It’s that time of year and I’ve been desperately trying to get on top of my Christmas baking. I’ve made a few already, for instance I’ve already made Marokanky and I’ve also made Gingerbread cookies (which just need to be iced and decorated… they are coming soon. For today I was fiddling with these…Hoblovačky or in English, Carpenter Curls. I’ve always thought these were so darn cute and I love fennel and so it was a challenge keeping them out of my mouth.
Make no mistake these are a bit tedious and finicky but they are well worth it… chewy, sweet, crunchy and the fennel… well what can I say but PUT THAT COOKIE DOWN!
Different people make these differently. Some recipes call to bake the batter in a pan and then cut them with a pizza cutter or cheese cutter and then curl them quickly… This seemed like far too much stress for me. My mother makes these like flat pancakes without the fennel and then rolls them out into something resembling a Pirouette. But I like these best with the fennel and curled up like these carpenter curls… they seem more fun for Christmas.
They are a bit of a pain and you have to roll them or shape them while still warm…. or hot enough to burn your fingers… yes… that fast … but they are well worth the pace… have an extra cup of coffee and go for it…. before you know it you’ll have a nice batch of these that you’ll have to hide from friends and YOURSELF so you have them handy for Christmas.
Hoblovačky – this makes about 100 cookies
- 180 grams of butter
- 420 grams sugar (plain granular)
- 200 grams flour
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 8 egg whites
- fennel seeds (enough to sprinkle on the cookies before you bake them)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the softened butter into the flour and sugar and grate in the lemon zest. Add the vanilla and egg whites and mix with a fork or whisk until smooth. You should have a nice batter.
Line your pans with a silpat sheet (best) or parchment (still a very good idea) or lots of butter (so I’ve heard but not tried).
You can either pipe the batter using a flat tip like the #47 (which is what I used and then I evened and flattened the out with the back of a spoon) or you can spoon them by hand. Spread the batter into strips about 2 inches wide and 4-5 inches long. Make sure that the batter is quite thin and as even as you can get it. You’ll want to give these some room, they don’t spread too much but I was putting about 8 to a pan and that was giving them enough room and also making sure I didn’t have so many coming out of the oven all at once… you need to work fast! As they cool they get almost impossible to shape.
Once you have the batter in strips on the pan then sprinkle with the fennel seeds and bake for about 3-5 minutes, the amount of time will really depend on how thick your batter is… trust me 30 seconds makes a difference so keep your eyes on them. You’ll want to take them out when they are nice and golden brown around the edges and then quickly use a knife or spatula and lift them up, curl them around the handle of a wooden spoon and let them sit for a minute or two until they keep their shape. Again, work fast… you’ll notice that they lose their pliability very quickly and I’ve been told that you can put them back in the oven to warm up if need be for a second or two if you can’t bend them.
These will keep for a while (couple of weeks?) in the fridge or longer in the freezer… It’s cold in my part of the country so we’ve always kept small boxes, lined them with foil or parchment and then stored boxes of cookies in the garage around this time of year. Whatever works!