How many cookbooks do you own? Can you count them? Do you want to? I don’t even want to count the amount of cookbooks I own. I am mad for cookbooks! I can’t resist them! I am probably a cookbook addict, I would say. As much as I love to buy, read and own cookbooks, I rarely cook more than 10 recipes in each. A few year ago I came across A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. A book showcasing “recipes from America’s rich immigrant heritage”. The recipes within the pages of this book intrigued me so much so that I wanted to bake every single one. And with that thought I started my own personal challenge to bake my way through the book. This is recipe number 43. Pretty good for a cook who barely gets through 10 recipes in any one cookbook. Admittedly it’s taken some time but in the next few months I hope to change that.
This time one of my favourite recipes in the book, Pfeffernüsse, a deliciously spicy sweet recipe from Germany.

Pfeffernüsse adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

1/2 cup castor (superfine) sugar
1/2 cup honey
125g unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 cups plain all purpose flour
1/2 finely chopped almonds

Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup water

Prepare the dough a few hours ahead or even overnight
Put the sugar, honey and butter into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter in melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool until tepid. Whisk in the egg and add the anise, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coriander, cardamom, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in with the whisk. Mix the flour and almonds in with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F. Line two baking pans with baking paper. Shape the chilled dough into a 20cm by 10cm (8in x 4in) rectangle and cut into 32 pieces. ( I love this method of portioning the dough!). Roll each square into a ball and place on the baking trays leaving room between each for spreading. Put about 16 biscuits on each tray.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cracks appear on top. Allow to cool slightly then complete cooling on racks.

Set the racks over a tray or baking paper to catch the glaze the will drip off the biscuits.Make the glaze by mixing the icing sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat until boiling. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and brush the biscuits with the glaze immediately. Allow the glaze to set

Roll in icing sugar or dust with icing sugar as I have done.