Day 3: Springerle

Today’s bake is a traditional cookie that hails from Europe, specifically Switzerland and Germany.  These first caught my eye years ago because they are beautifully stamped with intricate pictures.  There are all kinds of  different stamps that you can buy to create these beautiful cookies and there are even rolling pins that make it easier to create lots of stamped cookies at once.  Most of these are very expensive, though, and I have been reluctant to try them because of that.

However, last week, while on a day trip to visit the King Arthur Flour flagship store, I found these cool cookie stamps that I thought would also work for Springerle.

So, I did a little recipe research and took off running.  The dough was easy enough to make.  Aside from the flavorings, it’s just eggs, sugar, and flour.  No butter!

You start by whipping the eggs (here I add some grated orange peel, but you don’t have to) until they are quite thick.

The sugar and flour are added in to create a dough.  Then, you roll it out.

I rolled it out between two sheets of parchment.  To make sure the stamps would not stick, I dusted the top of the dough with a little powdered sugar before stamping away.

After stamping, I used a biscuit cutter to cut the cookies out and then transfer them to parchment lined baking sheets.

Then, here comes the odd part of the recipe.  The cookies have to sit out and dry for a day.  Some recipes say at least 24 hours.  Mine dried for about 18, but it is very dry in my house right now.  The purpose of this step is to make sure the decoration sets so that it will not get distorted when it is baked.

When they are ready, they are baked at quite a low temperature for awhile until they are firm and have a characteristic foot.

Can you see how there’s space between each cookie in the stack?  That’s the foot that happens when the cookies are baked.  Because the top and sides are dried, the only way for the cookie to rise is from underneath.

Now, to be honest, we have never had a Springerle cookie before these, so we have no standard by which to judge these and no idea how they were going to taste.  And, I have to say that these are unlike any cookie that any of us have ever had.

They have a pleasant sweet citrus flavor (from the orange zest and fiori di Sicilia extract that I used in the dough), but it was the texture that was different to us.  The best way we could think of to describe it is to compare it to eating a dense marshmallow.  Soft and chewy.  Somewhere between a french macaroon and a dense cake.

In the end, I’ve decided that I love them.  Not only are they absolutely beautiful, but they are easy to make and also tasty.  Today, even though I have several other cookie options in the house, I chose this one to go with my afternoon tea.  Part of the reason could be because of the absence of butter.  In a way, it feels like a healthy cookie, but that’s never been a criteria for a good cookie for me.  Ultimately, it comes down to taste and these taste really good and they have a pleasant chewiness that keeps me going back for more.

If you want to try making these, here’s a link to the recipe I used.  Just a note:  for some of the cookies, I rolled the dough over some anise seeds because anise is a traditional Springerle flavor.

And here’s a link to the cookie stamps.

And, lastly, a link to some more traditional Springerle stamps.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the Christmas treat box giveaway!  Tell me how you are getting ready for Christmas this weekend.

Day 2: Pains d’Amande

Or Brown Sugar Almond Slices.

I’ve come across this recipe a number of times in my endless trolling for cookie recipes online and I even have the book that it was originally published in.  By all accounts, it is a perfect cookie.  Nutty, buttery, crisp and perfect with tea or coffee.  It’s also a good keeper and the recipe makes a huge batch of cookies so that you can keep most of the dough in the freezer for cookie emergencies.  I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to try this recipe, actually, since so many bakers that I respect have raved about this cookie.  But, better late to the party than never, right?

The dough comes together quite easily and then you press it all into a square pan.  Place in the fridge to firm up overnight.

Then, the next day, you can slice them up.

And bake them.  I only baked a quarter of my dough, which made roughly three dozen.  The rest I wrapped and froze for the future.  This was a really good recipe to kick off the cookie baking season here.

It’s quite a good cookie, though not fancy to look at.  The little bit of spice makes it more than just an almond butter cookie.   I suspect that this is one of those cookies that doesn’t impress you at first, but is instead the reliable one that you can count on when a cookie situation arises.  It’s the type of cookie that you can eat everyday of the year and not get tired of it, which makes it actually quite special indeed.

Recipe for Pains d’Amande can be found here.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the drawing.  More details here.  Tell me, What cookie can you eat everyday and never get tired of?

 

12 Days of Christmas Treats Giveaway, Day 1

It’s that time of year again.  You know, that time when I drop everything and make stuff like crazy for Christmas.  This year, my friends, I was not really sure if I could pull this off.  As you can see, I haven’t exactly been posting a lot lately.  It’s  a trend I have been noticing with a lot of blogs.  We only have so much free time in a day and  as the online options expanded to include such things as Instagram and Snapchat, blog writing went on a decline.  For me, it’s not because I am busy on other platforms that have kept me from blogging–it’s more that homeschooling is taking up more and more of my time and attention every year.  That’s as it should be since we have long since past the stages of finger painting and basic arithmetic. However, I miss coming here and chatting about things I have been working on.  So, I decided that this would not be the year that I give up my annual tradition of giving a box of goodies away.

