Lebkuchen is a spicy German cookie synonymous with Christmas. Soft in the centre and slightly crunchy on the edges, fragrant with spices and sticky molasses. What this cookies lack in looks it makes up for in flavour and like all good things, improves with age!
Lebkuchen adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
115g/ 1 stick salted butter
30mls/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup icing sugar
15g/1 tablespoon butter, at room temp
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water
- To make the dough stir together in a bowl the buttermilk and soda. It will become bubbly and thick.
- Add the honey and molasses and stir to combine. In a bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter until smooth, add the oil, sugar and vanilla.
- Beat for 3 -4 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg, followed by the molasses and honey mixture. It will look curdled but that’s ok.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients. The dough will be thick and slightly wet. At this point it’s a good idea to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or even a few days to allow the flavours to mature.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Line baking trays with baking paper.
- Use baking paper dusted with flour to roll out the dough. It will be sticky so be liberal with the flour.
- Roll the dough to about 1 cm/1/3inch thick.
- Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters or simply squares with a knife.
- Arrange on prepared baking trays allow a little room for spreading.
- Bake for 12-13 minutes. Don’t overbake.
Make the icing as soon as the trays go into the oven, by beating all the ingredients together until a smooth consistency.
- Once the cookies are out of the oven and still warm, paint with the icing.
- Leave as is or embellish as desired.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.