Treats treats treats!

If you, like me, need some last minutes gifts or just want to make some sweet treats for the dark times, we have collected some traditional regional recipes to celebrate winter solstice.

Discussion starter was this curious apparatus I once bought in the Czech Republic but never got around to try to use. Veronika Burian was able to identify them as the iconic Vosí Hnízda – Czech rum beehives – she knew and helped with translation of the recipe: “1 žloutek = 1 egg yolk. The last 4 things are for the filling, and 240 gr of crumbled biscuits, not flour. They are super lecker!”

If you want to make them in your own plastic beehive form or improvise a different mould: Mix 220 gram fine sugar, 240 gram ground ladyfinger biscuits, 135 gram butter, 3 tbsp (tablespoons) cocoa powder, 4 tbsp rum, 3 tbsp milk, 1 package vanilla sugar or some vanilla extract into a dark “shell” dough. For the filling mix 100 gram butter, 1 tbsp rum, 1 egg yolk and 80 gram fine sugar and fiddle it into the middle of some dark dough. No baking. Just place each beehive on a round (ladyfinger-like) cookie.

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Speaking of traditional regional specialities, Doris Lang contributed her recipes for the delicate half-moon-shaped Vanillekipferl: “This is an iconic, famous, traditional Christmas cookie from Austria. I know, some Germans might say it is German, but if I think of the most iconic Austrian recipe, that would be it.” Vik again though: “The Czechs would claim that Vanillekipferl are their invention. My mum makes them every Christmas. For us they are called Vanilkové Rohličky.” Either way, this German can attest they are equally indispensable in my family and definitely delicious.

11/2 cup (260 g) flour
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup (80 g) powdered sugar
1 cup (100 g) ground almonds
1 cup (200 g) cold butter, cubed
1/3 to 1/2 cup vanilla sugar (sugar mixed with ground vanilla bean)

Put the flour, egg yolk, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and ground almonds in a bowl and mix with a mixer. Feed butter cubes one at a time until it’s incorporated, and the dough comes together. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the table. Dump the dough onto the plastic. Shape the dough into a log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in the plastic wrap, kind of squeeze and form as you go. (Vik says no need for the plastic wrapper thing, you can also just form long rolls and put them on a plate.) Refrigerate for 30 min. Preheat the Oven to 350 °F / 180 °C.
Put the Vanilla Sugar in a small bowl. Take the dough out of the fridge, slice off 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices and roll them between your hands to a mini log shape. Taper the ends and bend the dough to a crescent shape and put it on a cookie sheet. That’s one … 49 to go.
Place them on a baking sheet with about an inch of space in each direction. Bake for 12 minutes until browning around the edges. After baking, roll the cookies in vanilla sugar while they are still warm, then set aside to cool. Store in an airtight container. Eat and get a sugar buzz.

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Speaking of recipes involving almonds, I couldn’t let Siena’s to-die-for Riciarelli go unmentioned:

125 gram almonds, ground, better to slightly roast them in a dry pan
75 g fine sugar
50 g powder sugar
1 pkt vanilla sugar
1 egg white

Cut into the traditional rhombus shape or any way you like and best let them dry for some hours before baking but I am usually not patient enough to do that; bake at 160 °C for 15–20 min. They should be very lightly golden. Don’t let them brown too much otherwise they get too hard and dry.

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Speaking of Italy, Amy Papaelias contributed her grandmother Michelina’s Italian Sesame Cookies:

1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix batter together and chill several hours or overnight. Roll pieces in shape like fingers, then roll in sesame seeds. Cook on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 °F. Can double or triple if you like. Eat with hot tea or coffee.

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Speaking of Americans making cookies, Tiffany Wardle totally blew our collective minds with this West-Coast speciality: “The most American cookies might be Cake Mix Cookies”.

1 box of cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil (I use coconut)
1 tbsp water (I think proximity to water level requires more or less)
Extra: chocolate chips, walnuts, other

Use a small scoop for precision (or not). Bake at 375 °F for 10 minutes.
Note that most online recipes say 1/2 cup of oil. I find them too loose and oily. Also easily turned into a large cookie cake by simply dumping the entire mixture into a pan and flattening it.

