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Dec 8, 2014

A Homestead Christmas: Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread)

With the coming of winter things have slowed down considerably on our front. We are comfortably preparing for the Yule-tide celebrations and looking forward to the homey, peaceful months ahead.

As the second installment of some of my favorite childhood Christmas traditions I'd like to share another cookie recipe with you all. This one is a traditional German cake-like cookie similar to gingerbread, however, the taste is quite different. Lebkuchen (most closely pronounced "layb-coo-ken") has been a traditional staple in Germanic Europe since the late 1200s when specialty bakers and monks have been recorded as creating these honey-based cakes. Each town, and even family, has a special recipe that is passed down through the generations which varies as to the spices incorporated (Lebkuchen can range from spicey to sweet) and the favorite form of decoration. Some are quite large and hard so that they can be decorated with icing saying and hung from ribbons for various festive occasions. The following recipe is a moist cake-like cookie with a pleasingly spicy flavor and can be decorated in a number of ways: lemon glaze frosting, chocolate coating or simply plain with almonds and candied fruit. Whatever your preference these make a lovely addition to any cookie tray during the holidays.


source: Cafe Schubert


Yield: 18 cookies

What you'll need:

For the cookies:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 molasses

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

Optional:

  • Sliced Almonds or other nuts, candied fruit

Directions:

  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Set aside.
  2. Beat the egg and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
  3. Beat in the honey and molasses until thoroughly combined.
  4. On low speed, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough, adding more flour as needed until a stiff dough is formed.
  6. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm (about 2 hours or overnight).
  7. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper
  8. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into 9x12-inch rectangles. Cut the dough into 18 3x2-inch rectangles (or with any cookie cutter shape you desire). Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Whisk together the confectioner's sugar, water and lemon juice for the glaze. Brush or spread on top of the cookies.
  10. Allow the glaze to firm before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.

Steader's Note: These cookies taste better after a couple of days "rest" since the flavors develop over time.  Also, place the sliced almonds or other nuts and fruit on top of the cookies before baking. You can glaze over them if you choose after baking or leave them plain.  If the recipe is varied to make a drier cookie and a hole is made before baking, these can be iced/decorated and hung from the tree as ornaments.

I hope you enjoy these and let me know how they turn out for you should you decide to give them a try.





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4 comments:

  1. I just love that you have kept some history in your life. That will be a fun heritage to pass on to the next generation as it looks like someone did a great job of that with you! Thank you for sharing your recipe on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

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  2. Oh wow, your lebkuchen cookies are really gorgeous. We saw a lot of these in Germany around the holidays, but it's been so long I can't remember if we tried them or not. I mostly remember being shocked at how the cakes and tortes there were not nearly as sweet as ours. I've learned to appreciate that since though. ;) have a great week!

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    Replies
    1. The difference between European and US desert sweetening is pretty marked isn't it? Thanks for stopping by and commenting Magnolia. Have a good week.

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