I have wanted to try to make German Lebkuchen for years. I love the soft and chewy texture of this gingerbread cookie. Today's cookie is a descendent of medieval gingerbread which was made with a combination of spices and honey and dried bread crumbs. The most famous Lebkuchen comes from Nuremberg and while most associate the cookie with Christmas, I have seen it in the marketplace during other times of the year also. They were just as good in the spring as they were in the winter!
When it comes to the recipe, there are just as many recipes as there are bakeries selling the cookies! The recipe I used came from the Viking River Cruise collection of recipes. It was simple and tasty.
adapted from Viking River Cruises
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg
1/3 cup candied citron, diced (I omitted the citron.)
1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk or water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
Candied citron or ginger
In a medium saucepan, bring the honey and molasses to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and zest. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and spices. Stir the molasses mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the citron and hazelnuts. Cover and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a floured, hard surface roll out a small amount of chilled dough to 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is sticky, use more flour. Cut the cookies into rounds or stars and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
While the cookies are baking make the icing by heating the granulated sugar and liquids in a saucepan, but do not bring it to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the confectioner's sugar. If the icing crystallizes, reheat and add some more milk or water.
Transfer the cookies to a rack and while still hot, brush them with the icing. Decorate the cookies with the sliced almonds or candied citron or ginger.
Let the cookies cool completely. Store them in a sealed container.