In the past, I have had a theme (breads, cookies, candies, and last year it was diy gifts).  This year, I think I am going to be more general and say it’s the 12 Days of Christmas Baking.

It’s no secret that I love to bake and also no secret that I love to try new recipes.  No matter how many tried and true recipes I accumulate, I am always ready and looking to try new things I haven’t made before.   Even new versions of old classics catch my attention.  So, this year you can expect to see some new things I haven’t made before mixed with a few easier versions of goodies I have made in the past.

As usual, I will be giving away a box of goodies accumulated over the next 12 days from all the crafting and baking. Just like last year’s give away, you may enter by leaving one comment per post. Only one comment per person will be counted per post, but if you leave a comment for all twelve days, you will be entered twelve times! The box will mostly likely include many of the treats featured in the posts, but perhaps not all of them because not everything travels well or keeps well. Plus, I will be trying some new recipes, so there may be a flop or two. However, I will try to ensure that the winner has a nice variety! Because of perishability issues, I will have to limit this to a domestic (that is, just the United States) contest. Comments on all 12 posts must be received by noon on December 19, eastern standard time. I will pick a winner at random on the 19th and hope to ship on the 20th.

Today, I am going to start off really easy with this Sweet and Spicy Pretzel and Nut Mix recipe from Food52.

I first made this the week before Thanksgiving and we all loved it so much that it was gone in a week.  With that first batch, I dialed back the cayenne pepper quite a bit.  We loved how it wasn’t too sweet, but also not too savory.  It’s perfect for this time of year when sometimes there is just too much sweetness going on.  I think it will be perfect to snack on during the upcoming marathon baking sessions.

Today’s batch has about 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne along with 1/2 teaspoon of coarsely ground Korean chili pepper powder.  This batch is considerably more spicy, though I would not say it’s overwhelming.  I also added about a cup of chopped dried apricots to give the mix a fruity dimension.

The thing that I love about this recipe is that it is super easy.  You toast some nuts.  While the nuts are toasting, you mix up the flavorings in a big bowl.  Then, toss all the nuts and pretzels together, put everything back in the oven to bake for a little while, and then it’s done.  Easy Peasy.

This batch will be gone before the 12 days is done, but it’s so easy that I am sure I will be making another batch.  I think it will look pretty in a clear bag tied with a bright ribbon for gifting as well.

Leave me a comment to be entered to win a box full of Baked  Christmas treats.  Tell me what your favorite snack is so I can try that, too!  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Autumn Bright

We were worried that the summer drought we had would have a negative effect on the autumn colors.  If it did, it was hard for us to see.  All the colors looked bright to us.

On sunny days, the leaves glowed and the moderate weather has allowed them to take their time leaving.

It’s no secret that autumn is my favorite time of year.

In our new house, we have finally got the fireplace up and running.  Can you just feel the coziness?

I have been doing a bit of baking and really enjoying it.  Soon, I may have a recipe or two to share.

This is a sweet cinnamon version of pane bianco.  I used way too much filling, but other than that it was a total success.  Next time, I will use less filling and cut the dough less shallowly.  That might help it not to leak all over the pan.

In knitting news, things are more neutral that the view outside.  There are lots of greys going on.

I started an Owls sweater and have made it through the first set of waist shaping only to abandon it for a smaller project.

A hat made with two natural shades of shetland.  I am testing out the gauge of this yarn from Ross Family Farm.  It’s supposed to be sport weight, but I found it is closer to a dk or light worsted.  This revelation has changed my plans for this yarn somewhat and it must go back to the drawing board, so I threw this project aside as well.

And cast on a cowl with more grey yarn.  All this greyness is going to backfire on me soon.  With the time change and the leaves mostly gone, the view from my window is getting more dreary.  But, I will try to persevere with one of these knitting projects.  Views like this will keep me going for a few more days at least.

 

Barely

Amazingly, my Rhinebeck sweaters are done.  Last week, I was seaming this one.

Early this week, I was back to working on the second sleeve for this one.

Yesterday, I steam blocked and sewed.

Today, I finished the collar with the last of my yarn that I had to unwind from the gauge swatch that I did.  That was a close one!

They had a bath and are now drying with the help of a fan.

As I was suddenly without any knitting this afternoon, I immediately cast on another sweater, this time with bulky yarn.

If you see me at Rhinebeck, say Hi!