Lebkuchen is a commonly found Christmas treat at Weihnachtsmärkte throughout German-speaking Europe. Here in the US, we know this as gingerbread. However, German Lebkuchen, especially the kind from the area around the city of Nürnberg in northern Bavaria, tends to be softer and a bit different than what Americans might be used to. It’s still a yummy way to share a German Christmas tradition with your family.
Nuernberger Lebkuchen – Homemade German Cookies
Nürnberger Lebkuchen or gingerbread has been around since the 14th century, when Nürnberg was a rich city with good trade associations. Now you can make Nürnberger Lebkuchen in your home without any special German ingredients. These soft, spicy cookies keep for several weeks.
Makes about 32 three-inch cookies.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 1/2 c. softened butter (113 grams)
- 1 c. sugar (200 grams)
- 4 eggs
- 3 c. white flour (360 grams)
- 1 T. Lebkuchen spices (6 grams)(see note)
- 2 T. cocoa powder (12 grams)
- 1 1/2 tsp. double acting baking powder
- 1 c. milk (225 ml)
- 1 3/4 c. ground almonds (150 grams)
- 1/2 c. candied lemon peel, chopped (100 grams)
- 1 T. rum or orange liqueur
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 c. water
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 – 2 T. rum or liqueur
- 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 32 Oblaten (baking wafers) 3 inch size
- 1/2 c. raisins, soaked in rum and chopped
- 1/4 c. shredded coconut
Note about “Lebkuchen spices”. If you do not buy premixed “Lebkuchen Gewürz” from a German store, you may mix your own.
- 2 T. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. ground anise seed
Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per recipe.
- Cream butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy.
- Mix in flour, spices, cocoa powder and baking powder, alternating with milk.
- Fold in nuts and lemon peel. Stir in rum. Stir in raisins and coconut if you are using them.
- If you are not using the “Oblaten” (they look like Catholic communion wafers and are purchased in Germany or at a German deli, etc.) draw 3-inch diameter circles on parchment paper using a cup or biscuit cutter as a template.
- Drop about 3 tablespoons cookie dough into the center of each circle. (If you are using “Oblaten” drop the dough onto the wafer and smooth to the edges.) When tray is full, use the back of the spoon to fill out circle, slightly mounding the dough towards the center.
- Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes. Turn down oven to 350°F if cookies are browning too much.
- Let cool for a few minutes, then remove to a cookie or cake rack to cool.
- While they are still warm, make the glaze.
- Place 1/2 c. sugar and 1/4 c. water in a small saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil and boil for a few minutes. Add vanilla and liqueur or rum. Sift powdered sugar over hot sugar syrup and stir.
- Using a pastry brush, brush warm glaze over warm cookies. Let dry completely.
- Dry glazed cookies for a day (to dry the glaze so it stays a bit crunchy) then store in an airtight container or freeze.
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