Spiced Christmas shortbread

Anja Dunk will get you in the festive spirit with a classic German bake known as Gewürz Spritzgebäck (spiced Christmas shortbread)...

"I usually use the cookie press to make these because I find they look particularly festive in little wreath shapes. If you aren’t so keen on icing you can sprinkle each biscuit with a little demerara sugar before baking – this adds a pleasing crunch and caramel note to the cookie."

Advent cover

This recipe is from Advent by Anja Dunk, Quadrille Publishing Ltd. In her new cookbook Advent, Anja shares her recipes for the very best of traditional German festive bakes. If you love this recipe you can get the book from our online shop WITH an automatic 10% off just for being you, PLUS free UK P+P! 

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Ingredients

  • 275g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 50g (¹⁄₃ cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 50g (½ cup minus 1 tbsp) ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 50g (½ cup minus 1 tbsp) ground hazelnuts
  • 250g (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into 2cm/¾in cubes
  • 175g (¾ cup plus 2 tbsp) soft light brown sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground anise (or a drop of anise extract)
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the glaze

  • 100g (scant ¾ cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
  • 25ml (scant 2 tbsp) just boiled water

Instructions

1
Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F and line two baking sheets with nonstick baking parchment.
2
Put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat to a soft, pliable dough on a low speed for a couple of minutes. (If making by hand, put both flours, the ground almonds and ground hazelnuts into a large bowl, then work the butter in with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix through the sugar, salt and spices. Add the vanilla extract and milk, and bring the dough together with your hands. Knead for 3 minutes until pliable.)
3
If using a cookie press, select your preferred shape, then stuff the dough into the top. Hold the press over a prepared baking sheet and click the handle to release one cookie. Repeat this process, placing each cookie 1cm/3/8in apart to allow for spreading.
4
If using the mincer method, choose the desired attachment and place your dough in the funnel. Crank the handle with one hand, holding the other hand just below the spout to support the dough as it comes out. When the dough protrudes by 6cm/2½in, cut it off and place it on a baking sheet. Repeat this process, spacing the biscuits 1cm/3/8in apart, until both sheets are full.
5
Bake for 8–10 minutes until just golden.
6
If you don’t have a mincer or cookie press and are making the biscuits by hand, take small, walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll them into sausage shapes around 5cm/2in long. Place them 2cm/¾in apart on the sheets. Press a fork gently into the top edge of each biscuit and drag it down the length of the dough, flattening and lengthening it as you go. Bake as above, but allow at least 10 minutes (hand-formed biscuits tend to be thicker and so take longer to bake).
7
While the biscuits are baking, put the icing sugar into a bowl, pour in the just-boiled water and mix vigorously until a glossy glaze forms. Allow the cooked biscuits to cool for a minute before transferring to a wire rack. Using a pastry brush, glaze each biscuit while still warm. Repeat the whole process again with any remaining dough.
8
Store in an airtight container for up to four weeks.
Last updated one month ago

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