Ampelmann Biscuits

Every town in former East Germany seems to be able to support an Ostladen (East shop). These shops specialise in all manner of East German paraphernalia, ranging from souvenir toy Trabant cars for tourists, to nostalgia stationary and cleaning products for locals. The cookie cutters in the iconic Ampelmann shapes were the thing I couldn’t resist.

The Ampelmänner are the two little men at the traffic lights that tell pedestrians whether to Steh! or Geh! Apparently after the German reunification there was a move to replace the Ampelmann with the Western man, but the locals protested that they didn’t want to lose their cute signals and the lights live on. Berlin has a mix of both types of men, but unfortunately they aren’t organised strictly along the old border, and you can’t tell where the Berlin wall was using them.

This recipe for Ampelmann biscuits is flavoured with tahini and cinnamon. Using the healthy fats in tahini and olive oil means that it is helpful to chill your dough briefly before you roll it out. It also gives the bickies a very crispy texture when they’re done.

Of course your Ampelmänner will look more attractive if you ice them, and I was very impressed with the intensity of colour you can get by using powdered sugar colours rather than a liquid. An un-iced Ampelmann isn’t as good to look at, but he’s still crunchy and cinnamony.

Recipe for Ampel Man Biscuits
Ingredients
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1 cup gluten free plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
Combine the dry ingredients.
Add tahini, oil, and lightly beaten egg.
Mix to a dough. If the mixture will not come together as a ball, then add a tablespoon or two of water until it does.
Cool the dough in the fridge for about half an hour, then roll out (not too thin, more than half a centimetre, but less than one cm).
Cut into shapes and place on a tray lined with baking powder.
Bake for ~6 minutes or until slightly brown at the edges.
Once cooled, the biscuits can be iced with a glaze made from icing sugar, colouring and water if desired.

9 thoughts on “Ampelmann Biscuits

  1. What a gorgeous story. I love that locals fought to keep their traffic light men! Have never seen tahini used in biscuits before but given it’s sesame seeds it makes perfect sense. I loved Berlin when I was there – such an amazing sense of energy about the place.

  2. That’s fantastic! The red and green colouring is fairly obligatory isn’t it? I mean, any other colour would just be wrong, and they probably wouldn’t taste as good in protest! :D

  3. I didn’t know they had different men on the traffic lights there. What I want to know is why are they wearing hats?

  4. what a great post! it reminded me of the fantastic time i had in berlin; i was there just when the wall and fallen, young people were selling bits of the wall (i still have the bit i bought); the differences between the two different parts were more pronounced at the time

    fabulous little men! in greece we have stamati (stop) and grigori (go), which we still tell our children about

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