Thursday, November 29, 2007


Christmas baking brings back memories of cookies I enjoyed as a which had been in the family for generations. My mom always baked peppermint cookies (which used baking ammonia)and jam-jams....and all kinds of other goodies that my dad liked. Grandma Isaak made a dark spice cookie, which was coated with a white glaze after baking. Grandma Baerg made soft, spicy cookies called peppernuts...they all baked together in the pan and we broke them apart to eat them. They were 'melt in your mouth' yummy, but totally different then the peppernuts I now make. Peppernuts (also known as pfeffernusse) are a traditional Mennonite Christmas cookie.

Yesterday was my day for baking heritage cookies! Here's the recipe for this spicy little morsel...

  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup syrup
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground star anise (or ground anise seeds)
  • 6 cups flour (approximately)
  1. Cream margarine and brown sugar; add eggs and mix well. 
  2. Add syrup and buttermilk to which the baking soda has been added. (* Roger's Golden syrup is my syrup of choice, but I think it's a Canadian syrup.) 
  3. Measure 4 cups flour and mix with all the spices, before adding to butter mixture. 
  4. Continue adding flour until a soft dough is formed. 
  5. Refrigerate dough. 
  6. When cold, roll dough into 1/2 inch ropes. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet and freeze until ready to bake. 
  7. With a sharp knife, cut rope into 1/4 inch slices and place on cookie sheets.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. 

A convection oven comes in rather handy when baking cookies!

It looks like enough to feed an army, but they won't last for too long!

Some got delivered next door for the grandkids, and we eat them like 'peanuts'...a handful at a time.

So there you have it. My original recipe had no amount given for I estimated what I use. The Mennonite recipes seem to leave a lot to chance...they cooked by heart! Peppernuts were often made by rolling out the dough, and cutting out the circles with thimbles. Now that would be time consuming!

Here's what I found interesting...Martha Stewart has a peppernut recipe! It's much like the one above, but she rolls the peppernuts in icing sugar while warm. They look nicer, but wouldn't be quite as conducive to putting in the pocket!
While I was baking peppernuts, I had to think of my mother-in-law who used to come for a baking blitz every December. We baked up a storm...I was always ready to 'call it a day' long before she was done. She was the best and I wish she was here to join me in the kitchen again!
There's my little walk down memory lane. Does anyone else in this day and age still bake peppernuts?


  1. Laurie says: I'm getting ready to bake our peppernuts for the Christmas season. We, too, like to fill our pockets and head off to work.

  2. Okay, I'm going to make peppernuts again this year. We love them. I'm wondering about the star anise, do you grind star anniseed or do you use aniseed kernels?
    What a treasure memory.

  3. yikes! does look like an army might stop by for a snack!

    You have it totally figured with lists Judy... life is definitely more important than any list.

    I have been reading some interesting bits in the Financial Post.. Kate Grigg from Orillia said..

    If it's a choice between to do and to be, I choose to be.


  4. Umm...I don't usually make peppernuts. Every few years I make some noodle cookies though.

  5. I used to bake peppernuts but haven't for a few years, been buying them at the local "Mennonite bakery"...they taste just like mine. Now that I see your pics, I'm thinking that maybe this year I'll bake them again..I have to stop reading blogs,I want to bake everything I

  6. Hey Judy, I just wanted to tell you that to hear Randy's music... click on to his Web site and then click on "discography & mp3s", then click on any of his CD's shown on that page and it will show the song list. Click on each of the songs to hear a portion of each song.
    We mail out lots of CD's, so please don't hesitate if you'd like us to send you one or however many.
    Thanks Judy!

  7. I have all the right spices in my cupboard but today I'm looking after little Mac and there sure is not a lot of time to post!!

    We call those long rolls "Snakes" and I get everyone in our family to come over and cut and roll the snakes, because it takes forever and a day to cut them by myself.

    But my kids absolutely love it!!

  8. My family makes these as well. I'll have to compare recipes.

    I got such a chuckle from reading about last year's unfinished projects packed away in the Christmas things. Oh dear! You were soooooo mean to yourself! LOL!!

    Have a wonderful day!

  9. This posting brought a smile to my face...I probably make peppernuts most often - by the ice-cream bucketful - in summer as they are wonderful picnic food. My past has "heritage baking" as you mentioned as well, however the "baking by heart" comment really describes well how many of my older relatives do their baking...heart & soul with a ton of love for tradition and family. Elma


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson