- Dish type
- Biscuits and cookies
I have always loved lebkuchen biscuits at Christmas, so this year I have had a crack at making them myself. And cloves are such a tricky spice that can completely overpower many spice blends, but seem to conjure up the right flavour for this festive period.
Yorkshire, England, UK
52 people made this
IngredientsMakes: 25 lebkuchen
- 250g plain flour
- 85g ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 175ml clear honey
- 85g butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 lemon, finely zested and juiced
- 1/2 orange, finely zested
- 100g icing sugar
- 1 egg white, beaten
MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:13min ›Extra time:2hr proofing › Ready in:2hr28min
- Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl, then thoroughly mix.
- Warm the honey and butter in a pan over a low heat until the butter melts, then pour into the flour mixture. Add the lemon juice and lemon and orange zest. Mix well with a hand held whisk until the dough is thoroughly combined.
- Cover and leave to cool overnight, or for at least 2 hours. to let the flavours meld together and work that festive magic.
- Heat oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
- Roll the lebkuchen dough in your hands into around 25 balls, each 3cm wide, then flatten each one slightly into a disc.
- Divide the lebkuchen mixture between 3 baking trays lined with baking parchment, or ideally with an edible baking paper, with a decent amount of room for them to expand.
- Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until when touched lightly no imprint remains, then cool on a wire rack. While still warm, glaze the lebkuchen with the icing glaze, made as below.
- While the cookies are baking, make your glazing icing: mix together the icing sugar and egg white to form a smooth, runny icing.
- Brush the top of each biscuit with the glazing icing. Leave to dry.
You should ideally allow these Christmas cookies to mellow. To do this, you should store the lebkuchen in an airtight container for a day or two to allow the flavours to mellow and the cookies to become softer.
You can add an extra sugar glaze to give the tops even more lustre - 100g caster sugar plus 50ml water melted and boiled to 90 degrees C; mix in 1 tablespoon of icing sugar; brush over iced lebkuchen.
See it on my blog
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(7)
Reviews in English (6)
My new favourite biscuits! Baked them with the intention of giving some away but they didnt leave the house. Changed the recipe a bit; used ginger instead of cloves, used golden syrup instead of honey. Yum!-27 Nov 2013
great recipe! I tried o store them for a few days, only to find my husband had eaten most of them! I gave then 2 coats of the icing.-20 Dec 2012
Yum, yum, yum. Absolutely delicious; just like the cookies I remember from my childhood in Germany.-09 Oct 2012
Lebkuchen-German Christmas Cookies
Lebkuchen cookies are wunderbar! Warm gingerbread spices meet soft cakey dough and delicate frosting. A German gem that’ll make your holiday party special!
No Christmas cookies spread is complete without my Lebkuchen recipe! These German cookies are a marriage of gingerbread and cake, with a creamy glaze over a beautiful almond design. If you like Biscoff cookies — or, if you like cookies in general — these are a must-try!
Also commonly called German spice cookies, these cookies are tender, moist, full of warm Christmasy spices, and tender little bits of crystallized fruit. Oh, then they’re topped with a wonderful glaze! These babies are truly special, indeed! They’re one of my fams favorite cookies!
It goes without saying, of course, that they’re a must-have holiday treats with Christmas crack and spritz cookies.
Let’s bake some epic(as my 7-year-old niece would say) cookies!
These German Christmas Cookies Take Two Months to Make
I&aposm in a mixed marriage, by which I mean I am Jewish, but my husband is not. My husband could care less about holiday dຜor, but I, like many of my people, grew up bereft of fun and festive decorations around this time of year, so having a legit excuse to put something up in the house feels like a huge win. Our tree is small, only 4-feet tall, and made of reclaimed wine barrel staves. It sets up, with two little strings of fairy lights and about a dozen ornaments, and a Star of David topper in fifteen minutes or less and breaks down for storage even faster.
