From the category archives:

General

Cleaning Cookie Presses

by connie on August 8, 2016

 

So you’ve made a few batches of pressed cookies and they are safely drying on the dining room table. The work is not over. It’s time to clean your cookie molds. You want to treat both original wood carvings and resin/wood molds just as you would any fine wood product.Read on. Of course it is easier to clean them right after use, but I’ll give you some tips in case you let the dough dry into the corners of the carving too.

BrushSoapyWaterStart by preparing a bowl of warm soapy water and collecting some terrycloth towels and a mushroom brush. The mushroom brush is a soft bristled brush that has enough surface area  to clean more square inches at a time, but you can also use a soft bristled toothbrush. Just make sure it’s soft so you don’t scratch the surface of your cookie mold. NEVER soak the molds in the water.

ScrubMoldDip the brush into the soapy water. Gently, but thoroughly scrub the floury mold with the brush. Turn the mold in all four directions to get into the carving at different angles. Keep scrubbing until you think you have gotten every crevice.

 

 

Do the same for larger and/or multiple image molds. You will just have more surface area to scrub.

 

 

RinseMold

 

 

 

Rinse the cookie mold under warm running water. Remember DO NOT SOAK  the molds. Over exposure to water will soften the finish on the mold, just as it would on your wooden furniture.

 

 

CheckforDough

 

Now check  for stubborn spots of dough you may have missed. Or you may have cookie molds that have dried dough in them from previous use. Drip a drop of water on the spot, let it soften for a minute.

 

CleanWithToothpick

 

 

With a round wooden toothpick, gently pick out the dough. Do not use flat toothpicks (they splinter easily) or metal tools such as skewers or needles (they scratch the surface of the molds). Repeat the drop of water again if needed. Repeat gentle scrubbing and rinsing until the mold is clean.

 

PatTerryTowelPat the rinsed mold with a terrycloth towel being sure to push into the deep parts of the carving. I use cotton terrycloth shop cloths that I buy at a big box store.

 

 

 

LayOnTowel

 

Lay the clean molds on a dry terrycloth. You can put the terrycloth towel on a cooling rack for better air circulation, especially if you have many molds to dry and the weather is humid.

 

Let the molds dry completely. Overnight is good. You never want to store the molds with any moisture on them. If you store the molds in sealed bags or containers, any moisture remaining will harm the finish. I have many molds that I hang on my wall, and others that I store in bubble bags placed in plastic totes. However you store them, store them DRY.

Good care of your cookie molds will make them last years and removing dried dough from the recesses of the mold will yeild clearer cookie prints.

 

{ 8 comments }

Summer Weather Cooperates

by connie on June 29, 2016

I got lucky with the weather this week. I often have to force summer into autumn by turning the thermostat to lower numbers and cranking the dehumidifier into high gear. Two cooler days with night temperatures in the 50’s led to a double batch frenzy of Springerle pressing. I am needing some cookies for photography and am so happy to open the windows and turn off the air conditioner for this task. I didn’t have time for a dip in the pool anyway. And I won’t mind turning on the oven.

Blog2_06292016

{ 0 comments }

Easter Arrives Early

by connie on March 17, 2016

Blog3172016EASTERCOOKIE-copy

Easter really comes up fast when it is in late March. The weather might not fully cooperate for those planned Easter Egg hunts. While my children were always so delighted with snow in December, snow was not so welcome at Easter. Oh to miss the fun of the egg hunt was such a disappointment! Outdoor hunts were so much more fun and longer events than the indoor variety. Just in case, bake some cookies to paint for Easter. You can bake them now, store in highly sealed cookie tins to paint next week. Or if it happens to be cold and wet, get out the aprons, the old sheets and let the kids paint cookies on their spring break. Think daffodils, sunshine and new beginnings.

For a review my tutorial on how to paint cookies with gel colors http://www.springerlecookies.com/2014/03/needed-spring-color/

Celebrate the beauty of spring,

Connie

{ 0 comments }

It’s Really, Really Cold!

by connie on January 5, 2015

Yes, it is really cold here in Chicagoland and that means it’s perfect for making Springerle (or any cookies for that matter). So put on your wool socks and make some cookie making plans. These are perfect conditions for drying Springerle cookies and then turning on that oven the next day.

Generally, the weather in January is more cooperative than November and December. And most of us have more time then we had then too. And it’s a great reason to put off doing your taxes too!

Happy Baking!

