It’s the time of year that the oven sees lots of action – this year, it’s extra exciting as the new oven seems to have quite different ideas about temperatures than the old one had. Things turn out slightly… differently than I’m used to, with baking times for the cookies being significantly longer now. Seems like the old one tended to run a bit hot in the temperature range that is needed for cookies!

So, anyway, for your delight this year: Spitzbuben. These are a rather new addition to our assortment of Weihnachtsplätzchen, though they are a firm staple in German Xmas baking traditions, more or less all over Germany, though they do come under different names. Apart from Spitzbuben (which would be rascals or rogues), they can be called Linzer Augen, Linzer Plätzchen, or Hildabrötchen (literally: Hilda bread rolls). In the town where I grew up, something similar, only larger than a Plätzchen, was sold in the bakery close to my school under the moniker “Pfauenauge” (peacock’s eye, the one on the tail feather). Why those names? I have no clue at all. I can tell you, though, that these things are… delicious.

It’s a pastry dough, stuck together with red currant jelly, and traditionally  their shape is small and round with a peep-hole in the top layer, so you can see the jelly. Like this, for instance:

You might notice that there is both red and yellow stuff filling these. The yellow is apricot jam, because I happen to like that a lot as well.

So here you go, the recipe:

200 g butter
200 g flour
100 g powdered sugar
100 g almonds, peeled and ground fine
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla sugar

Beat the soft butter together with the sugar until fluffy, then beat in egg yolks. Mix in the remaining ingredients; the resulting dough is very soft and sticky and will need cooling for minimum of one hour.

Roll the dough to a thickness of about 2 mm, and cut out cookies. If you want to do the traditional German thing, they are circles, half of them with a hole in the middle (here you can get special cookie cutters with integrated hole-cutting-thing and even with a stamper to throw out the cookie, and of course with different shapes for the holes).

Bake in a fan oven for about 8-10 min at 160°C. After the cookies have cooled, spread jam on the complete circles and cover with the circles with a hole. The traditional stuff for this is, as stated above, red currant jelly (not jam!).

Makes about 70 cookies, so it’s enough to try out both kinds of filling!

The other seasonal recipes that I blogged in the past are:

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Things going on here? I’m still catching up, though it is sort of getting slowly, slightly, better. Or at least that is what I tell myself…

There’s preparation for the next workshops (getting the tools together, and fine-tuning plans); there’s sending out of orders that come in via the shop; and there’s some general end-of-year attempt at getting things into a better order.

I’m still woefully behind on the Textile Forum homework, and even more woefully behind on the Tablet Weaving Video Project, and I hope that tomorrow will actually see that change.

And on a completely unrelated aside – here’s a link to an article that I found by following some random links (as you do) – my spinning experiment article is actually cited in thoughtco.com’s “Dictionary of Archaeology”. How cool is that?

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Well, technically my blogiversary is not today, but was on Saturday. Which means that normally I would more or less ignore that, and just go on with things like nothing has happened, but…

But.

This year sees my tenth blogging anniversary. The tenth! I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this. It’s been close to two thousand posts and more than one and a half thousand comments. Ten freaking years.

So… here’s to the next years. I don’t know if I will make it another ten – but there will be at least one more…

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Just in case you’re looking for something delightfully weird to bake this season, here’s a lovely long blog post about how to make cuneiform gingerbread. The post is from last year, but hey, what’s a year more or less when talking about ancient cuneiform scripts?

And in case you don’t want to copy an existing text, there’s alternatives to this. First of all, an online transcribing gadget that will give out your own text in cuneiform script. Or you can check out the twitter feed of Team Cooleiform, a group of students from Helsinki who have fun doing cuneiform scripts. (I met some of them at the WorldCon in Helsinki, where they made clay tablets… not transliterated, but actually translated the things you asked for into ancient Sumerian. Which, it turned out, meant a good bit of discussion and checking and thinking when I got my tablet inscribed with “keep flying”…)

So maybe, if you ask nicely, they might even translate something like “this is a cookie” for scribing that onto your gingerbread… who knows?

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Yesterday’s post reminded me that I have not written about the Forum yet… so here are at least some pictures that I took to hopefully delight you!

There was another instance of the Pompeii Dyeing Experiment, so liquids were boiled up and, in this case, also decanted in sampler jars (also known as “empty jam jars”):

Then there was some tablet weaving:

and there was lots and lots of braiding, much of that with loops:

 

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Today was a library day – I’m writing on an article about clothes on a ship depiction, and that needed some research (plus bringing back some due books I had loaned out for that article), so today was spent among books, with a nice lunch break to meet a friend.

Which means that you get a gratuitous, late-in-the-day textile picture:

This is my try at weaving rigid heddle pickup patterns – something I had wanted to do for ages, and I finally got around to trying it at this year’s Textile Forum. It was… not exactly what I had expected, and it is one of the techniques that are more “meh, don’t need to do that” for me.

The basic principle is simple: You have threads in two colours, and you can let the non-background colour come do the surface by picking it up and suppressing the background colour threads between your pattern colour threads. Basically, this means you can do anything at any time (as opposed to twill tablet weave patterning, where the ground structure gives you a framework that you cannot break through). Which, it turns out, is a degree of freedom that I found awkward to handle… plus I did not really care for the many long floats on the back of the band.

That said – I was really happy to have finally tried this!

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A while ago, I was in a restaurant with a few English friends, and at the end, when there was the bill to pay, there was a bit of confusion as to how tipping is done in Germany.

Just in case you are wondering about that now – it’s done in a kind of reverse haggling. The server adds up what you owe to the restaurant, then you hand over the money and say a number that is a bit higher – depending on how much you want to tip. The guideline is to add about ten percent if you were happy with the service, but in practice, Germans often round up to a full Euro in about that range (which means, with small amounts, there can be server-friendly prices and not so server-friendly prices). Leaving a tip on the table is not an usual practice here.

So, for instance, the server tells you “Eighteen fifty”, and you say “twenty” and hand over that 50 € note, getting back thirty Euros. Alternatively, you can of course give your server a 20€ note and say “stimmt so” or “Danke” – the latter can possibly lead to misunderstandings if you are just trying to be polite when handing over the money!

Austria has similar tipping practices, as has Switzerland, at least as far as I know. I still remember being in a country where it was customary to leave the tip on the table for the first time – it was really weird and confusing for me!

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