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Springerle (SPRING-uhr-lee) - These have been and still are traditional Christmas cookies in Bavaria and Austria for centuries. Springerle are white, anise-flavored cookies, made from a simple egg-flour-sugar dough. Usually rectangular or circular in shape, they have a picture or design stamped on the top. The images are imprinted with specially carved rolling pins or flat molds (Springerle presses, or boards). After the cookies are baked, the designs are sometimes enhanced with edible food colors--or with tempera or acrylic paints, if the cookies are to be used as decorations. Hartshorn is the traditional leavening (it is an ammonia compound).

History:   The name Springerle comes from an old German dialect and means "little knight" or "jumping horse." Historians trace these cookies back to the Julfest, a midwinter celebration of pagan Germanic tribes. Julfest ceremonies included the sacrificing of animals to the gods, in hope that such offerings would bring a mild winter and an early spring. Poor people who could not afford to kill any of their animals gave token sacrifices in the form of animal-shaped breads and cookies. Vestiges of these pagan practices survive in the baking of shaped-and-stamped German Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen, Spekulatius, Frankfurter Brenten, and Springerle.

From: http://www.andallthekingsmen.com/about.html <Feb. 7, 2004>

History of Springerle

The word springerle, comes from the old German dialect meaning "little knight." Springerle cookies were made for hundreds of years and some of the earliest molds found in Switzerland date back as far as the 14th century. The molds used to make springerle were usually carved from wood or made of clay or metal. Biblical scenes were some of the earliest images portrayed in springerle and were used to educate those who couldn't read or write.

Eventually, other scenes were carved and the cookies soon reflected images of holidays, events and scenes from every day life. The cookies were also used to celebrate births, weddings and used as betrothal tokens. Exchanging springerle during the holidays was a common practice very much like we exchange cards today.

From: http://www.hungrybrowser.com/phaedrus/m1218TH03.htm <Feb. 7, 2004>

Springerle cookies originated in the German province of Swabia in the 15th century. They were originally baked to honor Church Holy Days, but more recently they have become especially a Christmas cookie. Food historians have suggested that the name "springerle" may have come about because the cookies rise or "spring up" while cooking. Another theory is that they got their name because one of the most popular molds is a picture of a leaping (or "springing") horse. There are several other cookies that are made the same way except for the molding, such as "Wurzburger marzipan," Nuremberg "Eierzucker," and Swiss "anisbritli." (Reference: "The Penguin Companion to Food" by Alan Davidson.)

From: http://www.springerle.com/springerleE/GESCH/gesch01.html <Feb. 8, 2004>

Origins of Springerle molds

Decorating baked goods first began with the ancient cultures of India, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Finds from ancient archeological sites show us that stone and clay molds were first used for decorating flatbread. Clay vases and other household goods were also decorated using molds. The oldest known springerle mold from Switzerland was carved from wood in the 14th century. This round shaped mold pictures the Easter lamb, and originates from the St. Katharine monastery in Will St. Gallen. It is now in the collection of the Swiss national museum in Zurich, Switzerland.


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