"Springerle recipe from Germany. The best! This recipe has been used in my family for at least 6 generations. The results more than make up for the long, labor-intensive prep and proofing process. There are hundreds of these in our kitchens and dining rooms around the holidays! The anise gives a very distinctive licorice-like flavor. If someone tastes one for the first time and doesn't like it, I take the rest of the cookie and eat it so it doesn't go to waste. I actually don't bake long enough for the cookies to turn brown."
Beat confectioners' sugar and eggs together in a large bowl until thick.
Place anise seed in a bowl. Pour water over anise seed into bowl and let mixture sit to steep, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat anise mixture and lemon zest into egg mixture.
Sift flour and measure again. Sift flour once more together with baking powder. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat until dough forms. Divide dough into flat rounds, wrap each in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll dough out on a flat surface lightly dusted with confectioners' sugar to 1/4-inch thickness. Roll dough with a springerle roller to shape cookies. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Cover cut cookies with a towel and let dry for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Transfer to baking sheets.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake in batches in the preheated oven until edges are lightly golden, 12 to 15 minutes.