Lebkuchen

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Hey Joe,

Happy New Year’s Eve! Here is a Christmas recipe for you! This Lebkuchen recipe is from Mum’s German Christmas Baking book, it’s what I used to make the gingerbread house. If you are not Joe, maybe you don’t know what Lebkuchen is? It’s a German Christmas biscuit. There are lots of different kinds, but the one in this recipe is the best. It’s a cross between a cake and a biscuit that is spiced and sweetened with honey. A bit like soft set gingerbread… but with no ginger. Mmm! You’ll never want to eat anything else at Christmas ever again.

This bit has nothing to do with Lebkuchen. We met Becky and Roly for a walk yesterday about a 30min drive away from home. In the car on the way back we were talking about how good it was to see them, and to see people around this time of year. I said ‘I like hearing about other people’s Christmases’, you ‘what, listen to other people’s Christmas and then say nothing about ours?’, me ‘yeah.’, you ‘classic’. Then we laughed. Me ‘it normalises it a bit’, you ‘mm, yeah it does’. That wasn’t us saying no one ever asks about our Christmas (lol, this would be pretty sad), or that Becky and Roly didn’t ask or want to know (they did!), but it was us acknowledging our quietness about the day, that normally we wouldn’t because we wouldn’t be together with the same friends. It was comforting to hear that our friends’ days had their own drama and comforting that this time I wasn’t the only one being quiet about the day because most of the time our Christmas is a little bit too painful, too predictably strange to talk about. The conversation we had in the car on the way back made me very calm and happy. The music was good and your lemon jelly bean car freshener smelt nice.

This dough needs time to rest over night in the fridge, it needs this time to develop its flavour. This will also help the biscuits keep their shape when baked in the oven because your dough will be a bit cold before hitting the oven. Sorry, I hate it when recipes say that, I know you want your Lebkuchen now, I do too.

This makes A LOT of Lebkuchen. haha. But it’s a really forgiving dough that keeps well once baked. You can also keep the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days before baking. So, if you don’t have the oven space to bake all 40 at once, spread out your baking over a couple days.

Ingredients

For about 40 pieces of Lebkuchen

  • 250g honey
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 400 to 450g plain flour – start with 400g, if you think your dough is too soft to roll out add in the extra 50g
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice – if you don’t have this (I didn’t) replace with ground ginger or any other spice listed above
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tablespoons rum or water

Method

Melt the honey, sugar and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring regularly until the sugar has dissolved into the melted honey and butter. At this point there should be no grainy bits of sugar on the spoon used to stir the mixture.

Pour the melted mixture into a bowl and allow to cool slightly while you measure out the flour and ground almonds.

Add the ground almonds, sifted flour, spices and egg into the melted honey mix and work together with a spoon (or hands) to form a dough. The Dough will not form into a ball, but it will be stiff and quite hard to stir together.

In a cup mix the bicarbonate of soda and rum or water until dissolved. Add this to the dough, and beat mix together until the dough is shiny and and tacky (not really sticky). Don’t worry about the dough being stiff, it’s a mini workout for the ol’ biceps.

Cover the bowl of dough with cling film and leave overnight in the fridge.

The next day heat the oven to 180 and line a couple of baking trays with grease proof paper, or butter. Take the dough out of the fridge for about 15 mins. This will just make it easier to roll out.

Lightly flour your worksurface and rolling pin (or wine bottle) and roll out the dough to about 4mm thick. Cut out your lebkuchen shapes, re rolling the dough until it’s all gone. If your biscuit cutters stick then dip them in flour before cutting.

Bake for 10 mins or until the biscuits are puffed up and the edges look set. They should come out of the oven very soft, this is good! Don’t be tempted to bake them until they are firm, or your lebkuchen will be sad and dry.

Once cool, you can leave them as they are, cover them in lemon icing (mix icing sugar and lemon juice to a runny consistency) or dip them in melted chocolate. The Lebkuchen is your oyster!

Becky and Roly, this post is for you. Happy New Year’s Eve, Love Caitlin xxx

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