1/4teaspoonanise oilIf using extract, you may want to increase this amount
3 3/4cupssifted cake flour
Gather all your ingredients so that you have everything close at hand.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored, about 15 minutes.
Slowly beat in powdered sugar, then the softened butter.
In a small bowl, whisk together baking powder and water. Add to butter mixture along with anise oil and orange rind. Gradually beat in enough flour to make a stiff dough. (May reserve 1/2 cup of flour to use while kneading.)
Turn onto floured surface and knead to make a good print without sticking.
Roll dough 3/8" - 1/2" thick (deeper molds require a thicker dough). Brush powdered sugar on the mold image, then press mold onto dough, working from center outward. Using a cookie cutter or pastry wheel, trim cookie and place on an UNLINED baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper. (Do not use a silicone baking mat for this cookie.) I find that an easy transfer can be made by using an offset spatula. Repeat for each cookie. (If you press multiple cookies at one time, you may distort the images, so it is best to do each one-at-a-time, and remember to clean any particles on molds and brush with powdered sugar each time as well.)
Allow cookies to dry uncovered for 24 hours before baking. Drying preserves the images during baking.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 225-300 degrees. You may want to test your oven temperature on one cookie. The smaller the cookies, the lower the temperature. Cookies may "bubble" while baking. Check once or twice during the baking process and simply press them down. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until barely golden on the bottom.
Allow to cool on wire racks and then store in tin containers. They will keep for months this way and will improve with age. Makes 12-24 cookies, depending on the size of molds.
*Unless otherwise indicated, all butter used on this recipe site is salted.**It is said that in the past bakers would make these cookies after Thanksgiving to give as gifts at Christmas, insisting that the cookies are stored in tin containers for at least 2 weeks (1 month was preferred) before allowing anyone to eat them. You will find that the licorice flavor mellows with time as does the hardening "cracker" tops.