother about my interest in learning how to make them. I don’t remember if my aunt showed me how to make them but I did find a recipe and made them years later. I found the old family recipe from my great aunt and combined the two recipes. Below is my family recipe, the oldest recipe I have in my cookbook. It dates from 1850.

What family kitchen stories do you have?

Springerle Cookies (1850 recipe)

From the kitchen of: Bess Blackwell Meyers

Ingredients:

· 4 eggs, large

· 1 pound confectioners’ sugar

· 4 cups flour

· 1 round teaspoon baking powder

· 1 pinch salt

· 1 Tablespoon anise seed

Directions:

1. Separate the 4 eggs.  Beat whites until very dry and stiff.  Beat yolks till light and creamy.

2. Beat yolks and whites together.  Add 1 pound of powdered sugar, beating till light.

3. Add 4 cups flour, 1 Tbsp. anise seed, pinch salt and 1 tsp. rounded of baking powder, mixed together before adding to egg and sugar mixture.

4. Beat in flour—probably you will have to work some in by hand.  If a small amount won’t go in—save to flour pastry board.  Roll out about 1/8 inch or little more and press small piece into mold or  roller.

5. Cut into shape and dry face up on floured towel.  I make them about 7:30 p.m.  When I go to bed, 11 p.m., I turn face down to dry.

6. Bake in a 350 oven 6-7 minutes.  Bake only until very light cream color.  They raise a little more than 1/2 original size.

Let cool and store in a closed container in a cool, dark location.