December 12, 2010

Pfeffernusse, Springerle and Pomanders!

Guten Tag! Hello!
We started baking the pfeffernusse, or "pepper nuts", yesterday and finished making the springerle today. I was, once again, reminded that Germans must really adore anise. It's in their liquor and their cookies. I actually like anise and so do my children which is kind of interesting. It's a taste that you either like or hate.
Again, I had some little helpers in the kitchen. Susie helped me roll out the pfeffernusse into logs. We made them really, really small like pencils because it's fun to have little cookies.

Then, we put the dough logs into the freezer for a bit so that they would get really hard so that we could cut them into little,tiny cookies. The girls waited patiently for them to bake.

Finally, it was time to taste a few. And, we were pleasantly surprised. They had a light anise taste (we used a secret ingredient) and they were actually really, really good!!!!

Here's a little tidbit of information about Pfeffernusse cookies from Wikipedia.

Pepernoten are originally a Dutch treat, baked during 'Sinterklaas', a feast on 5 December (6 December in Belgium and Germany) on which little children receive gifts from the holy St. Nicholas, the partial inspiration for Santa Claus. In Germany, Pfeffernüsse are traditionally made during the Christmas season.

Next on the menu, were Springerle cookies. I love to eat these but I have never, ever attempted to make them. Last year I found, of all things, a springerle mold at our goodwill store. I bought it and decided that I should try it out. It worked pretty good, except the pictures were kind of crazy. Lighthouses, cherry blossoms and I think a donkey head. I don't know what the significance is of these things, but they did turn out pretty good. So, my apolgies in advance if I give you a donkey head cookie for Christmas. Please don't take it personally.
The dough kind of reminded me of some type of ancient sanscript. It was pretty fun to do actally. The only hard part is that these cookies are time consuming. After you imprint the image, you have to cut them out and then let them dry overnight so that when you bake them the image stays. But they turn out so beautiful looking, even with crazy pictures stamped on them. Success!

The name springerle means "little jumper" or "little knight". Their origin can be traced back to at least the 14th century in southeastern Germany and surrounding areas.
The stamping technique may be derived from the molds used in some Christian traditions to mark sacramental bread, and the earliest molds featured religious motifs, including scenes from Bible stories and Christian symbols. Later, in the 17th and 18th century, heraldic themes of knights and fashionably dressed ladies became popular. Themes of happiness, love, weddings, and fertility remained popular through the 19th century.

Last, but not least, we made some orange pomanders to put on our matel. They were a great activity for the children and they smell so wonderful! Other than making orange pomanders, what are whole cloves used for anyway?

Our day of German baking and crafts is completed and there is still so much more I'd like to make. We'll see what we can do in the next few days.....


Shannon M. said...

You know, Mary did ride on the back of a donkey. And you're right, you either like it or you don't. My mom loves it, I on the other hand don't.

Anonymous said...

What? No Lebkuchen? That's our family cookie recipe. . . and Springerle (in which my Dad doubles the anise)!


Linda said...

Micah, I wish we could bake together. I miss you. If you were here, I would make Lebkuchen.