Sunday, 16 March 2014

Vanillekipferl: Delicious Days

My interest in German baking was piqued when in Berlin last year. Even outside the Christmas season, the city is packed with bakeries on every street corner selling buttery, sugary morsels of deliciousness alongside freshly baked loaves of fragrant bread.

The Vanillekipferl is a classic German biscuit usually baked at Christmas. While it's definitely out of season now, that's no excuse for not making them! 

These goodies also have a little history behind them. The story goes that a long time ago, the Ottomans - in attempts to expand their empire - worked very hard to invade and conquer lands in Austria/Hungary. To stop them the Polish, Germans and Austro-Hungarian forces got together to drive the Turks out of their lands forever and won. To celebrate, bakers made little crescent-shaped biscuits - which mimics the crescent on the Turkish flag - to commemorate the victory.

Historical or not, these biscuits are some of the best biscuits I've ever made. It's ever-so-slightly crunchy, tender and melts in your mouth. Be warned. They're highly addictive

Adapted from Delicious Days

175g Salted Butter, softened
80g Caster Sugar
Pinch of Salt
100g Ground Almonds
200g Plain Flour
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
2 Egg Yolks

Some Icing Sugar mixed with a little Vanilla Powder

In a large bowl, place the Butter, Sugar, Salt, Ground Almonds and Flour. Mix through with a whisk.

Make a well in the centre. Add in the Yolks and Vanilla Essence. With a spatula, gently mix all the ingredients together until it forms a ball of dough that comes away  almost cleanly from the sides of the bowl. Divide dough into two and roll each part into a log in some baking paper. Secure the ends and place both logs in the fridge for an hour.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 120 Celsius and line the baking trays with baking paper.

Remove one log of dough from the fridge. Cut into equal slices and halve each slice. Roll each half into a short rope and use your fingers to taper the edges. Bend into a crescent and place on a baking tray. Do this until all the dough is used up. Chill the biscuits and baking tray for 15 minutes.

Place the baking tray in the oven. Increase the heat to 155 Celsius and bake for about 20 minutes. Bake one tray at a time.

While the biscuits are baking mix the Icing Sugar and Vanilla Powder in a bowl. Then get an empty container ready and line it with baking paper.

As soon as the biscuits turn a light golden in colour, remove them from the oven. Using a spatula transfer a few of them to the Icing Sugar mixture. (Be careful as the biscuits will be very fragile at this point.) Dust the biscuits in the Icing Sugar, then transfer to a container. Do this in batches while the biscuits are still hot.

Repeat with the second tray of biscuits.

Biscuits will keep for a few days in an airtight container... if they last that long!

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