While my mama is an exceptionally good home cook, biscuits aren’t really her favourite thing to make and I didn’t get my love of Advent baking from her. I learned about the magic of Adventsgebäck as a small child from Omi, her mother, who took it upon herself to teach me all that she knew, filling the German biscuit void in our Welsh household. Later, during my early teenage years, and much to everyone’s delight, I baked my way through countless German baking books during Advent, adding to the knowledge Omi had passed on.
The one exception to mama’s Christmas baking was Doppeldecker, buttery biscuits filled with jam and a heart (or star) cut of out the centre; Germany’s answer to the jammy dodger. These she baked every December without fail because they were my brother’s favourite. I happily made up for the rest of the biscuits on the Bunter Teller.
Made with apricot jam instead of raspberry, these are called Marillenringe and are an Austrian Advent specialty. Also, if you switch the cut-out heart for three small circles they become Pfauenaugen, which means ‘peacock eyes’.
You can find Anja’s book Advent: Festive German Bakes to Celebrate the Coming of Christmas now.
Doppeldecker Jam-filled double deckers
- 350 g (2 2⁄3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 125 g (1⁄2 cup plus 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temp
- 180 g (1 cup) caster superfine sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
- Raspberry jam, jelly
- Icing, confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F and line two large baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment.
- Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix through. Now add the egg and extra yolk and knead into a stiff dough. (Alternatively, put all the ingredients into the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat until they come together as a stiff dough.)
- Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Divide the dough in half and roll one half out to a 5mm/1/8in thickness. Cut out small rounds using a fluted cutter (see pages 258–9). Lay these on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the other half of dough, laying the rounds on the second baking sheet. Use a smaller star- or heart-shaped cutter to cut out a shape from the centre of half of the rounds. (You can either place these small cut-out shapes on another lined baking sheet and bake them after the Doppeldecker, or simply roll them up into a ball of dough with all the offcuts and continue making the larger biscuits.)
- Bake for about 10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Transfer the biscuits to two wire racks, one for the whole biscuits and one for the cut- out biscuits, to cool completely.
- Once cool, spoon about 1⁄2 teaspoon of jam onto each whole biscuit. Dust each cut-out biscuit with icing sugar and gently lay one on top of each jam-covered biscuit. Stored in an airtight tin, these will keep for at least 3 weeks