Monday, April 01, 2013

Springerle Love (or What I did with my new KitchenAid Pro 600)

So my husband got a nice bonus, & with it, one of the things he bought me was this KitchenAid Pro 600.  Cool thing is, since we found it on eBay (see the sexy eBay pic... I didn't take one from it sitting in my kitchen, because it's all covered in flour & such.......because I have been USING it......a LOT), he also gave me some extra money to buy anything I wanted.  Anything at all? Yes, ANYthing ~ well, except bills.  That was the one stipulation ~ no bills.  So what did I DO with that extra money?
Well ~ let me tell you ~
I bought springerle molds.
Now if you are anything like Wood Genius, you might say to yourself ( or me) "springerle molds?  what the heck are springerle molds?  You spent ALL of it at one place... on MOLDS?"
And I would have to say
And then point to the very FUN & COOL cookies below & say
"DOUBLE heck yes!"
So what on earth started such an adventure, you might then ask.  And I would then have to implicate my dear sweet sister.  Yes, Sister Larson, that would be you. ;~D
Remember that really cool carved rolling pin you showed me about a year ago?  Well, it's been mulling about in my brain-thingy. And then one day I decided to look up springerle on the ever-useful world wide web.
And do you know what I found?
These molds are just AMAZING!
I also ordered molds from several different companies, & I have to say ~ Springerle Baker's molds win hands down for ease of use,  ( ESPECIALLY for a total brand new, NEVER done it before springerle maker!), repeated moldings, & clean-up afterword.  They seem to be made of a type of dental resin, and all you have to do for PERFECT moldings is dust them (Lightly!) with powdered sugar before each use. 

Here is the most intricate one I own, a Nativity... a very very OLD Nativity, & I never had any sticking or clogging of the design.  Talk about a joy to use!

This is one of 6 scenes from "Life of Christ".  They are so beautiful, & since there are 6 different scenes, you only have to mold once ( with even pressure, of course) in order to get 6 cookies. 

Here is a plate of more of the 6 scenes from "the Life of Christ" mold.  If you click on the pic, it will enlarge, & you can see the tremendous detail in the cookies.  Also, if you look carefully, you can see my still flour-y counter, because, in my excitement to get a picture, yes, I did NOT clean off the counter.  Besides, I was still hot in the middle of making a second batch. And this was my first (EVER!!!) batch, with chocolate.  (Recipe given at the bottom of this post.)

 You see, springerle cannot be made all on the same day.  It takes a little planning ahead.  The first day, you make the dough & cut the shapes.  You have to let them dry overnight ~ really, I found out that even here, in Idaho, in this lovely arid desert, you STILL have to let them dry AT LEAST 12 hours.  Better if you let them go for 20.  So start early in the morning on the first day, and bake them in the evening the second day.
 Look carefully at the cookie with Christ appearing to the Nephites ( ok, so that's probably NOT what the 17th century carver meant by this, it's probably supposed to be Christ appearing in his resurrected form to his Apostles after the 3 days of darkness....) anyway... see the cracks? It had formed a thin crust, with a hollow underneath the crust.   I talked to Ken Hamilton ( Theee Springerle Baker ~such a nice guy, by the way!), & he said he thinks that might be due to several things, which I narrowed down to too hot of an oven, so cooking them too quickly too hot.  And that was at 300*F. With a spoon in the oven door to crack it open.  I also believe they did not quite dry long enough, since I was oh-so-anxious to have them ready to go.
Gorgeous Lily of the Valley design.  This one is a showstopper.  It uses a lot of dough, & therefore makes a good-sized cookie, but it is GORGEOUS!  Enlarge this pic to fully appreciate the depth of this beautiful cookie!  I was so excited when I saw this one, & believe me, so was everyone else!

Here are some more fun designs.  Another scene from the Life of Christ, as well as the Kranke flower basket & the Diamond Sun.  I love the diamond sun one, as it looks like a Sun Stone to me.  Very beautiful, & full of detail, as is the basket.

 Here is the Champvert double leaf mold.  When you first see the mold, you may think that it will not give very good results, because it doesn't look as deep as some of the others, however, this cookie is such a beautiful one!  It has a great dimensional shape, & when it bakes, it sort of "pops".  I pressed a whole bunch of them, just because they look so cool.
Here you can see a very pretty jumping stag in the bottom center of the plate.  I bought this single mold from Springerle Joy, and although it actually was a better LOOKING mold, it didn't seem to have the depth or non-clogging ability.  I had to repeatedly use my fingernail to clear his hind leg from both powdered sugar & dough.  I might add that the molds from each of the different places seem to be made of different materials.  This stag mold ( which I bought because my maiden name is Buck, from the Du Buccies (sp?!) who apparently killed a giant & guarded a forest ....sweet, eh) was made of some sort of plastic, & was painted to look like wood as well as to accent the cavities.