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Do you gals and guys have favourite recipes from your region? We’d love to hear about them in the comments. (Take a leaf out of Lisa Schultz’s book, for instance. She has a whole blog dedicated to baking!)
And if any of you are going to make some of these delicacies please send us photos! Happy holidays and a sweet and rich start into 2019 😚

This post has no title and no real point but comments are open

Bless you, native English speaker. Your life is so easy. You don’t have to decide, reason, argue, or fight about many things other languages have to reason, argue, and fight about or for. No diacritics, no accents (unless creätively imported by intellectual pedants), no problems properly composing or displaying your language’s letters and glyphs on paper or screen. No inner struggle whether to duz or siez someone (informally or formally saying “you”, which implies complex conjugation, different grammar and spelling), nor whether you are in the right position or have the right age “to offer someone the Du” (to offer that from now on they can address you informally, usually sealed with a handshake or a kiss) and, oh yeh, how to address students?!

You do not have to heatedly debate on a national level and in national periodicals which version of gender-specific words should be used if they have male and female versions or which artificial compound neologism could be introduced now to solve the eternal debate of Kanzler oder Kanzlerin or KanzlerIn or Kanzler*in or Kanzler_in or Kanzler/-in. Du hast es leicht, you have it light … (WTF online-dictionary!)

This is me whining about German. What is weird in your language that other languages don’t have to worry about?

Remember December: We are being read!

Traveling is one of the best things in life and something I will remember 2017 for (just like my fellow Alphabettes as we have seen in the past December posts so far). Not only do we get to see friends from afar, document funky lettering, foreign scripts, or drink crazy cocktails, we can also exchange PRESENTS!

Let me show you both the best book and most touching gift I got this year:

Elephant, Piggie, Indra and Sahar (plus Marina and a bit of Matthew Carter in the background)

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First/early female typeface designers

Every other month the question about who was the first female typeface designer comes up. From my armchair research, for up to the 1950s, so far we know of

  • Hildegard Henning, Belladonna, Julius Klinkhardt, 1912
  • Elizabeth Colwell, Colwell Handletter, ATF, 1916
  • Maria Ballé, Ballé Initials, Bauersche Gießerei, date unknown, 1920s?
  • Elizabeth Friedländer*, Elizabeth, Bauer, ±1937
  • Ilse Schüle, Rhapsodie, Ludwig & Mayer, 1951
  • Gudrun Zapf von Hesse, Diotima, Stempel AG, 1952–54 (Ariadne ’53, Smaragd ’54 …)
  • Anna Maria Schildbach, Montan, Stempel AG, 1954
  • (That is women credited with a typeface’s design. Many have worked in drawing offices and type production but remained unknown. And post-metal type design is another blog post.)

    I have been talking a lot about this with Dan Reynolds, who is researching 19th century type making in Germany for his Phd (this is such a brief generalization of his topic that he will probably kill me). After the war, West German type foundries published a couple of typefaces designed by women, but of pre-war typefaces Dan could so far not find more than the two mentioned above — Belladonna and the Elizabeth types. (It’s debatable whether the Ballé initials count since they were “not actually cast as foundry type, but rather electrotypes mounted on metal”, as some sources state.) While the idea that Anna Simons might have designed some of the Bremer Presse types is intriguing, it seems that this was just a 1980s American speculation, not actually a fact.

    Last weekend, Dan visited the printing museum im Leipzig and writes:
    “I finally made it to the exhibition from Jerusalem, which exhibited work from Moshe Spitzer, Franziska Baruch, and Henri Friedlaender. That exhibition included Stam, a Hebrew typeface designed by Franziska Baruch for Berthold in the 1920s. Baruch left Germany for Palestine and died in Israel in 1989. She had a career as a designer in Germany in the 1920s and ’30s, and then in Palestine and Israel after that. Much of her graphic design for the State of Israel and for her Israeli clients was significant; however, she never wrote about her work.

    While it was not mentioned in the exhibition, I suspect that Baruch was commissioned to design Stam by Oscar Jolles, who was Berthold’s director in the 1920s. Jolles was a prominent figure in the Berlin Jewish community, and Berthold’s publication of Hebrew type specimen took place during his tenure. Jolles died in 1929, but like Baruch’s mother and sister, his wife and daughter were all murdered in 1943, albeit in different death camps.”

