03 November 2008

this time of the year - part two

Four weeks now, the Pfefferkuchen dough has been quietly resting in his corner of our larder.

So yesterday, I took him up into our kitchen, to get warm again and wake up, and to make the actual cookies.

There's nothing much to say about this part of the process - you roll the dough and go wild with a cookie cutter.
Well, maybe I should tell you there is no point in trying to knead the dough - it's about as pliable as asphalt. Just cut the dough in chunks as it comes out of hibernation and flatten it.

But I can already say that it was a good decision to add more butter to the recipe, as the whole procedure was much less sticky than usual. Also, using darker honey resulted in a much more fragrant dough. Actually, I was quite surprised when I unwrapped the dough, with the memory of the exploded hair-dye still in my nose, and found something rather sweet and spicy and flowery inside. (Alright, there was still a faint whiff of ammonia, but nothing compared to the raw dough a month ago.)

Time is one of my favorite ingredients ever.

Anyway, baking these has to account for the fact that the Pfefferkuchen are little more than solidified honey, so you bake them at a low to moderate temperature (140°C - 160°C) until they just start to take on some colour.

I know, telling when a brown cookie starts to brown is a little bit of a challenge. But once they have stopped raising, it'll take just a few minutes more and then they're done. After the third tray you'll have the hang of it anyway.

Originally, they ought be larger, almost the size of a palm, and plain round or rectangular. But this way, they look nicer, and make better servings than their larger shapes. At least, that's what I think.

Right out of the oven, they taste sweet and spicy, but not particularly good. It is as if the different aromes still struggle to get acquainted, or like an ochestra still trying to find a common tune.

So, like in one of these 'stuck-in-an-elevtor'-movies, you box them all together in one airtight cookie jar and have them battle it out until they have found a way to live together in harmony.

In another four weeks, we'll have our friends over for our annual cookie craze. Then we'll open the lid again and see what has happened inside.

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