The following baking tips and expert advice are listed here with permission from House on the Hill™ and are for personal use only.
Generally, the larger the cookie, the lower the temperature, the longer the baking time. The smaller the cookie, the lower the temperature. But here are some considerations and guidelines for various sizes.
Ovens vary; some run hot or cold and others have “hot spots”. As a rule, electric ovens have more even heat and are drier, but this is not always the case. Thus, electric ovens may bake the cookies more quickly. Be sure to let the oven get back to the same temperature after opening the oven door and open and close the oven door as quickly as possible. Use the middle rack in most instances – the heat tends to be more even there.
Be sure to bake only the same size cookie on a single baking sheet.
The first time you bake a new size cookie, bake a single test cookie. Repeat until you get it right. Better to waste a few cookies than a whole tray. You want the top of the cookie to be very white and the bottom to be slightly golden. Break the baked test cookie in half and make sure that the cake-like texture is fully formed and that no doughiness remains; this is especially important when you use hartshorn (you want to completely bake out the ammonia.)
If you roll cookies very thinly, reduce the temperatures and baking times. If you have thicker cookies, you may need to add 1 to 3 minutes to the baking times.
Below are some examples of some Springerle sizes and suggested temperatures and baking times. These guidelines assume a cookie thickness of 3/8 to 5/8 inches:
Basic Size: Approx 1.5 to 2 by 2 to 2.5 inches – a very common size found in multiple image presses. Examples are M7615 Cassie’s Garden and M4028 Mixed Motifs.
Bake at 300 to 325 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes.
Larger Size: Approx 2 to 3 by 2 to 3 inches – a common size of single image cookie molds. Example M5383 Winter Sleigh Scene. Bake at 320-325 degrees F for 12 to 14 minutes.
Larger Yet Size: Maybe 3 x 5 inches and larger. Example M5883 Spectacular Nativity. Bake at 290-300 degrees F for 14 to 16 minutes.
Just increase time on even larger cookies. Do not go above 300 degrees as you will not be able to control the browning as well. Larger cookies-think lower and slower.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Can I use these molds with any cookie recipe?
A: You must use recipes that are designed for use in cookie molds. Recipes that are proportionately high in fat, sugar and leavening will not maintain the imprinted design when the cookies are baked.
Q: Can I use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour in the recipe?
A: Cake flour is made of soft wheat flours. All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat flours, not as high in gluten as cake flour. Therefore, your cookie will not be as cake-like. All purpose flour will yield a harder cookie: you may need to use less all purpose flour. This is a personal preference.
Q: When I baked my cookies, the image "puffed up" and I can't see the picture. They looked fine when I dried them. What happened?
A: Your oven temperature is probably too hot. Reduce the temperature, put an empty cookie sheet on bottom oven shelf, or prop the oven door slightly ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon to wick off heat. Test bake one cookie of each size first! For tiny cookies, you may need the temperature set as low as 225 degrees. In general, the smaller the cookie, the lower the temperature; the larger the cookie, the longer the baking time at a lower temperature.
Another consideration is kneading. MAKE SURE that the dough is a solid mass. You must knead the dough so that you have no layers of air in the kneaded dough.
The layering is more likely to happen on mold designs that have flat areas with no printed design. I.E. When you print the design, the press breaks the dough slightly to allow the release of air. Thus you will always have this problem more often when flat areas are not broken up, so be sure to follow the above tips. You will never be able to entirely eliminate this problem, but you will have more control.
Q: Do I really have to dry Springerle for 24 hours?
A: Yes. The reason for drying the cookies is simple. Drying allows the surface of the cookie to form a “crust.” This crust will help to maintain the desired image during the baking process.
It is recommended that after you print and cut your Springerle cookies, you place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Be sure to place “same size” cookies together on the same sheet, as different size cookies will require different baking times and temperatures. Allow the cookies to dry at room temperature, uncovered. We suggest you allow them to dry at least overnight. For best results, we recommend 24 hours.
If you live in an area of high humidity, this may affect the drying time for your cookies. We recommend you place the cookies in the coolest area of your home, using a fan or air conditioning to circulate the air and aid the drying. A minimum 24 hours drying time is recommended under high humidity conditions.
There is no concern regarding bacteria contamination due to drying without refrigeration. Because the cookies are baked at a temperature in excess of 200F, any bacteria would be eliminated during the baking process.
Q: How do I keep the cookie dough from sticking in the mold?
A: We recommend that you flour the mold well, before each printing. Using a dry, clean pastry brush, simply brush a generous amount of flour onto the mold, paying particular attention to the deepest areas of the image. You must brush the mold for every single pressing. Gently tap the mold to remove any excess. Never use oil or non-stick spray and flour in the molds. Oils will accumulate in the deep areas of the image and will be difficult to remove.
Q: Can I refrigerate or freeze the Springerle dough to bake another day?
A: Springerle dough can be refrigerated or frozen – remember to thaw before use! Refrigerated dough may be kept up to 4-5 days. (I most often make the dough, refrigerate it over night, and form the cookies the next morning.) Frozen dough may be kept up to 3 months wrapped airtight in plastic wrap and/or Ziplock bags.
Q: How do I store the cookies?
A: Springerle are meant to be baked in advance. The longer they “age,” the better they taste! Anise flavor develops and mellows over time. Store springerle in tins with tightly fitted lids. Separate the layers of cookies with waxed paper.
Speculaas and gingerbread cookies store well in tins, also, but are best eaten within a week.
Springerle, speculaas and gingerbread cookies can be frozen after baking, but this is not recommended due to the change in taste and texture.
Q: What can I use to make fondant or marzipan stick to my baked goods?
A: You may adhere marzipan or fondant using frosting or corn syrup applied with a pastry brush as “glue” to the top of cakes or cookies.
Q: Can I use these molds for chocolate?
A: In general, we do not recommend using our molds for chocolate. Chocolate is usually poured into flexible molds and House on the Hill molds are NOT flexible.
Modeling chocolate and chocolate fondant are alternative choices that work well.
Q: Can baked Springerle cookies be painted with egg wash?
A: No – egg wash needs to be baked.
Q: Can Springerle cookie dough be dyed? What should I used?
A: Yes, springerle dough can be dyed using food color gels. Add gel to dough after you have added about 2 cups of flour.