2007: I originally posted this a couple of years ago, and since this is the recipe I used again this year, I'm just going to add those in where appropriate. I'll also keep this year's comments in bold, in case you're wondering....by the way, the black ringbinder I refer to in the paragraph below is my late mother-in-law's book of her mother's recipes, translated from the German.
This is not the handwritten recipe in the black ringbinder. I haven't attempted that one. I'm posting (for now) the recipe that we used two years ago, the time that I baked cookies with my mother-in-law. The recipe was in a 1996 copy of Yankee Magazine and was sent in by a Marian Tietz Anderson, of Fredonia, New York. At the end of the little article it says "The Yankee Cook Suggests Springerle molds from the House on the Hill" and gives an old address and phone number, and adds "It has a huge selection of deeply cut molds that make wonderfully detailed pictures."
So onto the recipe, courtesy of Marian Tietz Anderson, with notes from Elsa...
Make these three weeks ahead if possible, then store airtight to mellow and soften.
4 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pound sifted confectioners' sugar (4 cups, per Elsa)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Grease cookie sheets and sprinkle with anise seeds.
Sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat eggs until light;
beat until mixture makes a thick ribbon when dropped from a spoon (or a spatula).
Add lemon rind,
then flour mixture.
* this year I had a repeating issue with dough that was too dry. I followed the recipe, but things like humidity can affect your dough, and so maybe (I don't know for sure) the dryness in the air, or in my house, was partly to blame. It held together okay in that picture above, but later on, when I went to roll it out, the whole thing crumbled. I fixed that by dripping a little water on the dough - VERY LITTLE - and working the dough with my hands, adding a bit more water if necessary, until I had a better consistency. So if your dough is crumbly - just work in bits of water.
On lightly floured board, roll to 1/2-inch thickness. (Sorry - for some reason I neglected to take pictures of this step. But I think you can manage without them.)
Flour springerle molds (because if you don't, dough will stick in the little spaces like you see below, and it's a pain to dig that out.)
and press firmly into dough. Cut cookies apart. (or, if you're using a single cutter like this one, trim around the main picture, either with a knife or a cookie cutter, as appropriate.)
Place 1/2 inch apart on cookie sheets and leave exposed to air overnight.
Bake the next morning in a 300 degree F oven, 20 to 25 minutes or so; do not let them get brown.
Yields about 3 dozen 2-inch cookies
Elsa had written the following across the top of the page: "Comes out high & full if baked in round cake pans rather than cookie sheets." I think this is because the cookies were surrounded by the sides of the cake pan, concentrating the heat within that circle, which probably helped give the baking powder an extra bit of oomph to help leaven the cookies. Just a guess.
Springerle molds are sometimes single pieces of wood (or a resin/wood combination) with a sort of checkerboard arrangement of lots of smaller pictures. Each picture is meant to make a single cookie, so after you've imprinted the mold on the dough, you need to carefully cut these into the smaller cookies. For straight lines, a pizza wheel works very well, as long as you're careful and the wheel doesn't get away from you.
She also noted, with regard to the length of cooking time "20 min is good" - but that will really depend on your oven. Still - check them at 20. No one wants a browned springerle!! Trust me!!
I am going to make a batch with this recipe this year (to play it safe) and a batch from Elsa's ringbinder(to be bold and brave). I also have (somewhere) a recipe that my husband's cousin, Elsa's brother's daughter, had sent to me last Christmas. I can't remember if it's an adaptation of a family recipe or something she got somewhere else, or something she developed...apparently these come out lighter and a bit easier on the teeth. The airing out can result in a rather dry, hard cookie, and time will have the same effect. I don't mind - I like to gnaw on them, actually. You can also dunk them in your coffee. Or tea. Or milk.
Now that I've finally made them, here are a couple of tips...
Make sure you let the dough warm back up a bit after chilling before you attempt to roll it out. This is a bad habit of mine - I start trying to roll it too cold (I do this with pie dough too) and it inevitably cracks and is very frustrating to work with. Can't really give you a length of time, but try 10-15 minutes and then figure out what's best in your kitchen.
Also - when pressing out the molds...the dough, as you press (and be prepared to exert some pressure - this is a strong dough and will push back) needs somewhere to go. It will go up into the mold, which you want, and it will go out to the sides. I found out it works best if you can cut a piece of dough just about the size of the image you're pressing, press that lightly to the mold, and flip it over and lean on it (evenly, so it doesn't come out really detailed on one side and less so on the other) that should work. I've also seen instructions to put the dough on the mold and run your rolling pin over it. I have one really big mold and I'll probably do the rolling pin thing when I get to that one. I'll be making another batch next weekend....