Mad about Lebkuchen

              Homemade Lebkuchen

The first time I ever had Lebkuchen (German gingerbread) was back in 1997. Harald was visiting me in Berkeley and had brought homemade ones all the way from Germany. At that time, I had no idea what these round, fragrant, nutty and soft cookie-like snacks were, but they were the most delicious things I’d tasted in a long time. Sadly, they were impossible to find outside of Germany.

              Lebkuchen Ingredients

Lebkuchen is most commonly available in Germany around Christmas. These wonderfully aromatic spice cookies, whose main ingredients are spices, flour, ground almonds/hazelnuts/walnuts, eggs, candied orange and lime peel, can be found in supermarkets in the couple of months leading up to Christmas with the most common brands being Bahlsen and Wicklein.

Lebkuchen Schmidt

Our favourite Lebkuchen manufacturer is Lebkuchen-Schmidt. Their Lebkuchen products are so popular (in Bavaria, anyways) that they can afford to have seasonal shops that are closed all year round except for 3 months in winter. Fortunately for us (since we aren’t always here around Christmas), they also have shops that are open all-year round. Whenever we visit Germany, we’d make a trip to one of their shops in Nürnberg and end up carrying at least a kilogram of Lebkuchen home.

Homemade Lebkuchen

The homemade Lebkuchen featured here, which I made together with A, are just as wonderful as the store-bought ones, if not better. I’ll definitely be making space in my luggage for these “(home)made-in-Germany” cookies, along with all sorts of confectioneries and baking ingredients that I’d be hard-pressed to find back home!

[Edited Mar 21, 2008 to include translated recipe]

Classic Lebkuchen (Adapted and translated from Lekuchen Rezepte)

Yield: ~ 30 Lebkuchen
Ingredients
200g sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar (~10g)
1 tsp cinnamon
One pinch each of ground cloves, allspice and cardamon
200g almonds (ground)
50g candied orange peel (chopped)
75g candied lemon peel (chopped)
Zest from ½ lemon
250g flour
4 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
30 round wafer sheets (~ 7cm)
Sugar glaze (see recipe below)
Whole blanched almonds for decoration (optional)

Method
1. Mix the flour and baking powder together.
2. Place the eggs with the sugar and vanilla sugar in a bowl and beat until foamy.
3. Add in the flour mixure, spices, almonds, lemon zest, candied orange and lemon peel. Mix to form a dough.
4. Preheat the oven to 175 – 200 degrees C. (I use 180 degrees C for lebkuchen)
5. Spread the dough on each wafer sheet and bake until golden brown on an ungreased baking sheet for 15 to 20 mins.
6. Allow the lebkuchen to cool and glaze with the sugar glaze. Decorate with the whole blanched almonds as desired.

Sugar Glaze
Ingredients
200g confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice (alternatively, use 2 tbsp rum)
2 tbsp hot water

Method
1. Mix well for 5 – 10 mins. The glaze should be fluid with a thick consistency.

21 Responses to “Mad about Lebkuchen”

  1. Pomegranate Says:

    My dad’s friend brought us a big box of Lebkuchen-Schmidt goodies. I hate a whole packet of some great biscuits (which I devoured all by myself), but I wasn’t too fond of the Lebkuchens themselves.

  2. Stef Says:

    oh my Karen…I’ve only ever tried it once a few years ago at a party and it was a horrid version—mealy and tough.

    You’ve revived my opinions of them and I would love to try them again someday…. =)

  3. khano Says:

    I had them once and they were amazing..the taste wasn’t overpowering yes! You can never find any good ones outside germany! lol..

    i love your blog!! you should teach hands on classes you know.. anyhow, do you know where i can get dried egg whites?

  4. Patricia Scarpin Says:

    Karen, here I go again, begging your for a recipe… (I did it when you posted those beautiful gingerbread men before Xmas…).
    I have never tried Lebkuchen and I don’t think I can find good ones here in Brazil - would you mind sharing the recipe?

  5. Karen Says:

    Pomegranate: I think the biscuits you had were Spekulatius. I love them too!

    Stef: I’ll be bringing some home. If you’re quick, you can come try some before they are all devoured. :)

    khano: Thanks! In Singapore, you can get dried egg whites at some Cold Storage outlets. The one at Jelita usually has stock. Do note that dried egg whites are quite pricey.

    Patricia: There are many recipes available on the web. You can try this one: http://www.lebkuchen-rezepte.de/lebkuchen/lebkuchen-klassisch.html. Let me know if you need a translation. :)

  6. cheryl Says:

    Those are so interesting looking. It looks like a cookie crossed with a donut.

  7. Stef Says:

    it’s a date,Karen!
    =)

  8. Wendy Says:

    Karen, can I have a translation for the recipe? Also, are the ingredients available in Singapore? Your cookies look so tempting!

  9. Lynn Says:

    mmm, never tried them before but from your description they sound really yummy. Will you be selling them? I’m too lazy to bake them myself =o((

  10. Eva Says:

    Wow, they definitely look like the real thing! Alas, this Christmas I didn’t get any - again…. Next year, I swear, I’ll have to make them myself!

  11. Aunt HN Says:

    Hi Karen, just saw your latest lebkuchen. Are you bringing some back for me? Look forward to having them for Christmas.

  12. Aunt HN Says:

    Sorry, it’s … look foward to having them for Chinese New Year.

  13. Karen Says:

    Cheryl: Hmm, now that you’ve mentioned it, they do look a little like filled glazed donuts, but I assure you they don’t taste anything like donuts. :)

    Stef: Will do. See you when I get back.

    Wendy: I’ll try to post the translation later when I get back home. The only thing that will be hard to find in Singapore is the white wafer base (Back-Oblaten). But those can be left out.

    Lynn: I might consider selling these, if there is a demand. You should try baking them yourself; they don’t take long to make!

    Eva: Thank you so much! Coming from a native German, that’s a real compliment. Yes, do make them next Christmas. But then again, why wait until Christmas? :)

    Auntie HN: Yes, I’ll try to bring some back for you too.

  14. Denise Says:

    I have been looking for a good lebkuchen recipe for years. Could I possibly have a translation?

  15. Karen Says:

    Denise (& Wendy): I’ve posted the translated recipe. Happy baking!

  16. Laura N. Says:

    Hi Karen!
    The Lebkuchen look so scrumptious. I absolutely love Lebkuchen! i’m planning on trying them out soon, i just wanted to ask if its absolutely necessary to use the back-oblaten? (I’m in Finland right now and i’m not sure if i can find them here.)
    Thanks!

  17. Karen Says:

    Hello Laura,

    It’s fine to skip the oblaten, but you should place baking paper/baking parchment on the baking sheet. You can draw circles on the baking paper to serve as a guide.

  18. Laura N. Says:

    Thanks! I’ll definitely do that. I can’t wait to try these out. My next weekend will only be used for baking lebkuchens.

  19. Esther Says:

    Hi,

    Is there no butter in the recipe? And does it matter if we don’t bake them wafers as they aren’t possible to find here..
    Thanks!

  20. Becca J. Says:

    Hi!

    I’ve never made lebkuchen and I want to make proper as-if-I-sailed-to-Germany-and-bought-them-there lebkuchen and so I’m wondering how you made the dark glaze.

    My family has a tradition of cooking food from countries our ancient relatives hailed from for the holidays. We have made traditional Mexican food for a few years but I think a change is in order, so THANK YOU for this recipe (they look utterly delicious!).

  21. Karen Says:

    Becca: The dark glaze is just melted dark chocolate. :)

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