German Springerle-Making Day

springerle-baking-day-2010-02I’ve seen wooden molds with delicate designs carved into them many times as I’ve browsed through antique shops and rummaged my way through flea markets. I never really knew what they were supposed to be used for. A neighbor once gave me the light colored rolling pin you can see in the photo above. She’d had it for years and wasn’t exactly sure if she’d ever used it, but she thought it would be a nice addition to the collection of old rolling pins I kept in an old wicker bike basket hanging on the wall in my kitchen. That was years ago. I’ve never used that carved rolling pin. Until last Sunday.

I was invited to join the Oja family in their spacious kitchen for their annual springerle-making day. Snowflakes were falling as another friend and I pulled into the long driveway leading to their house tucked into the countryside outside of Bemidji, Minnesota.

As I stepped into the warm and cozy home, I was immediately hit with the aroma of mulling spices and cardamom. Beth Oja, our hostess, had prepared Finnish Pulla and mulled cider made from apples the family had picked from their trees and pressed themselves. I thought I might be in heaven. And, I knew this was going to be a great day.


Beth had already pulled out the tried-and-true springerle recipe that she had gotten many years ago from a German family she was friends with when she was growing up in Burlington, Iowa. For many Germans, the crunchy, biscuit-like springerles (an archaic German word meaning a springing or jumping horse) are a Christmas tradition.

springerle-baking-day-2010-05Beth has a collection of springerle molds that she has gathered over the years, finding some old ones at flea markets and antique shops. She has some newer molds, too. She recommends anyone looking to buy a wooden mold or two to check out her favorite resource for springerle molds, House on the Hill in River Forest, Illinois. Beth keeps her molds out on display all year long.

Anise-flavored sweet dough, rich with butter and eggs is rolled out, stamped with wooden molds, and the embossed design air-dried before baking. In the heat of the oven, the imprinted dough puffs up like little pillows. They are almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.

A successful day of making springerle. I came home with two trays filled with beautifully embossed cookies. I left them out on the kitchen table overnight. In the morning, I was greeted with the wonderful fragrance of anise. I’ve left a few of my baked springerles out on the kitchen counter just to keep the house smelling like a German Christmas.

Beth’s Springerles by way of the Blaufuss family in Burlington, Iowa

6 cups sugar
12 egg yolks
3/4 pound (3 sticks) butter

springerle2Cream sugar, yolks and butter until smooth.

12 egg whites

In another large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Add to egg yolk mixture and beat at medium speed for 20 minutes.


2 tablespoons Hartshorn (baking ammonia)
1 ounce anise oil

Beat at medium speed for 10 minutes.


5 pounds bleached all-purpose flour

Mix well.

Roll out pieces of dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Press with springerle molds. Cut out each cookie. Dry springerle, uncovered, overnight.

Bake on parchment-lined baking sheet in 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Cooled springerle freeze well.


Sue Doeden is a popular cooking instructor, food writer and integrative nutrition health coach. She is the host of Good Food, Good Life 365 on Lakeland Public Television. Her own hives full of hardworking bees and her love of honey led to the creation of her recently published cookbook, Homemade with Honey.