Connie

{ 7 comments }

This Old Mixer

by connie on June 30, 2014

ThisOldMixerPretty soon,  I am going to have to say “Good Bye!” to this old mixer. It’s a Kitchen Aid made by Hobart.  I am pretty sure this mixer is from the mid to late 70’s, but with no serial number, it is hard to pinpoint the year. Based on a google search, the Model K5-A mixer has been in production since the 40’s and the white cord indicates the late 70’s.

I can hear its motor straining, especially when I make Springerle dough. This old mixer’s zip and speed is gone. Several weeks ago I cut down the batch to two thirds size to relieve the strain on the motor. I tried to buy additional bowls and beaters more than 10 years ago and this bowl size was not available even then. It will be bittersweet, because the mixer has given me many baking memories, including family baking favorites and my ownership of House on the Hill  Cookie Molds. I can’t imagine having made all the Springerle cookies I’ve made over the last 20 plus years for family, friends, photography shoots, classes, and Open House samples if I had to have made them without a high powered standard mixer like this one.

It has been a workhorse in my kitchen for many years and I have given it a good run. More than a good run really, because I have abused the thing by using it for Springerle dough more than anything else. It was given to me, used, in the early 1990’s  and I was so very grateful to have such a wonderful tool – one that I would have been unlikely to purchase for myself. At that time, I did a lot of baking for bake sales, ball games and for my children’s activities. And it was during this same period that  I became a serious baker of Springerle, as my grandmother was not able to make Springerle cookies anymore. In 1993, I submitted my grandmother’s recipe and sample cookies to the annual Chicago Tribune holiday cookie contest and was one of the winners that year. And thus began a series of Springerle related events in my life, leading to my purchase of House on the Hill, and of course, this blog.

And so, I think in July , I will be buying a new Kitchen Aid Mixer. I will be looking for an 8 quart instead of a 6 quart bowl, and I am going to want that very low speed feature that I have used in teaching kitchens when travel teaching. I am going to get an extra bowl and extra beaters. I might even go for a red mixer; not quite sure about that yet. But I won’t forget you, my old mixer. You have been with me for a long time, and you have eased my work load on many an occasion. People have praised my cookies and you went without accolades. But I have been thankful to have such a great tool in my kitchen. Hmmmmm…..I’m not even sure I will say “good bye” , maybe just put you on light duty!

Wishing you warm baking memories too! Connie

{ 26 comments }

Marzipan Topped Cake

by connie on April 24, 2014

TwiningVineCakeMarzipanThis Twining Vine rolling pin is a beautiful implement  that is a replica of a  pin circa 1550. It is hard to know precisely the original intention the carver  had in mind for this lovely tool, but it seems likely that it was meant for decorative confections of fondant and marzipan to embellish cakes. I have   used it for fondant placed around the side of a cake and for marzipan placed    on the top of a long narrow cake. And too, I have used it for gingerbread tile cookies that I first saw in cookbook “Tartine” by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and    Chad Robertson, a collection of recipes from the San Francisco bakery  of the same name.

But until now, I have not recorded either process. So, here is a step by step instruction for making a very impressive  cake with a marzipan topper made with this rolling pin. This post has instructions for a white cake with raspberry jam filling, but there are so many possibilities. A spice or pumpkin cake with no filling. A white cake with lemon filling. A quick bread brown sugar loaf studded with chopped almonds and topped with decorative marzipan. You will think of some other flavor combinations that you like!

MakingCake1Select a rectangular plate to use, so that the cake can be cut into the correct  size. Bake a sheet cake or 9 x 13 inch cake. Consider the plate that you have; if your plate is longer, go the sheet cake route. If you want thicker layers, make a  9 x13 inch cake; thinner layers, make a sheet  cake. I baked a 9 x 13 inch white cake and added almond oil to complement the marzipan topper that will be added. I cut the cooled cake into two pieces an inch shorter (11 inches for the shown cake) than the length of the plate  (just the flat surface part of the plate) and the width of the rolling pin design.

marzipancakestep2Spoon some seedless raspberry jam into a microwave safe dish and heat just    until warm to make the jam more spreadable. If you are going to transport      the cake you may anchor the cake to the plate with a few dabs of frosting.   Place one  cake layer onto the plate and spread the warm jam on that layer. Place the second cake layer on top of the jam. (You could also use any seedless jam of your choice, lemon curd or chocolate filling in between these layers.)

 

marcakeStep4You will need one can of marzipan (11 oz. and there will be almost none left)   or 2 tubes which are usually 8 oz. each. You will need a flat rolling pin, confectioner’s sugar and a pastry brush. It is a bit easier to work with extra marzipan, so you may want to get more. (If you have leftover marzipan, cut        it into small pieces and add to brownie batter to make delicious marzipan brownies or get out some small cookies molds and form some marzipan confections. You could also let the kids make marzipan animals!)

