Swiss-Cameroonian Xmas Cookies

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What do you do on a day when the rain showers down in Joburg? Well, if your name is Regina Osih and you are a Cameroonian-Swiss foodie of note you invite your friends and bake up a storm. Especially if Christmas is around the corner and you happen to have a drawer full of cellophane bags, red ribbons and golden Christmas stickers.

In short, you set up a smaller biscuit factory in your kitchen engaging your children, friends and friends’ children in a smooth production line that ends in a row of pretty gift bags of picture-perfect Swiss jam biscuits. True to Swiss precision Regina even rolls out the dough along measure sticks that make sure all biscuits are exactly 5 mm thick. No more, no less.

Forget about keeping time for the oven though. All ovens are different Regina points out, so you simply bake the biscuits ‘until they are done.’ This means they should be slightly golden, but definitely not brown. Growing up in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, Regina used to bake these ‘Spitzbuben’ with her German-Swiss mother for Christmas.

’I guess growing up bicultural has its advantages and disadvantages, but the greatest advantage was to have input from both sides into our culinary experience. From my dad I got the love for spice and complex savoury food, and from my mom’s side it is the refined baking and European traditions that were transferred.’

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Regina

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The most amazing baking board!

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Lillian does her bit.

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The assembly line: Malaika and Thil

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German red currant jelly.

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First time I taste Cameroonian coffee. The Kenyan contingent of the assembly line was very skeptical.

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Regina’s recipe for Spitzbuben is from allrecipes.com and I have simply copied it out below:

Makes 5 dozens

  • 1 1/8 cups butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fruit preserves, any flavor (Regina says it should really be German Johannisbeer Gelee, ie red currant jelly)
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar for decoration

To Make Vanilla Sugar: Combine 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar with a rinsed and dried vanilla bean in a pint jar. Cover and shake well. Shake occasionally for 2 -3 days. Use flavored sugar, replenishing with fresh sugar, as needed.

Beat butter or margarine until soft and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla sugar, and salt until mass has a lighter color.

Beat the egg white into the creamed mixture, making sure to incorporate fully. Add in the flour and mix. Cover the dough, and rest the dough in the refrigerator for one hour.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and roll it out until it is about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out circles with pastry cutters. Cut smaller shapes into the middle of half of the circles.

Bake in a preheated 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) oven for 6 to 8 minutes.

Warm up marmalade, apricot, or raspberry jam. Put some jam on the cookies without the holes in the middle. Then put the cookies with the wholes on top of the ones with jam. Sprinkle a bit of confectioners’ sugar on top to make them look nice.

You find the original recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/spitzbuben/

Happy Christmas!

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