Weekend Cooking: Lebkuchen

My 24 days of Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been a while since my last weekend cooking post. Today I want to tell you a bit about Lebkuchen (gingerbread). As it happens I live in THE German gingerbread city. “Nürnberger Lebkuchen” are very well known, they are exported into many countrie, and the term is a protected designation of origin. We have a lot of Lebkuchen bakeries and factories in town. There are small family owned bakeries that have existed for centuries as well as big companies that produce Lebkuchen as part of their very large product line.

Lebküchner, 16th century Lebkuchen come in a large variety, different sizes and can cost from only a few cents to a few Euros a piece. They either have no frosting at all, a sugar frosting or they come covered with chocolate. At the bottom they either have a wafer or  they are also covered with chocolate. There are the “regular” Lebkuchen and the very high quality “Elisen-Lebkuchen” which are made with either very little or completely without flour. They can contain ginger, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, honey, marzipan, aniseed, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, all spice, cloves, candied orange and lemon peel and much more. The oldest written Lebkuchen recipe is from the 15th century and is stored at the Germanic National Museum in Nürnberg.

You can go on a Nuremberg gingerbread tour where you learn a lot more about those delicious little “cakes”.

If you would like to try out some Nürnberg Lebkuchen yourself, you can order them online in various shops. I was surprised at the prices that American online shops charge for them, though. You will be better off orderingLebkuchenstall directly in Germany, even considering the postage charges. Probably the most well-known shop shipping worldwide is Lebkuchen Schmidt. My company buys from them for Christmas treats, so you can trust me that their products are lovely. And they have nice tins, too. For kids the Janosch-Truhe is a lovely container to store some treasures in after eating all the Lebkuchen. All those tins come out every year, always a little different and some people collect them. 

My favourite Lebkuchen brand is Witte & Ray. They not only have the best regular Lebkuchen, they also have wonderful Elisenlebkuchen with a white chocolate icing that are absolutely yummy.

What are your favourite Christmas treats? Have you ever had Lebkuchen from Nürnberg, and if you have, did you like them?

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Images from wikipedia. Gingerbread stall by Schlurcher

28 Comments Write a comment

  1. I have had Lebkuchen, but I don’t know what particular variety they were. We used to have a wonderful bakery near us that made the most wonderful lebkuchen at Christmas as well as marzipan creations, but sadly they went out of business several years ago.
    I didn’t realize that there were so many variations, including ones with frosting. Those I have never seen.
    TheBookGirl’s last post ..Weekend Cooking (16): Review and GIVEAWAY

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  2. I adore gingerbread. How did I not know about Lebkuchen when I was in Germany? Ok so last time I was there, I was in Bremen and just for 2 nights and in the spring, but still! As far as I know I’ve never had the official Lebkuchen but now I’m going to look for it.

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    • That might explain it. In spring they are not really available (except in the Lebkuchen specialty shops). And, really, who eats Lebkuchen in spring or summer?

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    • We also have fruitcake on our christmas markets, Caite. I wonder whether it is the same kind of cake.

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  3. Ah, lebkuchen 🙂 My sister lives in Frankfurt, so she decided to make some lebkuchen herself. I unfortunately did not get to taste it, as the piece she mailed to me was unfortunately lost for a while in the mail. By the time it arrived… well, I wasn’t sure whether I should have a bite. I had no idea there were so many kinds of lebkuchen. Strangely enough, here in neighbouring Netherlands it’s not as popular. Maybe because we and the Belgians are more fond of the slightly different tasting and textured speculoos/speculaas?

    (The Lebkuchen Schmidt website is to die for… *drools*)

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    • I have never made them myself. I am not even sure how much work it is, but with all the ready to eat variety out there I consider it too much anyway.
      Speculaas: That sounds a lot like our Spekulatius, another special Christmas cookie. I must look whether they are the same.

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    • Oh, Uniflame, those hearts taste awful! They are not at all the same thing. They are called “Lebkuchenherzen”, but the dough is very different, they are hard and altogether terrible.
      If you ever have a real Lebkuchen you will notice the difference immediately.

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  4. A book about the history of French cooking names Dijon as a city famous for its gingerbread. But wait, I thought, isn’t gingerbread a German specialty? My recipe is made extra spicy with the addition of pepper. That seems to be what sets it apart from other gingerbreads.

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    • I had a look and really they say that Dijon is famous for “spiced cakes”. I don’t know whether they are the same.
      Pepper is an interesting addition to gingerbread. Not sure how that would taste.

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  5. I’m not fond of gingerbread, and I have never had the real deal, perhaps that would make a difference. I do love your post though, great to know the REAL Story of our Christmas time traditions.

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  6. I adore gingerbread! There are so many recipes for it it is amazing! I have not had any from Germany. and i am from German descent – Brintzenhofe is my maiden name. I’ll have to rectify this:)

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  7. My father’s side of the family came to the US from Germany and brought along a recipe for Lebkuchen. We all still make it every Christmas. Ours is actually a glazed cookie. Although it is time-consuming to make, it’s delicious. One of my favorite Christmas treats..
    Margot’s last post ..Happy Crab Season

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  8. You won’t believe this, but one of my nicknames is Ginger, partly because I love gingerbread, and partly well… that’s a secret :))
    I haven’t eaten gingerbread from Nurnberg, but next time I go to Germany, I will :)) My favorite winter treat? Chocolate and vanilla pudding.. .yummy!
    Ally’s last post ..The Bigger, the Better? We shall see!

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    • Over here Lebkluchen are THE office gift for Christmas. Buy a nice tin filled with Elisenlebkuchen and you are done. Easy!

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    • For us it usually doesn’t pay to make those treats at home as we can buy them in every store. But homemade Lebkuchen are definitely worth trying if you can’t get them easily.

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  9. I love Lebkuchen! My maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Germany in the late 1920s (they were young lovers and came a year or two apart and married here in the US during the Great Depression. All rather romantic!), so I grew up loving my Oma’s German cooking–her holiday treats among my very favorite foods. She used to make lebkuchen cut into diamond shapes. I have tried making it myself over the years, trying out different recipes until I find one close to my oma’s but without any luck so far. The same goes for her stollen. I don’t think I’ll ever taste these treats as good as hers ever again. I do make Spritz cookies, though, that are very close to hers and my kids love them. I recently bought Pfeffernüsse at the store and they were good, but not great.

    I was in Germany over the summer. Traveled by train from Amsterdam to Berlin, then Berlin to Münich, then Münich to Geneva. I probably traveled right through Nuernberg? This was my first time there, but hopefully not my last! 🙂
    Christine’s last post ..A 500th Post Holiday Giveaway

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    • Ihave never made Lebkuchen myself, let alone Stollen! Pfeffernüsse can be great or just so so. It all depends on the brand and what you like best, like with everything.

      If you drove from Berlin to Munich by car you will most likely have passed Nürnberg. The Autobahn is going right straight through our region.

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      • We were traveling by train, so maybe it was a more circuitous path between Berlin and Munich. That particular leg of our trip was in the middle of the night, so we were sleeping for the whole nonstop trip from Berlin to Munich.
        Christine’s last post ..A 500th Post Holiday Giveaway

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    • I love shortbread all year round! I have never heard of Nanimo bars, must look for themon the internet.

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