 

MarCakeStep7Knead the marzipan into a smooth rectangular mass. Brush the Twining     Vine rolling pin generously with confectioner’s sugar. Also brush the work       surface and the flat rolling pin with confectioner’s sugar. Roll out the    marzipan into a half inch thick strip wide enough for the width of the rolling pin and 2 to 3 inches longer the the strips of cake you cut. Roll the prepared Twining Vine rolling pin down the length of the marzipan with steady   pressure and don’t stop rolling once you start. A continuous roll will help ensure that the pressure is more consistent.

 

MarCakeStep8Cut a straight edge at one end of the printed marzipan and along the sides. Use a ruler and cut the other end so that the marzipan is the same size as your cake layers. Brush the top of the cake layer with corn syrup; the corn syrup will serve as glue to adhere the marzipan. Place the marzipan strip on top of the cake. If there is some confectioner’s sugar that has not absorbed into the marzipan, brush the powdery areas with a slightly wet pastry brush. To transport cake, place a few toothpicks through all layers to keep them in place. If you wish,   you may add some fresh or artificial flowers to the cake plate as a finishing touch, as shown in the top photo. Cut the cake slices with a serrated knife.

Enjoy! Smile!

 

{ 4 comments }

Baking Bread Today

by connie on January 27, 2014

We closed the office today because of the frigid weather, which gave me the opportunity to bake bread, while I am working at home. It’s nice to take the time to make something that requires that I be at home during the entire process. I feel like a kid on a snow day! I just shaped the loaf for it’s rise and will try this recipe on my baking stone. Fresh whole wheat bread right out of the oven for dinner tonight! Yum!

OK…..back to work!

Stay Warm!

Connie

{ 1 comment }

OOPS!

by connie on September 25, 2013

I made a batch of  Springerle  last week and made a mistake I thought I would never make! I failed to add the harsthorn dissolved in milk that was sitting right there next to the mixer. Yikes! In more than 20 years of making these, I have never done that.

Just keep at it, mistakes are OK. (Just never do it again!)

Happy Baking!

Connie

{ 20 comments }

Most Common Springerle Boo-Boos

by connie on December 5, 2011

Thought some “newbys” to springerle baking might need a quick rundown of the most common mistakes:

  • Not letting the cookies dry long enough resulting in less distinct impressions. The cookies will taste fine, but will not be as pretty.
  • Rolling the dough too thickly, resulting in a cookie that rises too much and overpuffs the imprinted design.
  • Rolling the dough too thinly, resulting in a springerle that is very hard.
  • Overbaking the cookies until they are rocks

It’s true that molded cookies are by no means the easiest cookies to make, but if you read every entry in this blog, many of your questions will be answered. I do find that just when I think I have answered every possible concern, another question pops up, so I’ll just keep at it. I almost always learn something new every day and that is a good thing!

And remember….it’s only a cookie!  Your cookie baking should be fun! It will take a few batches to perfect your skill.

Connie

{ 57 comments }

Want to make molded gingerbread in your springerle molds?

by connie on October 22, 2011

Here’s a recipe that I developed this summer; it will make beautiful and tasty gingerbread. Be sure to choose a deeply and boldly carved design, one without really  fine details.  You’ll make the non springerle lovers very happy!

Happy Baking!

Connie

Gingerbread cookies using M4060 Swiss Sextet

Molded Gingerbread Cookies

Put into large mixing bowl and whisk together:

  • 3  cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Measure into a large measuring cup and mix thoroughly:

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup dark corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water

Now combine the flour mixture and the liquid mixture together either by hand or in a heavy standard mixer using the flat blade (not the whisk).  Mix until the dough holds together, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of water only if necessary to bind the dough. Knead the dough into a solid mass and place into a tightly sealed zipper bag.  Let the dough rest for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough with a plain rolling pin about ½ to 5/8 inch thick, depending on the depth of your cookie mold.  Using a pastry brush, flour the surface of your cookie mold. Press firmly onto the flat surface of the dough and then lift the mold straight up. Reflour the mold for every pressing.

Cut and place the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Let cookies dry for 8 – 12 hours.

Bake at 300 degrees for 12 minutes. Large cookies will need 14-15 minutes.

You can also use all molasses, but you will need to add an additional 6 Tablespoons of flour.

This recipe is easy to double.

{ 42 comments }