Maybe you have experienced similar things in your family: certain recipes are the sole right of my Mum to use and spoil the family and friends with. One of them is an aniseed cookie we use to eat at Christmas. The most important feature of this aniseed cookie is the risen dough, the so called “Fuessli” = little feet. No small feat when there is no yeast involved!
Heavily guarded family recipes and gloating behind the back when somebody else’s cookies had flat feet. Endless discussions on what needed to be done.
My Mum is getting on in years so I have decided to have a go at it and started checking recipes in my cookbooks. I found one recipe in a very old cookbook dating back to 1908, the following ingredients should be used and I have added some of the explanations:
Old recipe of 1908
460 – 500 g flour (dried on the oven and sieved!)
500 g fine and well dried sugar
4 big or 5 medium eggs
2 TS exquisitely picked aniseed
2 TS of cherry brandy (helps to rise the dough and to chase the often unpleasant egg odour!)
I have decided on a newer variation of the recipe (sourced from my mother’s cookbook and a standard cookbook of Swiss recipes):
Basle Cookbook of 1908
To be continued tomorrow, now it is time to put my marinated beef roast in the oven.
If you want to have a go at the cookie recipe, please:
300 g icing sugar
1 pinch salt
2 TS aniseed
350 g wheat flour
2 TS cherry brandy
Put eggs and sugar in your mixer and beat it to a light yellow frothy mixture (at least ten minutes)
Add salt, aniseed and cherry brandy
Slowly work in flour (the dough will still be a little bit sticky)
Cover bowl and put it in the fridge for an hour
Line a baking tin with baking paper
Roll out dough to a thickness of 1 cm and cut out your favourite cookie forms (stars, heart, ace)
Put cookies on your tin and let it dry over night at room temperature (make sure there is no draught)
Preheat oven to 150° C and bake on the lower third during 12 – 15 minutes
Timing is everything! Certainly, but why do I come up with a Christmas cookie recipe only now? Quite simply: I did not have the time nor the necessary leisure (cooking and baking is sheer meditation). And aniseed cookies are a treat at any time of the year, especially when they have become a little bit dry (*) and can be dunked in coffee – heaven!
* Tip: keep the cookies in a tin