    I believe Liron worked on this exhibition and its original catalog? Does any of you type history or Hebrew researchers have more info on Franziska Baruch and her typeface Stam? I had never heard of her. Glad we can add another name to our Olden Type list.

    * There is a documentary about Elizabeth Friedlander that just came out and will be shown in London on October 20. If you are in the area, this is worth watching.
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    Cold type vs. hot typesetters

    I learned about the term ‘cold type’ quite late into my fascination with phototypesetting. And when I did it was straight from its biggest critic, Frank Romano, author of a book with the title

    The term had been popular in English (only) in the 1960s and ’70s amid the changes from the then prevailing mechanical ‘hot’ metal typesetting, like Linotype or Monotype, that involved live typecasting, to ‘cold’ photographic systems and computer-based typesetting. But my qualms are more about what cold refers to in relation to hot here.

    In the common sense it means typesetting without the casting of metal. Now that all composition and design is done with cool digital tools, we hardly ever have to differentiate between this anymore. What I would love to make clearer though and distinguish between is the difference between foundry type and hot metal typesetting. Especially non-native English speakers tend to throw all metal type into the hot metal melting pot, but nein:
    Foundry type is traditional metal type of individual sorts (letters) for hand composition, once cast by a type foundry but usually used cold, then taken apart again and reused.
    Hot metal type refers to typesetting machines that involve a casting unit that compose and cast individual sorts or a line of type on the fly, e. g. Linotype, Intertype, Monotype or Ludlow systems; hot to luke warm when handled right after casting and molten down again after use.
    It gets real balmy though now that most metal type used in letterpress print shops these days is actually cold ex-hot-metal Monotype for hand composition.

    So maybe we should not use the thermal terms at all and be more specific in what we mean. Or at least only use hot metal for the mechanical typesetting systems. Or only when we’re referring to genuinely hot typesetters.*
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    Caster Masters

    I recently attended the American Typecasting Fellowship conference in the finger lakes region in upstate New York. If you think this is something that mainly attracts men over 70 you are completely right. Nevertheless, the number of women in attendance who are active in type casting more than doubled this year (~3) compared to 2014.

    I’m very glad I got to know the awesome Jessie Reich for instance. She recently graduated from Wells College’s great book arts program and now works at the Bixler Letterfoundry in Skaneateles, NY, once a week running the Monotype Super Caster as well as her own letterpress and design practice Punky Press Studio.

    Jessie Reich and Richard Kegler, co-organizers of the event.

    Jessie Reich and Richard Kegler, co-organizers of the event

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    Alphabettes News February–June (yeah, sorry)

    July! That means half of 2016 is already over! Gotta catch up with the news (we’ll thank us in a couple of years). So what happened since the last round-up …

    February: We published our Love Letter Series

    Feb 2: Diana Ovezea released her type series Equitan Sans and Slab with ITF

    Feb 16: The exhibition “A+: 100 years of graphic communication by women at Central Saint Martins” opened in London, organized by Ruth Sykes

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    Alphabettes go Typographics

    Next week, the whole (type) world will look and travel to New York City for the incredible Typographics festival. I thought TypoBerlin this year would be impossible to top regarding number of Alphabettes in attendance and in town. But given that no less than ~21 ’bettes are living in NYC*, plus us global trotters who are visiting from abroad, next week’s event will probably be the record breaking meeting of our little club to date.

    The organizers Cara di Edwardo, Alexander Tochilovsky and Roger Black did a really great job at putting together an interesting diverse line up (the first 50/50 female/male speakers event I know of!). Elizabeth, Nina, Marta, Fiona, Victoria, and I are speaking, Tânia is giving a workshop, Sara can be visited on a studio tour, and at the free Type Lab Isabel is doing a demo, and Amy and Bianca are organizing the Alphabettes Variety Show on Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned for details about that. If you are unable to join us at the lab, you may be in luck …

    Check our Twitter and Instagram feeds for live reportage and other nonsense. And if you don’t have a ticket yet and are anywhere close to York Neue, this is your chance to see us in person, so register already. Or for the free Type Lab days. (Oops, I see the two events mentioned above are the only women on the Type Lab program. Girls, get out there!)

    * Here is a map of us all I put together back in March for no reason; not totally up to date but giving a rough overview (pins are not showing actual location! No, Lynne is not actually living on the East River.)