Lebkuchen: A German festive treat

By Corrie Heale

Okay it’s time to give in. The first of December is rapidly approaching, accompanied by Christmas adverts and festive Instagram posts.

Soon, highstreets will be twinkling with jolly festive lights and Christmas trees will go on sale in Sainsbury’s – there’s no escape. So, we may as well get into the swing of things with a spot of festive baking, and what better way to get the Christmas juices flowing, than a batch of Lebkuchen. These traditional German Christmas biscuits are cakey in texture, gently spiced and make a great introduction to the festivities.

Lebkuchen

Makes 18-20 biscuits / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 30 mins + cooling and icing /V 250g plain flour 80g ground almonds 2 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp cinnamon ½ tsp all spice 2 tsp cocoa powder Pinch of ground cloves ½ tsp bicarbonate soda 1 tsp baking powder Zest of 1 lemon 150ml runny honey 50g dark brown muscovado sugar 80g unsalted butter 110g icing sugar

Method

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients together using a fork. Zest the lemon and add two thirds to the mixture, put the other third to one side to decorate with later.

2. In a small saucepan on a medium heat, melt the 150ml of honey, 80g of unsalted butter and 50g of dark brown muscovado sugar. Once melted take off the heat and pour straight into the dry mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until you have a wet dough and then leave to cool for 10 minutes covered with a tea towel. Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.

3. The dough will still be warm but easy to work with now. Using your hands pick up around 35g of dough (about the size of a walnut) roll into a ball and divide between 2 lined baking trays, spacing out evenly to allow room for the biscuits to expand. Using the back of table spoon, flatten each ball slightly into a disk shape.

4. Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins. Once expanded and golden in colour, remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes before twisting each biscuit carefully with your fingers to loosen it and then transferring to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.

5. To ice, mix 160g of icing sugar with 10-12 tsp of water until you have a watery paste. Place a sheet of cling film under your wire rack before drizzling. Spoon over 1 tsp of icing over each biscuit and using the back of the spoon, push the icing to the edges using a circular motion (don’t worry if these drip, that’s the idea). Sprinkle over the last of the lemon zest and leave to set before serving.

Corrie Heale

Freelance food writer / vegetarian food blogger and recipe writer. corriesrabbitfood.com @corrieheale

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