Tuesday, November 7, 2017

German Lebkuchen; when life with spice is nice!


If you already "get" what Lebkuchen is about, stop reading now.  For everyone else, allow me to fill you in.

Exotic spices from the Orient, Africa, and the Middle East began appearing along the trade routes in Europe hundreds of years ago.  It didn't take long for German bakers to start experimenting with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise, nutmeg, ginger, coriander, allspice, and pepper.

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 Lebkuchen, literally-translated means "life cake" and many Germans believe that their own life simply would not be complete without a generous assortment of this famous German Gingerbread during November and December. 

There are cake-like versions of Lebkuchen, but most Germans think of it as a type of cookie.  Recipes were created that quickly became synonymous with German cuisine and eventually with Christmas traditions in Germany.

CLICK➽ Imported Lebkuchen & Christmas specialties available right here in the USA.


Christmas markets in Germany sell steaming cups of spiced red wine (Glühwein) and the perfect cookie to go with hot wine or a cup of hot chocolate is your favorite variety of Lebkuchen. 

Famous bakeries with familiar names like WickleinLambertz, Bahlsen, Haeberlein-Metzger and Lebkuchen-Schmidt are typically well represented at these outdoor markets across Germany. In the days leading up to Christmas Eve countless millions of German Gingerbread is consumed.

CLICK➽ Imported Lebkuchen & Christmas specialties available right here in the USA.



As fall merges into winter, a typical local bakery (Bäckerei) in Germany will often feature its own Lebkuchen specialties.  Supermarkets feature a huge assortment of commercial Lebkuchen cookies that taste as delicious as they smell.

Even those who may not observe Christmas as a religious holiday often can't resist the aroma of the many spice combinations that give the Lebkuchen varieties their distinct appearance, taste, and texture.







During the winter holiday season, gift-givers like to present friends and loved ones with beautifully decorated keepsake tins filled with Lebkuchen.

The Festtagstruhe (Festive Chest) can be large and elaborate, not to mention collectible and large enough to fill with other specialties like Stollen. However, smaller tins can also bring squeals of delight.

After Christmas the tins are great for storing ornaments, letters, or mementos.

CLICK➽ Imported Lebkuchen & Christmas specialties available right here in the USA.


Some Lebkuchen types are firm and chewy, like Aachener Printen, which often boast notes of honey or incorporate bits of crunchy sugar crystals into plank-shaped cookies.  These cookies lend themselves well to dunking in your favorite hot beverage.

CLICK➽ Imported Lebkuchen & Christmas specialties available right here in the USA.







Most  Lebkuchen varieties are soft and moist.  An example is the classic round or rectangular Nürnberger Oblaten Lebkuchen.  Because of the delicate nature of these famous cookies, the dough is often placed onto thin, paper-like Oblaten wafers (➽ purchase Back-oblaten) and served glazed, or thinly-coated with chocolate, or simply unadorned. 

By the way, Oblaten wafers are 100% edible and without them the delicate cookie would fall apart during baking.  When not backing up a cookie, Oblaten are used as communion wafers.

Bakers often kick up the flavor of Lebkuchen with a hint of citrus peel.  They may also add an extra boost of richness with the generous addition of ground nuts.  An example is the version known as "Elisen" Lebkuchen, which is often pricy because of the quality of ingredients.

CLICK➽ Imported Lebkuchen & Christmas specialties available right here in the USA.
Pfeffernüsse


Pfeffernüsse have a spicy flavor with a peppery note.  The word "Pfeffernuss" translates to "pepper nut" mainly because of the pleasant peppery spices.

German Pfeffernüsse are traditionally glazed in a hard, white glaze.  However, a chocolate glaze is also popular, and a white and dark chcolate glaze has also found a following.

CLICK➽ Imported Lebkuchen & Christmas specialties available right here in the USA. 
Dominosteine






For many Germans it's just not Christmas without Dominosteine.  The square confection features a layer of Marzipan (an popular almond paste confection), then a layer of fruit gel, on a base of Lebkuchen all coated with Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, or White Chocolate. 


It's a bite of Christmas Heaven!

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The Lebkuchen that firms up after baking is used to create whimsical gingerbread men, which can be hung as edible ornaments.

The same firm dough is used to create delightful gingerbread houses, sometimes called "ein Knusperhaus" or "Hexenhaus".  Some are hung as ornaments on trees.











And who can resist buying someone a hand-decorated Lebkuchen Herzen (Gingerbread Hearts) art wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon so they can hang it from their neck to show off your message of affection?  Tasty as they are, those hearts often find themselves hung up at home as a keepsake until they get too stale to eat or the icing crumbles.  

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