Christbaumgebach (Christmas Tree Biscuits)
and Cookie Paint
This is a decorating cookie called Christbaumgebach, or "Christmas Tree Biscuit" which is meant to be hung on a tree, wreath or greens. Although the baked cookies are edible and their flavor really quite nice, they are really meant to be ornaments and thus are a challenge for any teeth (until you soak them in a bit of tea or cocoa.)
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
Yolks of 2 eggs
1 teaspoon water
Small paint brushes
Blend the dry ingredients together and put them in a pile on a surface you can knead on. Make a well in the center and break in the eggs. With floured hands, slowly pull the flour mixture into the eggs and begin to mix and knead it all together. You'll find that you'll need to keep dusting the dough and your hands with flour to keep it from sticking as you knead. Knead the dough thoroughly and cover with a damp towel to let it relax for at least 15 minutes.
When you're ready to roll out the dough, make sure the table is well floured, as well as your rolling pin. Roll the dough out until it's about 1/8 inch in thickness.
You can cut the dough into any shape you want. Use cookie cutters or create something intricate with a knife or pair of scissors. Remember to dust with flour if there's a suggestion of sticking. And if children are doing this, keep a close eye on the operation.
While the children make shapes, you can put together some special cookie paint for them which gets painted on before the cookies go in the oven. The colors come through beautifully clear. (In fact, it's great for decorating cookies that you plan to eat.)
In a small bowl, beat the yolks together with a teaspoon of water. Divide this mixture into tiny cups (cordial glasses do nicely) and add a couple of drops of food coloring to each.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
After the biscuits are cut out, place them on a greased cookie sheet. Give the children small paint brushes and let them color away. This painting can be quite intricate and elegant if the painters have the inclination and patience.
Before the cookies go in the oven, take a nail and poke a depression in the top of each cookie where you'd like to run thread or a piece of yarn. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they're just barely coloring.
Remove them from the oven when they're done, and as soon as you can handle them without burning yourself, take the nail again and run it all the way through the depression you made before they went in the oven.
When the cookies are completely cool, run yarn or string through the nail hole and hang them wherever you wish.
The recipe is very simple, so it's one kids can easily put together. If you've ever made pasta from scratch before, you'll note a similarity in ingredients, although this recipe contains the addition of sugar. You put it together the same way, too.
This recipe reprinted from King Arthur Flour's Baking Sheet, Vol. III, No. 2, December, 1991.