German Christmas Cookies: Lebkuchen. Authentic recipe of the most popular German cookies: spicy, soft and incredibly flavorful. Give them as gifts to your family and friends! Spice mix recipe provided.
Christmas baking is in full swing right now with millions of cookies being baked all over the world. In Germany, one of the most popular Christmas cookies is Lebkuchen which is German equivalent to British gingerbread cookies. If you happen to be in Germany around Christmas time, you will most definitely try them. It’s a true favorite! You can buy them on every Christmas market or grocery store but to me it’s only half fun. I baked a bunch of Lebkuchen with my husband and they tasted so good: nutty, spicy and soft! The smell was fantastic too: cinnamon, anise, cloves, ginger, orange zest… It’s a truly fabulous mix! Lebkuchen are soft from the inside and crunchy from the outside. To achieve this, they are left quite thick and baked for a short time. If you plan to make a gingerbread house, Lebkuchen would fit well, too! In this case the dough is rolled thinner and is harder when baked.
Baking is so much fun if you do it with your loved ones. Kids would have so much fun helping around and eating the cookies. It’s a bit unfair that Lebkuchen only get one month of glory a year. I would bake them all year round, not just for Christmas. Although they are especially good during this time. Moreover, if you are looking for a nice homemade personalized gift for your loved ones, here you go: bake Lebkuchen, pack them nicely and give them as gifts to your family and friends.
What makes these German Christmas cookies so special is the Lebkuchen spice mix. As you can guess, the recipe varies throughout regions but I will gladly share the one I usually use with you today. Feel free to decorate your Lebkuchen as you wish. I left them plain and they are still beautiful in their simplicity. Feel free to experiment with shapes. I made stars, hearts, deer and donkeys. Serve German Christmas cookies with a steaming glass of Glühwein (mulled wine), fruit punch or hot chocolate.
German Christmas Cookies: Lebkuchen
For the Lebkuchen spice mix:
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon ground orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon ground anise
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg flowers
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 10 cloves ground
- 150 grams or 7 tablespoons honey
For the Lebkuchen:
- 50 grams or 1/4 cup sugar
- 50 grams or 1/4 cup butter
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 egg
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Lebkuchen spice mix
- 1/4 teaspoon potash or baking soda Kaliumkarbonat
- 1/4 teaspoon hartshorn or 1/2 teaspoon baking soda baker's ammonia
- 1 1/2 teaspoon water
- 250 grams or 2 cups flour
- Combine all ingredient of the spice mix.
- In a saucepan, combine honey, sugar and butter and cook on medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring constantly. Let cool to room temperature. Add 1/2 egg, lemon zest and Lebkuchen spice mix. Dissolve potash and hartshorn in water. Add it to the honey mixture together with flour. Knead into a firm dough.
- Wrap the dough in plastic foil and let it rest for at least 1 hour 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Knead the dough again. Roll thick on floured surface (4-5 mm or 1.5-2 inches)
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C or 355 ºF. Cut the dough with cookie cutters of your choice. Place on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Increase the baking time if you like harder cookies. Immediately remove from the baking tray. Let cool and decorate with glaze or leave plain. Enjoy!