Pistachio-Anise Wafers

I’ve been making the same Christmas cookies for more than 20 years, and I figured it was time to add a little something new.

These are a different kind of cookie, actually sort of a cross between a cookie and a cracker. I like them because:

  • their only sugar is what’s sprinkled on top, adding color and shine
  • they’re leavened (a little) by yeast, and wild yeast at that
  • they have no butter, only olive oil

(To any members of my household who may be reading this: Don’t worry, we’ll still have Candy Cane Cookies, Peanut Butter Bonbons, and a few of the other old favorites.)

Pistachio-Anise Wafers

Yield: 530 g (16 – 24 wafers)


  • Ferment sponge: 12 hours
  • Mix final dough: 5 minutes
  • Divide and shape: 5 – 10 minutes
  • Proof: 25 minutes
  • Bake: 18 minutes per batch

Sponge Ingredients:

  • 136 g flour
  • 86 g water
  • 30 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • all of the sponge
  • 3 g (1 t.) salt
  • 8.5 g (4 t.) whole anise seeds, toasted
  • 120 g olive oil
  • 1/2 t. lemon zest
  • 25 g shelled roasted pistachios (about 50 nuts), very finely chopped (grind in a minichopper if you have one)
  • 65 g flour
  • 70 g white whole wheat flour

Topping Ingredients:

  • 20 g shelled roasted pistachios (about 40 nuts), coarsely chopped
  • granulated sugar


  1. In a bowl, mix the sponge ingredients until just combined. Cover and ferment for about 12 hours.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sponge, finely chopped pistachios, anise seed, salt, lemon zest, and olive oil. Pulse several times to distribute the oil through the sponge (it will not really be incorporated into the dough at this point.)
  3. Add the flours and pulse just until the flour and oil are incorporated. Don’t overmix! Remove the dough to an unfloured counter and gather it into a ball. Don’t worry if you see a few small streaks of white dough where the oil did not reach.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F with the rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. There are a couple of ways to shape the wafers:
    A) You can divide the dough into balls and roll them into circles (about 30 g of dough makes a 4 or 5-inch circle). Better yet, use a tortilla press or Indian flatbread press if you have one:

    B) Alternatively, you can divide the dough into two pieces and (on an unfloured counter) roll each into a rectangle about 10 – 11 by 12 – 14 inches. Transfer the rolled-out dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet before using a pizza or pastry wheel to cut it into diamonds.

  6. Press the coarsely-chopped pistachios firmly into the wafers. Let them rest, uncovered, for about 25 minutes.
  7. Bake each sheet at 375F for about 18 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. After both sheets have finished baking, move the oven rack up so it is about 6 inches below the broiler element, and heat the broiler.
  9. Sprinkle the wafers with granulated sugar and broil for about 30 – 40 seconds, just until the sugar is melted and browned. Watch closely; the sugar will burn in the blink of an eye.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    I am overwhelm, I have 2 things in my mind that I promised myself to make this week (both are from your recipes) Now I see this post, and I can’t resist. Will I be able to keep my own promise? I must!
    Starting now, off to kitchen and start making my Norwhich sourdough. Wish me luck!

  2. Kristen says

    Oh man. Can I come to your house for Christmas? Meanwhile, these are perfect–I have a bag of pistachios that need to be used. Thanks!

  3. says

    Apart from the fact that your cookies/ crackers look delicious, I really like that they are low on sugar and contain no butter.
    Great way to use pistachios.:)

  4. says

    Pretty and looks delicious. Another to add to my list. Sometimes I wish I can churn them out faster than adding them!!
    Hope to see your other family xmas favs – Candy Cane Cookies, Peanut Butter Bonbons, etc!!

  5. Margie says

    My sleigh is westbound in the morning, but upon its return these are ON MY LIST! (I baked my newest, favorite-ist biscotti last night…..a whole T. of anise seed and 1/2 tsp. anise oil. Need I say more? lol).

    I have no doubt these will be wonderful; everything I make from your recipe file is a winner. :)

  6. Rhonda says

    Thank you for this recipe. I made these last night – they were very easy and delicious! Unfortunately, my broiler is funky and I had uneven browning/melting. I think next time I’ll sprinkle some Hain’s brand organic sugar (big sugar crystals) on the wafers before I do the first bake…. This sugar works great for pies and galettes. I can’t wait to try them next with goat cheese!

  7. Jennifer says

    I made these today, and they did not turn out that well. They had a bitter after taste and my dough was very wet? What do you think I did wrong? I am loosing hope, all the things I try to make with my wild yeast doesn’t turn out so good. Thoughts?


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