Springerlel

Traditional Austrian Cookies That Have Christmas Scenes Printed on Them – Springerle

Cookies come in shapes and sizes and from different cultures. The ones that come from Austria are unique. There are white cookies that have the flavour of anise, and they are called springerle. These cookies come from Austria and Bavaria. They have been a tradition in those countries for several hundred years. They are made from a dough that’s composed of flour, eggs, and sugar. The cookies are typically shaped in a circular or rectangular form. There is a design or picture on the top of the cookie, which is the most unique feature of these cookies. The way they imprint the diagrams or pictures on top is by using a rolling pin that is carved or moulds, like specialized Springerle boards or presses. When the cookies are done being baked, there will usually be food colouring added on the cookies. But if they’re meant to be decorations only, then there will be acrylic paint added onto the cookies instead.

The History of Springerle

The name of the cookies comes from a dialect of German that came from a long time ago. Springerle means jumping horse or little knight. There are traces in history that says that the cookies originated in a celebration held by pagan Germanic tribes in the middle of winter. That celebration was called Julfest, which involved animal sacrifices to their gods. They sacrificed the animals hoping for winter to be mild and spring to come sooner. Those who couldn’t sacrifice any animals, mostly poor people, instead gave sacrifices in the form of cookies or bread that were in the shape of animals.

Springerle
Springerle

The Springerle cookies have their beginnings in the fifteenth century in Swabia, which is a German province. They were initially baked as a way to honour the Holy Days in the church. But in recent times, they are instead cookies that you bake for Christmas. There are cookies which use the same methodology but not the same moulding. The oldest Springerle mould known to exist currently is a carved wooden mould that dates back to the fourteenth century. The mould is round, and it has a picture of the lamb of Easter. The mould comes from a monastery located in Wil, St. Gallen, which was dedicated to St. Katherine. The mould can now be found in Zurich’s Swiss national museum.

How Springerle Is Made

The recipes for springerle that are traditionally used contain baker’s ammonia, which is generally known as hartshorn salt, for their leavening agent. But it can be challenging to find baker’s ammonia, so nowadays, people will use baking powder instead for their leavening agent. When the springerle is made using baker’s ammonia, the cookies will be softer and lighter than when it is made using baking powder. The design will be crisper, and the cookie will last longer if baker’s ammonia is used in the baking of the springerle. The height of the biscuit is more than doubled during the baking process because of the leavening.

It isn’t that difficult to make springerle if you know how to do it right. The way people use to make springerle is quite simple. First, they get stiff cold dough is thinly rolled then pressed down onto a mould, or by getting rolled over by a specially carved rolling pin. Then, the dough gets unmoulded and is dried for around 24 hours before it gets baked on anise-dusted, greased baking sheets at a low temperature. The time it needs for drying is so that the cookie’s pattern will have time to set.