Knerken (Cardamom Biscuits)

Luisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking is still giving me wonderful baking ideas –  today’s recipe is a crispy shortbread-style biscuit (p22). Cardamom is far less prevalent in German baking than Scandinavian, except for the northernmost parts.

I’ve added my own twists and made it GF. The dough should be made in advance and stored in the fridge until ready for baking.

Makes: around 30 biscuits depending on size


  • 90g unsalted butter – can be cold as it will be melted
  • 70g caster sugar, white or golden
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (approx 15 whole green pods, seeds removed and heartily crushed)
  • Scant 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 egg (50-60g when weighed in the shell), beaten
  • 210g gluten-free plain flour
  • Scant 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • Whole milk, for glazing
  • Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)


  • 1 small saucepan (a milkpan will do)
  • A mortar & pestle (if grinding whole cardamom pods)
  • 2 mixing bowls: 1 large & 1 small; and 2 small bowls for egg & milk
  • An electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
  • Clingfilm
  • 2 baking trays
  • Baking/parchment paper to line both trays
  • A sharp knife and chopping board
  • A pastry brush
  • A cooling rack


  1. Melt the butter in a small pot over a medium-low heat, until it turns medium brown and starts to smell ‘nutty’. Don’t let it burn! Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Whisk the melted butter with the sugar, spices, and egg in a large bowl on medium speed until creamy.
  3. Mix the flour and baking powder in a small mixing bowl with a fork. Beat into the butter mixture some at a time at medium speed until fully combined. Scrape down the bowl frequently.
  4. Set out 1 large piece of clingfilm on a worktop. Mold the dough with your hands into a log, about 10″ long (it will be very soft). Make the log shorter for wider-diameter biscuits; longer for smaller ones.
  5. Roll the log tightly in the clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or overnight; anywhere up to 24 hours). After 30 minutes, roll the wrapped log on the fridge shelf so it stays round, and doesn’t flatten on the bottom.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted) and line both baking trays with paper.
  7. Remove the dough log from the fridge, unwrap, and cut into 24 slices 1/4 – 1/3″ thick. Place the rounds on the lined baking trays 3x4; re-wrap any remaining dough and put back into fridge. Lightly brush each slice with milk.
  8. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until golden brown, turning the trays halfway through for even baking. Remove biscuits to a cooling rack. Let the trays cool 10 minutes before loading with remaining sliced dough, and baking.
  9. Once fully cooled, dust with icing sugar if you like. These will keep in an airtight container on the counter for up to 2 weeks.

Knerken Variation
I recently made these again, substituting finely grated orange zest, dried and crushed, for the cardamom. I rolled the dough into a very thin sausage (1″ diameter). After 12 minutes baking time, I sandwiched the baked mini-discs together with chocolate ganache made with some orange juice. (I also made some slightly larger discs dusted with icing sugar for those who don’t like chocolate.)

Alternate Suggestions
For more traditional shortbread biscuits, try my GF Sablé Biscuits recipe where I have oodles of suggestions for flavour combinations and colours.

If you like nuts in traditional shortbread, try my GF Walnut & Cardamom Shortbread biscuits.

If you want chocolate shortbread cookies, try this other GF recipe of mine.


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