The scents of Christmas are what really warm my soul during the holiday season; the fresh cut trees, the aroma of spiced wine marinating on stove tops and the smell of freshly baked gingerbread. With my sister finally back living in the states, I am excited to collaborate with her on some holiday cheer. Bringing some of her Austrian love with her, our home is covered in baked goodness, handmade candies and jar upon jar of canned jams. With the arrival of Christmas eve just days away, follow our 'A Tabletop Christmas' Series filled with all our holiday favorites, from the kitchen to the table.
LEBKUCHEN - GERMAN GINGERBREAD RECIPE
3/4 cup softened, but not warm, unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar (cane sugar adds extra flavor)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup honey
2 medium eggs, beaten
3 to 4 cups flour (2/3 wheat 1/3 rye)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Instead of the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves the same quantity of a spice mix such as Pumpkin or Gingerbread, or an easily made traditional German Speculaas or Gingerbread spice mixes, can be used.) They keep well in a cool store cupboard.
Place butter and sugar into a large bowl and cream the mixture until it becomes light and fluffy.
Add spices and zests, beating until they are incorporated.
Heat molasses and honey until boiling and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Add molasses mixture to butter stirring constantly, then beat in the eggs and combine thoroughly.
Sift 3 cups flour, soda and salt together and stir into mixture.
Stirring, add as much of the remaining flour as needed to get a soft but not sticky dough.
Shape into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.
Chill at least 4-5 Hrs or better overnight so the flavors can develop, as well as making it easier to handle. Can be left for three days.
Roll out the dough about 1/3-inch thick.
Using cutters or freehand, cut the dough into whatever shapes you have in mind.
If they are to be Christmas tree decorations or Oktoberfest hearts don’t forget to make holes for the ribbon or twine.
Brush with the lightly beaten white of an egg.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes well spaced out on a greased sheet or baking paper, they will spread, and take care not to allow the edges to brown.
Lebkuchen are a sheet cookie which are often served just as they are without any decoration, but they are also decorated with frosting, melted chocolate or slivered almonds.
1 cup sifted confectioner’s powdered sugar
1 tbsp water
In a small bowl stir together powdered sugar and water until smooth.
Brush onto still warm cookies.
Store in air tight container.
Lebkuchen Einfach Geniessen!