The Anise Seed/Anise Oil Debate

I've had multiple conversations with many students, customers and cookie bakers concerning their questions and preferences for flavoring their Springerle cookies with anise seed or anise oil. Many of the preferences are based family traditions as in "my family always made them with____".  Insert oil or seed in the blank.  Some folks just want to know what to use and some just want my opinion.

Firstly, let me just state that my family tradition is anise oil and that I have always loved Springerle cookies and for a long time thought that was the only way to make them. But early in my public experiences, I found that there are  hundreds of variations on Springerle making. Some with leavening, some without. Some with powdered sugar, some with granulated sugar. Some with feet, some without. Et cetera. And some with anise oil and some with anise seed.

I have tried many Springerle recipes and still always come back to the one my grandmother gave to me. And while I had eaten samples of cookies with the anise seed backing, I had not made them, until recently. I knew the procedure and that the anise seed version needed to age to develop the anise flavor. I also know I liked the rustic look and crunch of the seeds adhered to the back of the cookies.

Here is my experience and how to make Springerle WITH anise seeds on the back: (I made my Springerle dough without any flavoring oil or extract.)

I sprinkled my cookie sheet liberally with anise seeds.

I sprinkled my cookie sheet liberally with anise seeds.

I formed my cookies as usual and placed them gently on the anise seeds.

I formed my cookies as usual and placed them gently on the anise seeds.

I pressed each cookie, again very gently, to slightly adhere the cookies, knowing that when I baked them the rising would push the seeds more into the cookie.

I pressed each cookie, again very gently, to slightly adhere the cookies, knowing that when I baked them the rising would push the seeds more into the cookie.

I dried the cookies for 24 hours as usual and then baked them as usual.

I dried the cookies for 24 hours as usual and then baked them as usual.

After cooling, I flipped a few cookies over and yes indeed the seeds had adhered.

After cooling, I flipped a few cookies over and yes indeed the seeds had adhered.

Kept safely from the cookie monsters, here they are in late August ready for the taste test!

Kept safely from the cookie monsters, here they are in late August ready for the taste test!

Now for the tasting!

Tasting # 1 – June 23, 2018
Shortly after baked and cooled. A barely perceptible anise flavor, but I knew the aging process was  required and many traditional recipes call for an aging period. (Including recipes with only anise oil as the anise flavor develops with aging.)

Tasting #2 – July 23, 2018
A more pronounced anise flavor. More subtle than I would like.

Tasting # 3 – August 27, 2018
Now we are getting somewhere! Definitely anise and I do so like the crunch of the anise seed on the bottom of the cookie. These are my conclusions from this fun project:

  • If you really like a mild anise flavor and the authentic rustic feel, anise seed backed cookies aged for at least one month might be your favorite version of this traditional cookie. Longer aging for stronger flavor.

  • If you like a stronger anise flavor profile, use anise oil. Even when you use anise oil, the flavor gets stronger as the cookie ages.

  • If you like a strong flavor AND the seeds use BOTH knowing that the flavor will continue to evolve as the cookie age.

And my preference based on these conclusions? I like strong flavors and particularly the anise and licorice flavors, but also the crunch of the rustic seeds. I also understand  that, historically, many people would have used seeds when the oil was not available to them. I also know some people who cannot eat seeds. So I will be baking my Springerle with anise oil only and also with both anise oil and some anise seeds.

And what will you be trying next???

Happy Baking!

Connie

You Can Still Make Springerle

You've been busy; I get it. You meant to have your Springerle neatly packed in silver tins on Thanksgiving weekend, but somehow it's only 4 days until Christmas and you finally have some time this weekend to make them. If you want the traditional flavor  anise, as I do, you probably know that aging the cookies will develop the anise flavor.

So here's what you can do: add some extra anise oil and enjoy your Springerle on Christmas Day. I know many of you are using different recipes than mine, so add about 20% more anise oil to your batch. So in a recipe calling for 1/2 teaspoon of anise oil, I would add a scant 1/8 teaspoon of extra oil since 1/8th teaspoon would be 25% of 1/2 teaspoon. Not good with math? Here is a chart with a few measurements and the additional amounts:

  • 1 teaspoon – add scant 1/4 teaspoon

  • 1/2 teaspoon – add scant 1/8 teaspoon

  • 2 teaspoons – add scant 1/2 teaspoon

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons – add scant 1/4 teaspoon and scant 1/8 teaspoon

Don't change the fruit oil (lemon or orange) or nut oil measurements . They will be fine. In fact, I like to enjoy the lemon and orange Springerle right away.

Enjoy the Holidays and a Very Merry Christmas to you!

Connie

Flavor Trials

For those of you who don't like anise, I am going to try some new flavors. I have some new oils to give a whirl in the big mixer and I'll give you some feedback as I try them.

In the meantime I am going to offer up two  tried and true flavor substitutions for anise oil. They are lemon and orange , perfect for spring and summer, but classic flavors that transcend season and are universally loved by most people.  In my recipe, which calls for 3/4 teaspoon of anise oil, use 3 teaspoons of lemon or orange oil and 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon or orange peel. If you do not wish to use the grated peel, use 4 teaspoons of either oil. Fruit oils are not nearly as strong as the seed oils, so do not be alarmed by the big difference in quantity. I also find that these flavors are good for immediate eating, whereas anise flavor develops in aging.

Try and enjoy!

Ground Anise - WOW Factor

Sometimes, you need to try something new even though it involves a process steeped in tradition and habit!

I have long used anise oil to flavor my Springerle cookies and have used the technique of placing cookies on anise seed; a combination of both oil and seed placement is also a good option. I tend to prefer the stronger flavor from using anise oil and the anise seed only route requires a long aging period. I thought I was not willing to try to mess with another way, but when this idea was presented to me, I knew I had to try it. Please forgive me for forgetting your name, but you suggested I try adding ground anise seed to the dough. Thank you, thank you! The suggestion was to use anise oil and add 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground anise . The addition adds a freshness to the flavor and, of course, reinforces the anise oil. To maintain the whiteness of Springerle, do not use only ground anise or your cookies will be more yellow. The use of both flavorings adds complexity without changing the traditional flavor. I am so glad I tried this!!

If you are the person who told me to add ground anise, please let me know so that I can give you credit!!!

I was able to find ground anise at Penzy's Spices.