Tools of the Trade: Springerle Rolling Pin

When Jake moved in, it was a struggle to merge both of our existing kitchens into one functional space. We had to get rid of a lot of duplicate items and it was a trying time, to say the least. But there were a few things that we wouldn't budge on... like anything from either of our vintage kitchen utensil collections. And since there was no room left in the drawers (ok, there were a lot of things we didn't budge on...) we started hanging these items on the  kitchen walls. Of course we haven't stopped collecting and our walls are now covered with tools, many of which we barely know how to use, or even if we can. Not the best strategy for organizing a small urban kitchen, we know, but it works for us.

This Springerle roller is one of Silka's all-time favorites. We picked it up at an antique store in Angelica, NY this summer, but now that we're knee-deep in cookie season,she thought it would be a good time to test it out. Springerle rollers were made specifically for German Springerle buscuits - embossed treats made with eggs, flour, and powdered sugar and placed on anise-sprinkled baking sheets. They've been made since the 1400's, and are often printed with religious iconography. Our's is definitely from the 20th century as it combines that traditional imagery with some pretty random patriotic carvings.

Rather than making the standard Springerle cookie, we decided to make a classic shortbread. We put together a very simple dough and embossed the cookies very lightly, but next time we might get a little more aggressive with our technique. Either way, it was a great feeling to actually get some use out of one of our wall decorations. And now it can go back up on the wall, to remain untouched until next Christmas.  

Shortbread Cookies 

+ 2 cups all-purpose flour
+ 3/4 teaspoon salt
+ 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
+ 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
+ 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

1. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Wisk together flour and salt. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar, and continue to beat until pale and fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides of bowl, about 2 minutes more. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed, scraping sides if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers. 
2. Turn out dough, forming into 2 disks; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. 
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out 1 disk to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out shapes using desired cookie cutter, and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Reroll scraps. Repeat with remaining disk. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. Bake until firm and golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Or, if you're using a Springerle roller....
Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is close to the width of your roller on one side. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Flour your Springerle roller generously, or dust with confectioners sugar, and roll over top of dough. Transfer to baking sheet in one piece and refrigerate for another 15 minutes. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. Cut with a pizza cutter or sharp knife when just out of the oven (and still a little soft) and carefully transfer to a wire rack.

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