Christmas Baking

Every time around Christmas I am in the mood for baking. Once I am home everyone knows – the kitchen is off limits. I have to have my space! Jokes aside but I feel this time of the year is the most perfect one for making baked goods and just for cooking as a whole. I get such an inspiration from everything around me.  Just imagine that – outside is snowing, you are home, cookies are baking in the oven while you are reading a book and sipping on some hot chocolate. Well if that is not a perfect picture I don’t know what is.

I will share my perfect recipe for Christmas cookies and no, I don’t mean gingerbread cookies – everyone is making them. I got this recipe from my grandmother and she probably took it from her mother and so on and so forth but I think these are the most amazing ones. They are very popular in the German-speaking world under the name Linzer cookies. They consist mainly of dough with cinnamon and lemon crust and apricot jam in the middle.

Since my grandmother passed away 15 years ago, no one has made them at home and they don’t really sell them in my home country. It is very funny how I rediscovered them but I am telling you know how it all happened. I think it was June or July and I was at home, already on my summer break and I had nothing to do. So I decided I would just bake something. I went and took out my grandmother’s recipe book and let me tell you that is not a real recipe book. It is mostly a notebook filled out with pages and pages with different recipes, many of which Austrian. I was skipping through the pages when I reached a cookie recipe. Since I was not very experienced in the kitchen I decided that would be an easier thing to begin with.

After I chose the recipe I started preparing all of the ingredients and mixing them according to the instructions. Once I got to the cinnamon I cannot describe the feeling that got into me. I was taken aback! The smell of the dough was so familiar but I haven’t smelled anything like that in the last 15 years – how could it be? I’ve completely forgotten about these cookies obviously and found them again by pure luck. There were like hundreds recipes in that recipe book – it was not a coincidence that I found exactly this one.

So I started making the dough and is not really complicated at all – you just have to have suitable cutter shapes for the cookies but that is a piece of cake – they sell them everywhere apparently. Once I cut the forms out I baked 4 or 5 trays with them. The most amazing thing happened when my father came back from work and the first thing he sensed was that smell. I think I almost saw tears in his eyes – the familiar sent brought him back to his childhood memories and reminded him of his mom. It was emotional and beautiful and ever since I try to make them at least twice per year.

And here you have the recipe which I think now has been in my family for more than 100 years.

Ingredients:

280 gr flour

1 tsp baking powred

185 gr butter

2 eggs

70 g sugar

1 lemon’s zest

1-2 tsp cinnamon (I love it with more cinnamon)

½ jar of apricot jam

Mix in a big bowl all the ingredients except the jam and form dough from it. After you have the right consistency roll out the dough and make sure you put some flour on your rolling stick. You maybe want to have the thickness of 5 mm since for each cookie you need two parts. The cutting forms for a Linzer cookie are normally two – one which makes a whole cookie and one with a circle in the middle (so you can see the jam). Make sure to have equal number of the two halves – one whole and one with a circle. After that bake them in a preheated oven at 180oC until they are slightly brownish (depends on the oven – it takes around 15 minutes in mine). After that take them out and leave them to cool off. Once they are not hot use a knife and spread some jam on the whole cookie and put the one with the circle on top – it is that easy.

Enjoy!