But when it comes to baking? I am all-in on holiday cookies. Don’t get me wrong, I am also all-in on latkes, because fried potatoes, and sufgaiyot, because fried donuts, but generally my holiday culinary adventures are all about the cookies. And then this past fall, I picked up a copy of Luisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking Cookbook. German cooking and baking is not really in my wheelhouse, generally. But I have been a fan of Luisa’s blog for a long time and knew how much work and research went into the book, so I was excited to see what treasures lay within its pages. I was shocked at how many of the recipes really spoke to me, and how many little markers I was putting in them for future experiments, and then I came across the recipe that I could not stop thinking about: Lebkuchen.
A fairly simple honey gingerbread cookie, deeply spiced, and leavened with an ancient ingredient…potash or potassium chloride. From before the days of baking powder and baking soda and other leaveners, this was a seriously old-school recipe. And the thing that really clinched it? The dough rests for two months before you bake the cookies. Once baked, apparently, they last for months more, which is great when you are anticipating wanting a nice full cookie jar to get you through the season, or if you want to make cookies to ship to people who are far away.
On October 11, I made the dough, put it in a bowl with a plate on top and stashed it in my cellar. Two months later, to the day, I rolled out the thick, slightly tacky dough, cut it into shapes, decorated some with traditional blanched almonds and some with candied lemon peel, and left some plain. Then I baked them, glazed them, and dipped some in chocolate. Some notes that I had with these: The recipe calls for placing the cookies close together on the baking sheets, I placed mine about a half an inch apart, as I would have done with a stiff cookie that does not spread. These did spread, so they all fused into each other. I was easily able to slice between the cookies after baking but while still hot with a sharp knife point, so my edges weren’t pretty, but it didn’t affect the taste or other aspects. If you want all of your cookies to have clean edges I would place them at least an inch or more apart, and use three cookie sheets instead of the two called for.
When first baked, they are super light and crisp, with a really interesting honeycomb sort of texture inside. As they sit, they soften slightly and get a pleasant chew. Are they the best cookie I have ever eaten? Nope. But will I make them again? You bet. Because there is something really lovely about taking some time in October to think about the festive season that is coming. To have that knowledge that in a cool corner of your home there are future cookies that are just waiting to be baked. That soon there will be twinkly lights and Hanukah candles and cards from friends on the front hall table, and our little quirky wooden tree, and so many cookies. No matter how you were raised, or what your holiday looks like to you, if the only way you even acknowledge the season is to make some cookies, that seems like a sweet way to face the dark days of winter and have a little hope for the New Year.
Be the first to review this recipe
You can rate this recipe by giving it a score of one, two, three, or four forks, which will be averaged out with other cooks' ratings. If you like, you can also share your specific comments, positive or negative - as well as any tips or substitutions - in the written review space.
© 2021 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast.
Decorate the Cookies
Use tinted royal icing to decorate the cookies. You only need about half of the recipe, but you will want to practice decorating with your baked scraps, and you might want to use several colors, so make the whole batch.
Tint some of the icing in a separate bowl using normal food coloring. if the icing is not completely tinted you can create swirls of lighter and darker colors as you pipe it.
Place the icing in a decorator bag with a leaf tip attached to make the border. Use a writing tip for the words. Find out more about filling and using pastry bags here.
Decorate as you like. It is traditional to write cute sayings in the center and give the cookies to people you like.
- These cookies will last for months in a tin or well-wrapped and stored at room temperature.
- While they can be eaten, they are usually made for decorative purposes.
Braune lebkuchen (brown gingerbread) is baked with honey, and the dough is usually shaped into a mold.
Once baked, they are usually coated in a glaze mixture or dipped in chocolate.
Weisse lebkuchen (white gingerbread) use a large amount of egg whites in the dough giving them a lighter appearance once cooked. They are commonly decorated with almonds and orange or lemon peels.
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 3/4 cup flour, additional for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup candied citron, diced
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water or milk
- 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- Almonds, slivered
- Candied citron
- Melted chocolate
- Baking sheets
- Brown sugar
- All purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Lemon juice
- Powdered sugar
- Parchment paper
- important while cooling completely so they don&rsquot stick
It does take a bit more patience than traditional cookies just because the honey is a bit challenging to really mix it in properly, and this time I even got in there with my hands and needed it together to get it to all mix through.
Spice cookie sugar glaze:
Make the glaze for your lebkuchen recipe. Do so while your first batch is in the oven so you can spoon some over each one when they come out and are still warm.
