Welcome back! Today I want to share a little piece of my family’s holiday tradition when it comes to Christmas baking. To go along with this little piece of my family, I’d like to tell you a little more about myself.
I think the most important thing to know about me, since you’re reading something written by me, is that I am not an artsy, creative personality type. I am a data, math and thinking type. Specifically, if you know much about Personality Theory, I am an INTJ. That would be the type attributed to just about every villain or anti-hero ever.
It stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging. It means I’m detail oriented more than I’m people oriented, and I aim to be organized and analytical. I’m kind of quiet and shy unless I’m talking about something I really love. Like cookies or personality theory.
I majored in Physics and minored in Psychology, and I am a total nerd. However, as I said last time, I love crafts and cooking. And it probably goes back to my grandparents, who filled my life with crafts, food and freedom to explore. My brother and I were allowed to create, run around, and generally be ourselves so long as we didn’t wreck the place, and for the most part we did just that.
At Christmas my grandma is famous for her cookies. She bakes enough to share with everyone, have plenty to put out with coffee or while we’re playing board games, and to give to relatives for Christmas presents. She makes a beautiful array of treats, but everyone’s favourite is Pfefferkuchen.
When I say it’s a family tradition, my grandma has made these cookies every year for 55 years, ever since she met my grandpa.
Pfefferkuchen is a German cookie that is kind of like a very strong gingerbread. It has a bunch of different spices and can be decorated with royal icing. I’ve seen recipes online, and I’m sure they’re great, but today I want to share Grandma’s Pfefferkuchen recipe and the insane way our family has decorated cookies for 55+ years.
|Pfefferkuchen||Makes about 75 cookies|
|2 cups honey||1 tsp cinnamon|
|2 cups brown sugar||1 tsp star anise|
|1 cup melted butter||1 tsp black pepper|
|2 large eggs||½ tsp allspice|
|6 cups flour||1 tsp nutmeg|
|2 tbsp almond flavour||1 tsp coriander|
|½ tsp salt||1 tbsp grated orange peel|
|15 grams (about 1 tbsp) potash dissolved in ¼ cup water|
Dissolve potash in water and set aside. You can buy cooking potash online on Amazon, or at some gourmet food stores.
In a large stand mixer mix honey, sugar, butter and eggs until combined
Add in salt, almond flavour, dissolved potash and all spices.
Slowly add flour, half a cup at a time until dough resembles sugar cookie dough. It’s a lot of flour so you might need to switch to a dough hook or knead the dough by hand to get it into a ball.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Now the fun part! Roll out your dough a little bit at a time onto a lightly floured surface. It should be about a ¼ inch thick. Using your favourite cookie cutters, cut the dough into different shapes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. If you’re concerned about sticking, put parchment paper on the baking sheets, and then put the cookies on top.
If you want to decorate them like gingerbread, bake the cookies at this point. They bake in 8-10 minutes at 350oF. However, this is not the point we usually bake them. Once all the cookies are on baking trays we decorate each cookie with sprinkles. This is a time-consuming process and I’ll admit I didn’t have time to make and decorate cookies myself, so I just went over to grandma’s and decorated hers.
Get out a clean pair of tweezers and hit up Bulk Barn. We place each individual sprinkle in the divots left by the cookie cutters, or if they don’t have divots we draw our own with a toothpick.
My brother does not have this level of patience. He decorates with royal icing or just dumps coloured sugar on them and bakes them. However, if you have the time and the patience it does look pretty amazing when it’s done.
They are best enjoyed with coffee and a rowdy game of dominoes.