Some people think the name Springerle refers to Springer, the German name for the knight in a chess game. The poor, having no money, made the cookies into gifts. For whatever reason, make them a holiday tradition in your family.

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 drops oil of anise
  • 1/2 tsp. Bakers ammonia
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • 4 c. cake flour
  • 4 tsp. anise seed

Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually add sugar and beat until mixture is almost white and thick enough to "ribbon". (This makes finished cookie fine grained.) Add anise flavoring, lemon peel, and ammonia dissolved in 1 tsp. water. Gradually add sifted cake flour. Dough should be very firm. Add a little flour if necessary. Chill at least 2 hours.

Turn dough onto lightly floured board and roll to 1/4-inch thickness, using a regular rolling pin. (Use rolling pin rings to be precise.) Press floured wooden molds into dough, bearing down firmly and evenly to leave clear-cut designs. With a floured knife, cut cookies apart. Place on greased baking sheet sprinkled with anise seed. Cover with tea towel and let stand in cool place overnight or up to 24 hours to dry.

In the morning, place in 375° oven to set the design; immediately turn down to 300° and bake for 15 minutes. Remove to racks to cool. For softer cookies, let stand overnight before storing in airtight containers. Age 2-3 weeks before serving. (A slice of apple added to the tin the day before serving will soften cookies.) Makes 6 dozen.