If you look over about 3 o'clock (center right), you can see a sweet little strawberry & vines cookie.  You can also see the really bad cut-out jobs I did, because I didn't have any fancy cutters, only some old tart tins that mostly fit around the designs in various ways.  Looking at these plates of cookies makes me think of that fun book & game series called "I Spy".  :~D
Can you count 3 baby Jesus'? Can you count 6 angels?  How about 2 stars?

This is my plate of mess-ups.  Hollow crusts, REALLY poorly cut, funky centering ~ you know, just good excuses to get some tasters.  ;~D  Check out the little boy on a rocking horse, the miniature oval lily of the valley, & the Mary & baby Jesus.  These little cookies are just larger than a quarter, & yet STILL packed with details!  Can you imagine the original carver?  What tremendous skill!  What talented hands! What good eyesight!  (...What big TEETH you have....All the better to EAT you with my dear!...I don't know, my brain just goes there....)

All right, so all of the previous cookies were a chocolate variation (& very tasty, by the way, if you make them, you won't be dissapointed!), & these next pics are of the lemon flavor.  (My goal today... to make the traditional anise flavor.)  Check out these beautiful diamond suns ~ When I molded them & cut them out, I really didn't think they were going to be very detailed in the face, however, just like the champvert dbl leaf mold, once they dried & baked, they REALLY popped.

Here you can see that just as in card-making, sewing & felt work, proper centering REALLY does MATTER.  Even a piece of art such as this miniature Nativity can look slightly shoddy & amature-ish when improperly cut or centered.  (I DID manage to find a fluted cutter set today, however, & I am totally excited to use them & see how much better everything turns out.)

This awesome cookie mold (Good Morning Rooster) is also from the Spingerle Baker, & although it's supposed to be from an ancient carving, to me, it fits in PERFECTLY with all of my 1920's & 1930's stuff.  This is a design that makes me think of those very first cornflakes cereal ads that show up in my vintage "Women's Home Companion" magazines.  (See the ears of corn on the right in the border design?)

This next lot of pics are just some more close-ups of the same designs already mentioned.  I did get two wooden springerle boards off of eBay, ~(which came stinking to high heaven, by the way!  I had to carefully toothbrush the cracks like mad, wash them down really well in a thyme essential oil & hot water solution, without soaking them, dry them off immediately, let them dry completely & then grapeseed oil the heck out them in order to get them clean.  I don't reccomend buying them off of eBay for actual baking purposes for this reason.  You just don't know where they have been.)~ as well as 2 speculaas boards, & some molds from a Swiss manufacturer that have not gotten here yet, & when they do, I will write up how well their molds work as well.  I am also planning on ordering 3 new handcarved wooden boards, & will do the same for those.

On of the funnest things about making these beautiful cookies is that they are BEAUTIFUL.  I can't stress it enough ~ they are simply stunning.  If you have a wedding, (yes, Sister Larson, now would be an appropriate "I told you so" moment, you DID tell me so when I was planning the wedding ~ duly noted! ;~D) bridal shower, luncheon, church event, Relief Society meeting, birthday, etc ~ I guarantee, Springerle cookies will very well do the trick!  And with that, I now move onto the recipe portion of my post.

Here's the deal with Springerle.  They are light, airy, sort of sweet, & yet not at all over-powering.  A little like a sugar-cookie / shortbread, and yet so not.  I got this recipe from Ken Hamilton, over at his site The Springerle Baker, & tweeked it slightly for the chocolate flavor.   I can tell you that this recipe may be a bit of work (remember, you have to plan it out, give yourself 2 days (or more, can actually be lots more, months more) BEFORE your event for best results.  The drying time is CRITICAL.  If they don't dry, you lose too much of the beautiful molding.

Now keep in mind that while white springerle is stunningly beautiful, I have also seen green, pink, yellow, my own chocolate flavor (with cocoa powder, a tannish beige color), & even blue or lavender.  I guess the point is, these cookies don't have to be just white.  And in fact, just imagine a lovely lavender plate of cookies at a little girls tea party, with green & violet accents.  Simply beautiful!

Now For the recipe.
 I found baker's ammonia on eBay, but I only used it in the lemon version. I acutally used baking soda in this chocolate version, simply because I didn't have the ammonia yet.  They both need to be dissolved in warm to very warm water, & the ammonia kind of stinks a little bit till & at very first, when the cookies are baking(it totally dissipates as it bakes) ~ however ~ I noticed that the main difference between the two was the dough's slightly more "springy" nature,  & a little crisper crusting.  The ammonia seems to make the dough slightly more "springy spongy" inside & yet crispy on the outside.  Not sure if I am relating this properly, but I do like the results of the ammonia  a little better.  Of course baking soda is readily available & works almost as well. 

