To get in the holiday spirit, we were invited to take part in a Christmas cookie cooking lesson. Jindrak is one of the most popular bakeries in Linz and is home to the famous Linzer Torte, the oldest kind of cake in the world. Before we started baking, we learned that Jindrak makes around 7 tons of baked goods a day! We were going to make 3 favorite, traditional, Austrian Christmas cookies. Vanillekipferl, Linzer cookies, and lebkuchen.
We started with the Vanillekipferl. This is a crescent-shaped cookie that tastes of hazelnut and almonds. It was probably the hardest cookie to make. We were given the dough and told to separate it into 4 equal parts. Then we rolled each part out into 4 long strings. We sliced the strings into equal 1-inch squares. Each square was then rolled out to form a little log. We placed them on to the baking sheet and molded each piece into a crescent shape. The tricky part about this was rolling all the pieces evenly so they wouldn’t burn in the oven. Before we began, we watched a baker do this. He was rolling each piece extremely fast and all of them looked perfect. Our group was not as successful. Some of ours were extremely thick, while others had skinny ends. We were hoping we didn’t get too many burnt ones!
The next cookie we made was the Linzer cookies. The dough was like shortbread. We took turns rolling out the dough and cutting it out with cookie cutters. We needed to make equal parts for the tops and bottoms. Once these were baked, we would be filling them with apricot filling and creating little sandwiches.
The last was the lebkuchen. These are the Austrian and German version of gingerbread cookies. We rolled out the dough and cut out different shapes with Christmas cookie cutters. After they were placed on the baking sheet, we brushed them with milk and stuck on candied cherries and assorted nuts.
Here is an example of what they looked like.
Then they were all placed in the oven.
After about 30 minutes and a piece of cake later, we went back into the kitchen to see how our cookies turned out. They smelled and looked delicious! The vanillekipferl and Linzer cookies were sprinkled with powered sugar. We placed all the cookies in boxes to take home.
As you can see, the Linzer cookies were my favorite. By the time I took a picture I had eaten almost half the box. We were given the recipes for these cookies but they were written in German. I was able to find them online. The links are below.
Linzer Cookies (This one even includes a video!)
It was such a wonderful experience. I will definitely be adding these to my Christmas cookie recipes.
After baking at Jindrak, the girls here in Linz decided to do a cookie exchange. We were to make our favorite Christmas cookies. I had a couple I wanted to try. My first year in Austria, I found a wooden cookie cutter at a Christmas market and was given cookie recipes for these traditional cutters. I had never attempted to make them but figured why not. The first were Springerles flavored with anise. The second was a gingerbread recipe that had way more spices than the traditional gingerbread cookie.
After making each batch of dough, I let them chill. I rolled them out to about 1/2 in thickness and began molding them with my cookie cutter. This part was hard to get used to but once I had a system down, the process went fairly quickly. I stamped the cookie cutter across the dough and then cut each snowman out in rectangles.
The cookies then had to sit uncovered overnight. This was so a “crust” could form and hold the details of the snowman. After baking, the springerles cookies were frosted with a powered sugar icing.
The last cookie I made was a family favorite for me. Candy cane peppermint cookies! These cookies I remember making at my grandparents house every year before Christmas.
In the end, all the cookies turned out delicious. And all the cookies we swapped at the exchange were so tasty. I’ll be eating cookies for weeks!