Lebkuchen and Icing

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Lebkuchen and Icing

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Published prior to 2008

This is an old recipe from Berlin which appears in our 200th Anniversary Cookbook. Even though we've said we can throw caution to the winds during a holiday season (indulgence in eating has always been a part of feasting and revelry), this recipe mysteriously tastes rich and revelrous even though it doesn't contain any butter (or any other fat except for 1 egg). It certainly does contain an assortment of sweeteners, but sugar in any form is like any carbohydrate or protein containing 4 calories per gram of weight. (Fats in any form contain 9 calories, so it's those guys you need to watch out for.) These cookies have another nutritional bonus in that they don't contain any salt, either.

Lebkuchen is a form of gingerbread and, like other gingerbreads, was sold from booths at medieval fairs just the way we buy hotdogs or pretzels on city streets today. They were usually iced with pictures and sayings that were appropriate to an occasion.

You can either eat them plain (they're crisp and chewy at the same time and you'll find yourself going back for another and another), or you might decide to have a cookie-decorating party with your family and/or neighbors.

If you make small cookies, this recipe will make between 5 and 6 dozen. If you make larger ones for decorating, it will make half that number. But if you're having a crowd in, it may be easily doubled. Since the cookie dough needs to be chilled, plan to put it together the day before you want to bake your cookies.

1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed firmly
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup dark unsulphured molasses
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons each cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped mixed candied fruits and peels
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg until light and lemon colored. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the honey and molasses.

In a separate bowl, blend the dry ingredients together. Blend this mixture with the egg mixture. Stir in the fruit and nuts. Cover and chill several hours or overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. While the oven preheats, roll out the dough on a floured surface until it's about 1/4" in thickness. Cut the dough into rectangles that are 1 x 1 1/2-inch (small) or 1 1/2 x 3-inch (large for decorating) or any shape you want (circles, trees, stars, diamonds, etc.)

Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet giving them room to expand, which they will. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes.

Icing for Decorating Cookies

If you're doing this in a large group, this may be doubled or you may make several batches and color each differently.

    1 egg white
    1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
    food coloring
    small candies, etc.
Beat the eggs white until it is frothy and thick. Add the confectioners' sugar 1/4 cup at a time and keep beating until the mixture is stiff. Add food coloring if you wish.

The easiest way to pipe the frosting onto the cookies, if you don't have cake decorating equipment, is to use a small plastic bag. Fill the bag with frosting and make a tiny cut across one corner. (Best start small because you can always enlarge it.)

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 2, December 1991 issue.