What is a Springerle?

woman making cookies

Springerle is a type of sweet biscuit that is part of traditional German cuisine and is especially common during the Christmas holidays. The main identifying feature of a springerle is the relief of the biscuit face. This feature is created by pressing or rolling a mold over the dough before it is placed in the oven to bake. Also, the dough is allowed to dry for a period of time between embossing and baking. This helps keep the impression on the dough so that it is still clearly visible after cooking.

The impressions on the surface of springerle cookies are created by a carved rolling pin or a metal press that acts as a seal for ink reliefs. When a rolling pin is used, the wooden cylinder is rolled over the surface of the dough. Although the patterns are carved into a rounded surface, they look perfectly flat and even when rolled in springerle dough properly.

Springerle cookies have been made in Germany and neighboring countries for many centuries. In fact, there is historical evidence that these cookies may have been produced as early as the 1300s. Some of the earliest springerle molds found feature Christian imagery and symbols. This is one of the reasons springerle are believed to have derived from the practice of stamping sacramental bread to be used in religious ceremonies. While early molds for these cookies were often religious in nature, more recent molds from the 1600s to 1800s reflect images of family, love, and marriage.

The defining flavor of springerle cookies is anise. Instead of having aniseed seeds mixed into the dough, the seeds are usually spread on the baking sheet. The molded dough is placed on top of the seeds before being baked. When they are finished baking, a process that is usually done at a very low temperature, Springerle cookies retain their shape and embossed image and are usually quite light in color. It is common for springerle, which is made mostly with egg whites and white flour, to be almost white in color. The color is only made lighter by the fact that these types of cookies are often dusted with a highly refined icing sugar after cooling.

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