I love traditions. Every year after Christmas I look forward to the arrival of Grandma Sally’s Springerle cookies which she consistently makes in the early part of the new year. Being a crisp cookie topped with anise seeds, Springerle is often not for everyone and is definitely an acquired taste. But over the years I’ve become a huge fan, especially knowing the beautiful cookies were made in my mother-in-law’s kitchen!
So last month when Sally asked me if I would like to take part in her tradition, I jumped at the chance to learn the ins and the outs of Springerle. I knew the cookie is not a quick one to make – you let the dough chill for a day and then wait another day for the cookie shapes to dry before baking – but Sally was ready for her students, Beatrice included.
Sally has been creating Springerle for years having made these cookies as a child with her mother. It was a German tradition her biscuit-loving relatives had brought over from Europe. Sally takes pleasure in the three day baking process and also the sentimentality behind this traditional, Winter cookie.
As Sally and I began rolling out the dough, pressing the cookie mold, and cutting the shapes so delicately, I couldn’t help but notice her cookbook close at hand. This book was far from any ordinary cookbook. What I found was more of a well-loved and well-used cooking journal of sorts. Handwritten notes were both taped onto the pages as well as written on the actual pages of the cookbook. Detailed reminders of ingredients to buy for next season, notes on the quality of the dough, the dates and amount of cookies baked, which molds were used and general baking suggestions could be found throughout the pages. This was so representative of Sally, not only thoughtful in her baking but also one to write everything down.
Of course, aside from the cookies, after we finished molding our gorgeous biscuit shapes, Sally did not let us depart without a Springerle recipe card which she hand wrote herself, of course. I can only imagine the smudges, added notes and baking suggestions which will be added to this new recipe card for years to come as I continue the tradition with my own children. Thank you, Sally, for both old and new traditions and the value you give towards handwriting in your life.