|A little royal icing with rum is no hateful addition|
|The cold dough is stiff|
As I reviewed Nietlispach's recipe, I flipped through the contents of our pantry in my mind. The lard (Schweinschmalz) was no stranger in my baking repertoire. For the candied citron (Zitronat), I used a diced mix of homemade candied orange peel and the last of my candied Buddha's Hand/Cthulhu Head citron.
A quick check with my old pal Michael McGuan revealed that he had just rendered lard the day before; within 40 minutes I'd gotten my hands on 200 grams of it. More than enough for this recipe. The cooked pork smell rolling off the creamy white lard gave me pause. Would it be too strong for cookies? I forged on anyway without any attempt to refine it. The porkiness, in fact, faded away to the barest nothing after baking, a faint savory porcine whisper that complemented the spices.
|Thinner shapes cooling on the rack|
Royal icing is one of the traditional decorations for these cookies and I doled it out in blocks, lines, stars, and other shapes on the thick slabs I made with half the batch and on the thinner stars, gingerbread men, and open-palmed hands. A little bit of rum in the icing isn't a bad thing. Alton Brown has as good a recipe as any. He uses vanilla extract, but a similar amount of lemon juice or —my choice — rum also works to loosen and flavor the icing.
For those who can read the old German script, here's the recipe:
|Gunter glieben glauchen globen. Doesn't make any sense to you? Check out below.|
And if reading that doesn't come easily to you, here is my transliteration and adaptation for modern kitchens. The text of Frau Nietlispach's recipe follows for those who like to check against the original.
½ pound honey
½ pound sugar
100 g pork lard
1-1.25 pounds flour
½ pound peeled and grated sweet almonds
125 g finely cut mixed candied citron and orange peels
4 g each of ground cinnamon, ground cloves, cardamom
15 g of potash (potassium carbonate, 2.5 tsp), dissolved with 2 Tbl of rum
4 g hartshorn (ammonium carbonate, 0.75 tsp) dissolved with 2 Tbl of rum
Let the honey, sugar and fat boil in a pot. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the spices, almonds, and one pound of the flour. Carefully add the hot honey mixture and mix slowly to blend. Then add the eggs, potash, and ammonium carbonate and continue mixing until the dough is smooth and shiny. Add additional flour if necessary to achieve a dough that’s just barely tacky to the touch.
Let it rest, covered with plastic wrap, overnight in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 350°F. Roll out the dough, using flour as necessary to prevent sticking, in large slabs [5-10mm thick] and cut into rectangles about 8 x 5 centimeters or
round cakes roll
about 5mm and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper a silicone baking mat. Transfer individual cookies to the sheets. Bake slabs 18-20 minutes or cut-out shapes 12-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. After cooling, coat them with different glazes to such as chocolate, sugar and raspberry glaze and decorate each cakes differently: with [royal icing], finely chopped almonds, colored granulated sugar (nonpareils), chopped, green pistachios, halved almonds, etc. [As an alternate to lining cooking sheets] before baking, you can put the cookies on Oblaten [baking wafers].
1/2 Pdf. Bienenhonig, 1/2 Pdf. Zucker, 100 g Schweinschmalz, 1 Pdf. Mehl, 1/2 Pdf. geschälte und geriebene Süß Mandeln, 125 g feineschnittenes Zitronat, 2 Eier, 4 g gemahlener Zimt, Nelkenpulver, Kardamom, 15 g Pottasche, 4 g Hirschhornsalz, beides in etwas Rum aufgelöst — Honig, Zucker und Fett laßt man aufkochen, fügt Gewürze, Mandeln und Mehl zu dem heißen Honig, verrührt gut und kochen. Dann kommen Eier, Pottasche und Hirschhornsalz dazu, worauf man den Teig sehr gut verkneten muß. Ist er glatt und blank, rollt man in aus, sticht große, runde Kuchen aus und bäckt sie aus gefettetem Blech schnell bei guter Hitze. Nach dem Erkalten sind sie mit verschiedenen Glasuren: Schokoladen-, Zucker- und Himbeerglasur zu überziehen und jeder Kuchen anders zu garnieren: mit feingehackten Mandeln, buntem Streuzucker (Nonpareilles), gehackten, grünen Pistazien, halbierten Mandeln ufw. Man kann die Kuchen vor dem Backen auch auf Oblaten legen.
Goes well with:
- Elise Hannemann's Liverwurst, another old German recipe from the library here.
- Ginger comes up a lot at the Whiskey Forge. From Soulless Ginger Lemonade to Kentucky Mules, check out some of the other recipes.
- Want to make your own lard at home? It's easy as pie. Easier, even. Here're directions.
- Look for potash (Pottasche) and hartshorn (Hirschhornsaltz) among the baking ingredients at grocers catering to a German clientele; the brand I use is Alba Gewürtze. No German delis in your neighborhood? Try ammonium carbonate and potassium carbonate from GermanDeli.com.