- I boil the sugar, confectioner sugar, and water in a small pan until it boils and then turn it off.
- Use a tablespoon to spoon over cooked cookies
- Make sure to put them on parchment paper or no stick foil before spooning glaze over because they WILL stick!!
If you love this Lebkuchen German cookie recipe you will love our other recipes like Christmas tree sugar cookies on The Typical Mom too!
I also make 2 batches and freeze half of them because I make them only once a year and it is nice to bring a few out later to enjoy too (family members always ask for a few too).
- Preheat the oven to 400. Make sure you spray the pan before putting the cookies on, dough is sticky!
The dough will be very thick and sticky. I don&rsquot bother making them into a long roll, wrapping with saran wrap, cooling, and cutting into a traditional squares.
There&rsquos just no time for that. Using my hands, I just make them into equal size balls, flatten the ball a bit and bake for about 9 min. or so.
- You want them to be chewy (they have a chewy texture you won&rsquot find in any other cookie you will ever eat), and you do NOT want to overbake them.
Baking them a bit shorter than a bit too long is better, I just take them out when it has barely browned on the top and is brown on the bottom&hellipthey will harden a bit when they sit.
What does Lebkuchen taste like?
These German cookies are either rectangular or round. I find it is easier to just make balls instead of trying to shape them. They have a sweet, nutty taste, and their aroma is spicy.
I compare them to a cross between a dense spice cake and gingerbread. If you like nutmeg and allspice you&rsquoll love these.
- They are usually soft with a slight crunch from chopped nuts on top if you choose to add those.
- Lebkuchen is a traditional Christmas cookie which is often enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee.
Is Lebkuchen the same as gingerbread?
One is typically cut into human shapes or built into houses called gingerbread houses while lebkuchen is a traditional german christmas biscuit form of gingerbread.
If you&rsquore making these for a Christmas market, make our crinkle cookies recipe and snowball cookies too!
How long do Lebkuchen keep?
- These are so special to me that I make a double batch and freeze half of them in small freezer bags. That way I can take out a few weeks later and savor them.
However, if you store them on the counter I would eat them within a few weeks for optimal texture and taste. As long as you store your lebkuchen in an airtight container and in a cool, dry place, you can continue to enjoy it for more than 3 months.
Can you freeze Lebkuchen?
Yes Lebkuchen cookies can be frozen in appropriate freezer bags. It is important that they are defrosted gently and slowly though when you&rsquore ready to enjoy them.
The more gently this is done the softer and more succulent they will be once defrosted.
Want to see a few of my favorite things you might want to write on your Christmas list this year. 😉 Take a peek and see how many you might already have&helliptwinsies!
Looking for more easy family recipes and tips? LIKE The Typical Mom Facebook page?
***** If you LOVED this recipe give it 5 Stars below and let everyone know what you thought about it. 😉
- Honey bars:
- 1 cup (320g) honey
- 2 tablespoons (30g) water
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 85g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ¾ cup packed (175g) brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon (15g) lemon juice
- 2 ½ cups sifted (300g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground anise
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup chopped blanched almonds
- 1/3 cup chopped citron
- 1/3 cup chopped candied orange peel
- Citrus glaze:
- 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Candied cherries (optional)
- Blanched almonds (optional)
Update: “Fermenting” Gingerbread
Old gingerbread recipes often say to let the dough rest for weeks! Since I often bake wild yeast bread and sourdough bread from scratch, I wondered if this long rest time would help the gingerbread rise. So I started an experiment: I put the gingerbread in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel and let the dough ferment for two weeks at room temperature.
The high amount of honey in the gingerbread dough prevents spoilage or mold growth. However, the honey obviously also prevents the growths of wild yeasts or lactobacilli. Because even after two weeks at room temperature, the gingerbread dough didn’t smell or taste sour like sourdough or yeasty like wild yeast bread.
The “fermented” gingerbread dough looked and smelled exactly like fresh gingerbread dough. And even after baking, there was no difference between “fermented” and fresh gingerbread. So, either the rest time was still too short or the high amount of honey (or spices) in the gingerbread dough prevents the growth of wild yeasts and lactobacilli.