A little Christmas baking

Who loves shortbread at Christmas? It’s one of our favourites here in the office. And it would seem our colleagues over in Germany love the german version, spritzgebaeck, too. We went along to Marxen Bakery in Mettlach in search of their traditional family recipe.

A German tradition
Christmas in Germany is all about baking delicious treats! Houses smell amazing and homemade cookies are shared with friends, neighbours, Auntie Lilly and anyone else who happens to pop round. The undeniable favourite is the simple ‘spritzgebaeck’, with its shortbread-like consistency and crispy, buttery flavour.

It’s a family thing
We went along to Marxen Bakery in Mettlach (home of the German Lands’ End Headquarters) to meet Wolfgang Marxen, son of the famous Mr Marxen Senior, to see how it’s done. Marxen Bakery are a family business who have been serving tourists and residents with their tasty breads, cakes and more since 1974. They really know their stuff!  We came away not only with a batch of delicious, fresh treats, but the traditional family recipe as well…

Making spritzgebaeck

The Ingredients
It goes without saying that we slightly had to adapt the recipe, since you probably won’t want to make the quantity Marxen usually make! The following quantities are about 1/20 of what baker Marxen whips up in a day in the run-up to Christmas.

You will need:

  • 310g butter, softened
  • 250g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 425g flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • a pinch of salt

Don your apron and get started!
Preheat the oven to 180°, gas mark 4. First, cream butter, sugar and egg until fluffy. Then add flour, starch, hazelnuts and a dash of salt and start kneading. The dough will appear firm rather than soft. Shape it into a bread-like, elongated form, which you then leave to rest in the fridge while wrapped in cling film. To obtain the classic groove pattern, spritzgebaeck is typically processed in a meat grinder, which really works best for this recipe, and then cut into cookie sized portions. If you’re feeling creative, shape your cookies by hand or use a cookie cutter.

Happiness lies on a baking tray
Spread out all cookies on ungreased baking paper and then bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown. Leave to cool before removing from the tray or decorate as you wish. Enjoy!

They’re easy to vary as well, by adding different flavours – vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate – or how about adding some marzipan paste to the dough? Perhaps decorate with chocolate sprinkles. Get creative!