Halloween is behind us, which means it is full steam ahead to Christmas! Here in Munich, the world-famous Christmas markets are already starting to be built and the stores are groaning with advent calendars and decorations.
All over Germany, cooks are rolling up their sleeves and getting down to the serious business of baking Plätzchen or Christmas cookies. Today, I’m sharing my recipe for the best Spitzbuben, or Linzer Augen cookies.
What are Spitzbuben?
Spitzbuben are a German cookie made from two layers of deliciously crumbly, buttery dough filled with redcurrant or raspberry jelly.
Spitzbuben go by various names in different places and have found their way to many countries across the world.
In New Zealand, I grew up with a similar cookie, called a Shrewsbury, whereas the British version is called a Jammie Dodger!
Even in the Germanic-speaking countries, they have all sorts of regional names: Linzer Augen (Linzer Eyes) are named after the city of Linz in Austria and lend their name to the American Linzer cookies.
However you call them, they are delicious!
Are German Christmas Cookies really such a big thing?
Absolutely! German Christmas cookies are a delight and as much a part of the season as Christmas trees and Father Christmas (possibly more so). It is always a treat to receive a tin of lovingly baked cookies at this time of year, and not at all unusual for that tin to contain 20 DIFFERENT types of cookies!
Seriously! I am completely in awe of the amount of care and effort that is taken in baking these beautiful, sometimes intricate cookies. Opening a tin of cookies is like opening up a treasure chest, and everybody has a favourite.
I’ve already shared my recipes for two of the most beloved cookies, Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars) and Vanilllekipferl (Vanilla Moons), and today we are adding to those with Spitzbuben (which means Rascals, or naughty boys – cute, huh?)
For the best Spitzbuben, keep the dough cold
When working with short, buttery doughs like this one, it is important to keep the dough as cold as possible.
That way you will get perfect, melt in the mouth results every time. If you’re baking these in the southern hemisphere, I’d suggest dividing the dough into quarters and baking in the coolest part of the day.
Choose a tart or tangy jelly
For the best tasting Spitzbuben it is important to use a jelly that is not too sweet. Traditionally they are filled with bright and beautiful redcurrant jelly (you can try making your own with my recipe here) but raspberry or plum are both delicious too.
Well, it’s all go in my kitchen and the Weihnachtsbäckerei (Christmas bakery) is in full steam. Have you started your Christmas baking yet? Let me know in the comments below!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make Spitzbuben in advance?
You sure can! All Christmas cookies are made well in advance as there can be a lot of work involved.
How do I store German Christmas cookies?
They are traditionally kept in metal cookie tins, rather than tightly sealed containers. In very humid climates I’d suggest keeping them in the fridge.
Can Spitzbuben be made without eggs?
Yes, replace the egg yolks with a few spoonfuls of milk, just enough to bring the mixture together.
Can Spitzbuben be made without nuts?
Yes, they can. Replace the nuts with 50-75g of plain flour. They’re nicer with nuts though!
Can I freeze Spitzbuben?
Yes! My mother in law freezes her delicious cookies with great success every year. In my household, they all get eaten before they come anywhere near the freezer!
Spitzbuben - German Christmas Cookies
Spitzbuben are one of the most beautiful traditional German Christmas cookies. Also known as Linzer Augen or Linzer Cookies, the delicious combination of buttery short pastry and tangy redcurrant jelly is a Christmas classic.
for the dough:
- 300g (10.5 oz.) plain flour
- 200g (7 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- 100g (3.5 oz.) powdered / icing sugar
- 100g (3.5 oz.) ground almonds / almond meal
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- pinch of salt
- 2 egg yolks
- powdered sugar / icing sugar for dusting
for the filling:
- 100g (3.5 oz.) redcurrant jelly or raspberry jam
- MAKE THE DOUGH: Measure the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted. Cut the butter into large chunks and add to the bowl. Run the mixer on low speed until the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs. Add the powdered sugar, almonds, vanilla sugar, zest, salt and egg to the bowl and mix until completely combined.
- KNEAD THE DOUGH: Using your hands, squeeze the dough together, then turn it out onto the benchtop and knead very briefly, just enough to make a smooth dough. Form into a round, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
- PREPARE: When the dough has rested in the fridge, heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4 and line two baking trays with baking paper or silicone mats.
- ROLL AND CUT: Divide the dough into two even pieces. Take the first piece and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to approx 5mm thick. Cut out 35-40 rounds, using a smaller cookie cutter or the wide end of a piping tip to cut a hole in the middle of each (see notes). Re-roll leftover dough and repeat until the first half is used. Count how many cookie tops you have cut - you’ll need to cut the same amount again.
- BAKE: Bake the Spitzbuben tops in the middle of the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until just very slightly browning around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. While the cookie tops are baking, roll and cut the bases. After you have removed the tops from the oven, bake the bases for 12 minutes.
- DECORATE: When the cookies are cool, generously dust the cookie tops with powdered sugar. Stir the jelly or jam in a small bowl until smooth, then put about ½ a teaspoon full on a cookie base. Carefully place one of the cookie tops onto the base and twist gently to seal. Return to the tray and repeat with all remaining cookies.
- ALLOW TO SET: Cover the cookies loosely with a piece of baking paper and allow to set for a few hours or overnight before gently packing into a cookie tin.
PIN ME FOR LATER!
I like to use a special cookie cutter that does double duty and cuts the shape in the middle as well as the outside. If you like, you can simply use two different sizes of cookie-cutter, or use the wide end of a piping tip to cut the holes instead.
It's important to weigh your ingredients when making Christmas cookies. For the best result I recommend a small, portable digital scale (link below).
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 136Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 17mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
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Spitzbuben are my German husband’s favorite Christmas cookies, so after a quick search I found your recipe. They turned out excellent! My husband says I could sell them. They are delicious with a faint taste of lemon in the shortbread-like cookie. And they are beautiful. On my husband’s suggestion I used a thimble to cut out the hole, that was occasionally dipped in flour. Thank you for making my holiday even more special. Merry Christmas Jay and a happy and healthy New Year!
Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for your lovely words, you have made my day! Spitzbuben are my favourite Christmas cookies too, so I am delighted you found this recipe. Your husband is quite right, it is traditional to make the hole in these cookies with a thimble (we call it a Fingerhut or ‘finger hat’ in Germany!) I’m so happy you both enjoyed them and wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2023! J.
Hello! I was curious as to why you need two different sized pieces? And it doesn’t specify if the tops or the bottoms should be larger? In the pictures of these cookies it looks like they are both the same, only one has a hole cut into it?
Sorry for the confusion here, I have my dough resting and it looks great!
Hi there! I am so excited to hear you are baking Spitzbuben today! You are quite right, both cut outs (top and bottom) should be the same size. The recipe will work out perfectly fine if you simply divide the dough into two and cut out an equal number of pieces. I’ll update the recipe to make this more clear! Happy baking and all the very best for the new year! J.