To take a break from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Orangina began heading west for home on the Lincoln Highway. Strasburg, Pennsylvania was our first stop.
Driving past Amish buggies and a farming wagon pulled by four horses, we loved the pastoral views of Lancaster County. We stopped in Strasburg to visit The Springerle House, where a family has been making springerle cookies for over 100 years.
Springerle date back to 14th-century Germany. Their name means “little jumper” or “little knight.” Hand-carved wooden molds are used to imprint pictures of flowers, animals, religious images, and scenes from daily life onto cookie dough that is traditionally flavored with anise. The impression becomes sharp as the cookie dries before baking.
My mother is an accomplished springerle baker. In fact, at Christmastime, friends place orders for her springerle. When she lived in Germany, she started her collection of hand-carved wooden springerle molds. Today, her acquisitions are replicas of molds from museums in Germany and Switzerland. Whenever we go to Germany, we look for new molds and ways to decorate with springerle. We also buy them in bakeries and bring them home to hang on our Christmas tree.
There’s nothing like savoring a springerle with Glühwein at the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt or munching on a springerle while watching the glockenspiel at Rothenburg ob der Tauber re-enact the town’s famous Thirty Years’ War story. But it’s great to have discovered a source for springerle inspiration that’s much closer to home.
The Springerle House sells springerle in lemon, orange, hazelnut, chocolate, almond, vanilla, and anise flavors. Some are decorated with edible gold paint. You can also purchase springerle molds there. But I was most interested in the springerle ornaments, made from a mixture of ash and paper pulp and hand-painted by Lancaster County artists using traditional Pennsylvania Dutch colors. I bought one of a harpist, another of a shepherd and his flock, and a bee-related third one. Now I’ve got my eye on a spectacular Minnesinger springerle ornament, celebrating the medieval German troubadours who sung courtly love songs.
We couldn’t stay long in Strasburg, but we were so glad we stopped on our way to our next destination: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.