Here is my chocolate version of Ken Hamilton's recipe:

1/2 tsp baker's ammonia (Hartshorn), dissolved in
2 TBSP very warm water
6 large eggs (at room temp, set them out night before & don't worry~ fresh eggs can go 3 weeks on the counter, overnight is fine)
6 Cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 Cup dutched cocoa powder ( sift this in with 1 or 2 cups of the powdered sugar)
1/2 Cup softened unsalted butter ( I used salted, still tasted great)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ( or dram) flavoring of your choice (more if desired) ~ I used 1 dram of LeAnn's chocolate flavor
8 Cups sifted cake flour, more as needed (in Idaho or similar high altitude climates, I reccomend using only 8 cups & if something needs to be worked into the dough to make it slightly stiffer, dust some pwdered sugar on it & knead in, otherwise you'll end up with flour-flavored bricks.)

Dissolve hartshorn OR baking soda in the very warm water & set aside.
Beat eggs till thick & lemon-colored. (10-20 minutes~ in my KA Pro600 it took about 13 min's on 6)
Sift cocoa powder with 1 or 2 cups of powdered sugar, slowly beat it in.
Slowly beat in remaining powdered sugar, then softened butter.
Add the dissolved hartshorn/water OR dissolved baking powder/ water solution.
Add in the salt,
Add in the flavoring.
Let this mix on medium speed for about 30 minutes or more.  (I had to go to Young Women's Conference broadcast right at this point in the recipe, so I turned it off,  soaked a kitchen towel in hot water, draped it around the top of the bowl & the machine, so that it was well covered, left for 2 1/2 hours, came back, turned it back on, mixing it for the thirty minutes, and it was still BEAUTIFUL dough.  What an awesome recipe!)
Now turn down your mixer to 2, & gradually beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. ( I got to about 6 cups, & then I  kneaded in the rest, that way, I could more easily guage how much flour the  dough needed, without overdoing it.  High altitude usually needs less flour.)
Test a print to see if it needs more or sticks.  You want a good print without sticking.

Put most of your dough into a bowl & put a bit of tin foil over it so that the dough is covered, won't dry out, but is still easy to get at. 
Sprinkle counter with pwdr sugar, plop your dough down, & sprinkle the top of dough ball with a little more pdr sugar.
Roll it out to about 1/4" thick, little thicker for deeper designs.
Now take your pastry brush & brush off any remaining powdered sugar.  This is really important, because you want a nice smooth surface for the best results. Isn't that a beautiful dough?!
Brush your mold with a bit of powdered sugar, but only a bit, again, you don't want the sugar to fill up the cavities, only to provide a release.  (This dough works SO beautifully with the molds from The Springerle Baker!  I cannot stress enough how awesome his molds are & well they release the dough with a perfect printing.)
Place the mold onto the dough, and press evenly & firmly down.  There is no need to wiggle, pound or grind the dough into the mold.  And, you don't need to whack the mold on the counter for release, either.  Remember that if you have the suction action of the entire counter working against one little mold, the counter will win, and the mold will release.
So get your finger tips sort of under on the design side of the mold & peel the mold up on one end,  (is peel the right word here?....sort of, although the molds are NOT flexible at all, yet you still sort of peel them...), lifting it slowly, slowly, evenly, evenly.  ;~D 
Off the mold will come, & you will have a perfect print!
Now cut out each as you make them!  Otherwise, you will be sad to see that your hard work & valiant efforts are in vain as they squish eachother around & ruin the lovely pictures.  (Ask me how I found this out, & please refer back to my sad mess-up plate for proof ;~D)
Place each beautiful piece of picture dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment, (if you use a stainless cutter/chopper flat kitchen blade doo-hickey to lift them, you can maintain perfection all the way to the cookie sheet).

After pressing your springerle, allow them to dry for between 12-24 hours before baking.  This allows the image to crust over & thus prevents it from being distorted as it cooks.
Bake at 225*F to 300*F till barely golden on the bottom, 15-30 minutes ( sometimes more if very large cookies).  Here in Idaho, high altitude again, I really reccomend LESS than 300*F, as it seemed to bake my cookies too fast, with too high of heat, thus creating a raised hollow, where the crust & body of the cookie separated, making a hollow area.
Store in airtight containers.
They keep for weeks, & improve with age, but become hard as rocks.


Sophie Holmes said...

Those are really beautiful. I have never seen cookies like that before! Just gorgeous, it seems a shame to eat them... :-)

Well Done!

Jennifer Saks said...

Your cookies are beautiful!

Many people put a piece of apple in the container with Springerle or Lebkuchen or other cookies that turn pretty hard with time. I don't care for the apple taste this imparts to the cookie. Have you tried (or heard of) something else that works equally well without changing the flavor of the cookie?

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