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Typical of traditional recipes, every German baker has a favorite version of lebkuchen. The size and shape of lebkuchen vary from a round drop cookie three to four inches in diameter to large squares that are cut into bars.

Leb refers to honey, and in Medieval German, lebchen meant "honeybee." Today lebchen is a term of endearment, meaning "my dear one." Chewy, spicy, and irresistible, lebkuchen are sold on every street corner in German villages from the beginning of Advent until Christmas. And in Germany, as in the United States, they push the season forward into the middle of November (Advent actually begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas).

The cookies are baked on a thin, edible wafer called oblaten. Oblaten are crisp, white wheat wafers that are available in specialty food shops. If you do not have a specialty food shop that handles oblaten, check with a local religious supply house. Wafers that are used for communion come in various sizes, including 2 3/4 and 3-inch diameters, and can be used for lebkuchen.

5 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups unblanched almonds, finely ground (with skins)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely diced candied orange peel
1/2 cup finely diced candied lemon peel
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
42 to 48 round German baking wafers (oblaten) 2 3/4 or 3 inches in diameter


1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Halved blanched almonds

In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a large bowl, beat or whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water over low heat and heat, whisking until the mixture is thick and very warm (about 130 F) Remove from the water bath and continue beating until the mixture is cool. Combine the almonds, flour, zests, and spices in another bowl. Stir into the egg sugar mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Place the oblaten on baking sheets 2 inches apart. Spread 1 rounded tablespoonful of the cookie dough on each oblaten, spreading to the edges of the wafers. let the cookies stand, uncovered, for 1 hour before baking so that the top will dry.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are crusty on the upper surface, but still moist in the center. Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

In a small bowl, stir the sugar and lemon juice together to make a thin glaze. Spread over half of the cooled cookies.
Place the chocolate into a glass bowl and heat in the microwave at high power for about 2 minutes, stirring every
15 seconds, until melted. Spread the melted chocolate over the remaining cookies. Decorate with the almonds. makes 42 to 48 cookies.

The Great Holiday Baking Book Beatrice Ojakangas ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

by Olga



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Last updated September 25, 2004