The Advent Season without Lebkuchen in Germany is just unthinkable. The soft, moist and spicy sweet cookie with a cake-like texture will dazzle your taste buds with its rich ingredients and flavours. Filled with ground hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts, marzipan, and candied orange and lemon peel, sweetened with honey or sugar, flavoured with a mixture of exotic spices like cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger and mace, Lebkuchen hits the spot atChristmas!
Without the thin wafer on the bottom, Lebkuchen would be a gluten free cookie for Christmas, a season full of sweet and savoury temptations for everyone, but also a hard time for some. People allergic to certain kinds of food must have a strong will power to resist all the goodies around them.
Lebkuchen for example contains dried fruits and nuts, a valid reason for people to avoid it if they can’t eat nuts or suffer from fructose intolerance. I hope your diet allows you to consume everything, as it would be a pity, you couldn’t eat or try these most scrumptious cookies. If baked well with the right temperature and time, they stay moist and keep well for more than four weeks. In most German “Baking” households, Lebkuchen would be the first choice to start the season with.
The original recipe that I got from a friend many years ago includes ground almonds as well as hazelnuts. I omitted the latter ingredient, as the probability of being allergic to it is very high, at least that is what I have been noticing in my circle of friends over the years. I substituted it with more almonds hoping and believing that almonds are the safer option.
This year my Lebkuchen turned out perfect in shape because of a new kitchen utensil called “Lebkuchenglocke”, a cute “gadget”, a bit similar to the falafel-making utensil. You fill the round cavity with the batter like dough to the top, you cover with one circular wafer, you turn the gadget upside down close to your baking sheet, and then turn the upper mechanism as if you are opening a bottle, releasing a perfectly round Lebkuchen. Not only your hands will relatively stay clean, but also your cookies will all have a wonderful round shape with the same weight.
Don’t worry however if you don’t possess this kitchen treasure like me. You can still bake them by spooning out the required portion and carefully spreading it on the wafer to a 1-cm thickness. Wet your fingertips to evenly flatten the surface. You can also do without wafers if not desired or available: Wet your fingertips to make a 5-cm ball that you place on the baking sheet, and then evenly flatten to 1-cm thickness. Your Lebkuchen can have a different size according to the size of the wafer you choose. The only thing you need to keep constant is the thickness of the cookie. I prefer the smaller cookies; especially that Lebkuchen is very rich in calories.
Lebkuchen – German Ginger Bread
- 325 g confectioners’ sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
- 400 g ground almonds
- 200 g candied lemon peel finely chopped in a food processor
- 100 g candied orange peel finely chopped in a food processor
- 200 g marzipan puréed in a food processor
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ⅓ teaspoon cloves
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- Oblaten 50 mm , very thin wafer
- 200 g semi-bitter chocolate for the glaze
- In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar, eggs and lemon zest until smooth and double in size. Gradually add the almonds, candied lemon and orange, marzipan and spices. Continue beating until well mixed into a thick sticky batter, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill over night.
- Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread each wafer with 1 teaspoonful of batter (you will need to even the surface with your wet fingers), and place on the prepared sheet. You need to wash your hands every now and then, as they will get sticky.
- Preheat oven (150°C/300°F). Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top and edges are slightly golden brown. Check if done by slightly pressing on the surface, it shouldn’t get hard!
- Let cool on the sheet and glaze with melted semi-bitter or milk chocolate. Let dry and transfer to an airtight container.