Springerle: the making of a classic holiday cookie

Do you know what springerle are?

Traditionally leavened with hartshorn (baker’s ammonia) and flavored with anise or lemon, these pretty embossed cookies date back to 14th-century Germany. The intricate molds that shape them are typically carved from wood.

Some of the earliest molds depict Bible stories. Imagery evolved to include scenes of everyday life, seasonal motifs, people, and animals. Since the cookies can be time consuming to prepare, they’re often associated with special occasions.

SpriSpringerle via @kingarthurflourngerle via @kingarthurflour

Antique, reproduction, and contemporary molds – and the cookies they produce – delight collectors and bakers with their variety of shapes, sizes, and designs.

So how do we reinvent an age-old tradition for our modern holidays? With a nod to the past.

I’ve had the pleasure of designing some of our holiday cookie cutters for several seasons, including our truck with tree cutter and polar bear cutter. Beginning two years ago, we branched out into custom springerle molds; I designed our limited edition New England-inspired covered bridge scene last year.

This past February, as the catalog team began tossing holiday ideas around, product manager Liz Fairley suggested this year’s springerle mold could evoke memories of spending chilly nights gathered in front of a cozy hearth. She shared with me a handful of images of vintage holiday cards, each depicting a luminous fireplace.

Springerle via @kingarthurflour

Pure warmth. The spirit of the season.

Springerle via @kingarthurflour

I pulled my favorite elements from the images – a glimpse of a Christmas tree here, stockings hung with care there, a few boughs of holly from one, clock and candles from another, and cozy little critters curled in front of the fire – and blended them into a few sketches to share with the team.

Some lively discussion followed, as others picked their favorite elements from my designs and added their suggestions. We all liked the oval shape, which mirrors last year’s custom design. Also the puppy and the cat. And the arched fireplace.

Springerle via @kingarthurflour

So I went back to the drawing board and sketched some more. A few tweaks later and this was the design we picked to send to the manufacturer for the next stage of the process.

The manufacturer, charged with hand-carving an original wooden mold prior to production, weighed in on the design and suggested some modifications. They sent us their modified sketch for approval. The carver carved, and the scene came to life as he readied a sample for production.

Springerle via @kingarthurflour

Weeks later, we had our springerle molds.

Proudly made right here is the USA, our molds are individually cast from a resin and wood composite. They’re crisply detailed, sturdy replicas of the original wooden carving. Each is poured and finished by hand, and topped with an eyelet for hanging. The result is a beautiful tool that can be used and enjoyed year after year, with a variety of recipes.

Springerle via @kingarthurflour

For instance, Speculaas Spiced Springerle features our own custom blend of a traditional holiday spice from the Netherlands.

And these recipes use other seasonal favorite flavors – Fiori di Sicilia Springerle; Gingerbread Springerle Shortbread, and Chocolate Pumpkin Spiced Springerle.

Springerle via @kingarthurflour

Our more traditional recipe for Holiday Springerle is laced with anise or lemon oil for authentic flavor.

Finally, our Springerle Shortbread recipe, while certainly not traditional, offers a simple and delicious alternative for enjoying your favorite springerle molds.

Are you ready to try your hand at springerle cookies? We’re sure you’ll find something you can’t resist in our collection of springerle molds. Happy holiday baking!

Brook Lewis
About

Brook Lewis was raised in Vermont and graduated from the University of Vermont before moving back to her hometown, close by King Arthur Flour’s headquarters in Norwich. She’s worked for King Arthur Flour for 6 years, and is currently the visual merchandising manager. She lives ...

comments

  1. EL

    I note that your recipes say to cut around the molded scenes with a knife, but as you are making your own molds, shouldn’t you also make a cutter that could cut the final stamped cookie out? That would make life much easier — especially as your design is an oval.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, we understand. I have taken note and will speak with our Merchandising Team. Thank you for your feedback! Elisabeth@KAF

  2. Debora

    They make sets of oval cutters perhaps you could carry the set like they have on another site recommended by House on the Hill.
    Personally I prefer to use my deeply cut Italian fluted pasta wheel – to make a pretty edge.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Anne, I suspect we will have a similar rolling pin next holiday season, as these items are always popular at Christmas. Barb@KAF

  3. Laurin

    I have always loved the idea of springerle, but dislike when the mold details get blurred as the cookie bakes. I saw the bottom photo of this post with the strong, clear-cut holiday motifs and lovely borders, and clicked through to the KAF Springerle mold selection…. and was very disappointed that the molds used for these cookies are not for sale. Did I miss them – were they for sale earlier in the season? If so, will you carry them again?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We do have the Cozy Hearth Custom Springerle (item 11318) available, as well as a handful of the full set 12 Days of Christmas (item 11681). Call our customer service reps at 800-827-6836 and we can advise on availability, and other questions about the molds. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  4. Jason

    Between baker’s ammonia and baking soda, baker’s ammonia springerle tastes better. I noticed you do not have the baker’s ammonia recipe. Why not?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jason, most of our springerle recipes do not include any leavener at all, as we want to the design of the mold to stay as prominent as possible. Our Speculass Spiced Springerle recipe does call for a small amount of baking soda to add a tiny bit of lift. You’re welcome to use baker’s ammonia instead of baking soda if you like — we find it’s such a small amount it’s difficult to tell a difference in the final products. We’ll have to do a blind taste test among our bakers and see what happens! Thanks for the suggestion. Kye@KAF

  5. Susan

    I use a recipe that came with my carved wood Springerle rolling pin from Switzerland & find it produces a product identical to my childhood memories from my grandmother’s house at Christmas. It’s all auf Deutsch with metric measures, will provide translations:

    4-5 Eier (eggs) 220g (7.04oz)
    500g (16oz) Puderzucker (powdered/10X sugar)
    1 EL/Esslöffle (Tablespoon) Kirschwasser
    1 EL (Tbsp) gereinigter und leicht gerösteter (crushed & lightly roasted) Anis (seed)
    500g (16oz) feines Weissmehl (cake flour) (Guinevere was perfect before you d/c’d it)

    Prepare, roll, impress, dry for 24 hrs, bake 150-160 degrees C (300deg F) for 30min.

    Please let me know if you’d like the full instructions auf Deutsch (or my awkward translation.)

    Reply
  6. Suzanne Cotter

    Hi! I just made up a recipe of your Springerle Holiday recipe…..I don’t see it listed anymore, so I must have printed it close to a year ago, but it’s 3 large eggs, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp anise oil, lemon oil or flavor of choice, and 3 cups KA Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

    I can only say that this recipe MUST be meant for very small molds!!!! I followed directions precisely, and the MOST cookies I could make with my two- 3 & 3/4″ molds was 21 cookies……nowhere near 2 1/2 to 3 dozen!!!!!! This was/is my first attempt, so I was rather shocked, as no size was mentioned!!!! The cookies are in their overnight drying out stage as I write…..and they molded and cut pretty decently. Hopefully they will finish up OK tomorrow afternoon!!! I bought these molds specifically to try making these cookies…..had I known there would be so little yield, I would have bought smaller molds, as they are fairly pricey!! Might I suggest you print what size molds to use for the Springerle recipes!!!!?? Thank you!!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Suzanne, it sounds like you might have used this recipe for Springerle Shortbread, which has a yield of 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on size. We use prints of varying size, but in the case of this recipe, we used an Evergreen mold that was about 2 1/2″ by 3 1/2″. If you’re experiencing a lower yield, it may be that the dough is rolled a bit thicker than the 1/4″ called for. Feel free to roll the cookies thinner next time in order to make more, or simply make a double batch of the dough. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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