3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
12/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon anise extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the dough
2 to 3 tablespoons whole or crushed anise seeds
Cook's note: For softer cookies, let the unbaked dough set less time, use a higher baking temperature, and bake less time. (See accompanying story.)
Have all the ingredients at room temperature 68 to 70 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Whisk 3 1/4 cups flour and baking powder together thoroughly. Set aside.
Beat on high speed 4 eggs until lightened in color. Gradually add sugar, lemon zest, and anise extract and beat until lightened in color, creamy, and thick enough that it drops in thick ribbons, about 3 minutes more. Stir in flour mixture until well blended and smooth. Sprinkle a clean work surface with 1/4 cup flour. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and sprinkle with a little more flour.
Knead in enough flour to firm the dough and make it manageable. Divide the dough in half and place one portion in a sealable plastic bag to prevent it from drying out. Roll out the other portion to 1/4-inch thick, lifting the dough and lightly dusting the work surface and rolling pin as necessary.
Lightly dust a springerle carved rolling pin or cookie molds with flour; tap off the excess. Firmly roll or press the springerle rolling pin or molds into the dough to imprint designs. Cut the designs apart using a pastry wheel or sharp knife. With a spatula, transfer cookies to cookie sheets, spacing about 1/2-inch apart. Gather up the dough scraps and knead into the reserved dough. Repeat the rolling and imprinting process until all the dough is used. Set the cookies aside, uncovered, for 10 to 12 hours.
To bake, position a rack in the center of preheated 300-degree oven. If desired sprinkle cookies with whole or crushed anise seeds. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are almost firm, but not colored, about 18 minutes or less. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.
Yield: 2 to 3 dozen assorted 2 to 4-inch cookies
Source: Joy of Cooking All About Cookies