Piparkūkas – Pepper bread cookies for a Latvian christmas

Piparkūkas are the best Christmas tradition to have with your family, your kids, friends.

The shops and markets are full of different kind of shapes, but you can always buy the dough to bake them at home. This is what we would always do with my family. It is the perfect way to spend time with your loved ones in the kitchen and do something fun and not dangerous even for smaller children!

This time I decided to try a homemade dough recipe and you will see how incredibly easy it is!

Why make the dough yourself? As with all the homemade recipes, I always like to mention that, if you do everything from scratch at home, it is the best way to control the quality of all the ingredients you use, you can be absolutely sure to have a good quality product and more healthy, as you will never need to put any preservatives, too much salt, sugar or other ingredients that you can do without!

The original recipe would call for pork fat, and malt syrup but sometimes these ingredients are hard to come by, or I would understand if you would prefer not to use pork fat. So some ingredients are substituted. This recipe is more my interpretation of this fantastic Christmas tradition.

INGREDIENTS

  • 300 g flour
  • 80 g butter
  • 140 g honey (or put 100 g honey and 40 g molasses or malt syrup)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tbs nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 ground cardamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder

MAKING THE DOUGH

1. In a heatproof bowl add butter, honey (molasses or malt too, if you’re using them) and sugar.

Put the bowl on a pot full of water and cook it in bain-marie until the butter has completely dissolved and the ingredients can be easily mixed together.

Leave aside until it has cooled.


2. Beat the egg white and fold in the cooled honey and butter mixture.


3. Mix all the spices together.

You can choose the proportions yourself, if you don’t like cardamon, for example, or if you love coriander, or ginger that I haven’t added, please feel free to make this recipe your own with your spice mix.


4. In a big bowl mix flour, the spices and baking powder. Then pour in all the honey liquid and with a spatula or in a mixer combine it all together to make the dough.

The dough might be a little wet, but if your hand sticks to it too much, when you touch it, just add another tablespoon of flour.

As I mentioned in my bread post, all flours are different and absorb liquid differently, so it is sometimes a bit difficult to follow a recipe 100% and expect always the same result. That’s why you shouldn’t worry if the dough is a bit more moist.


5. When your dough is ready, cover it with a plastic kitchen wrap, or I prefer to use those nice reusable beeswax papers you can get nowadays. Leave the dough to rest and cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

5. After two hours, take your dough out of the fridge. Heat your oven to about 200 degrees Celsius. Liberate a nice big area on your kitchen counter and sprinkle some flour. Wait just a few minutes for the dough to become softer to be able to separate it in smaller pieces and roll it out on the sprinkled flour.

You can roll out the dough as thick as you like. Just remember, the thinner the layer, the less time you will need to cook.
Choose whatever cookie shapes you have and like. My favourites are the christmas tree, the heart and the reindeer.

6. When you have cut out the cookie shapes, put them on a silicone pat on the oven tray or you can use some baking paper. If you don’t have either, be sure to butter the pan slightly, so the cookies don’t stick too much.

7. Cook in the oven for approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Just be sure to check them once in a while, as every oven is a bit different and it will greatly depend on the thickness of the cookies. They should come out nice and lightly browned on the top.

8. Once cooked, leave them to cool.

And voilá, homemade pepper (ginger) piparkūkas from scratch! Enjoy them with the family and gift them to others for Christmas 🙂

About

Graduate in Gastronomic Sciences, Q Arabica Grader, WSET L2 in wine. Obsessed with cooking new recipes, I love visiting producers and travel for food!

3 thoughts on “Piparkūkas – Pepper bread cookies for a Latvian christmas

  1. Hi! This looks so delicious! All the shapes look so pretty 🙂 Once they are cooled can I add icing?
    p.s. I started a blog recently, It would be so great if you’d check it out!

    1. Hello! Thank you so much for visiting my blog 🙂 You can definitely put frosting once the cookies have cooled! Send us some pictures, if you make them 🙂 I’ll definitely go and explore your blog!

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