Christmas Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen is a traditional German Christmas baking good, somewhat like soft gingerbread, which was probably invented by Medieval monks in Franconia, Germany in the 13th century. Lebkuchen bakers were recorded as early as 1296 in Ulm, and 1395 in Nuremberg, the latter being the most famous exporter today, known as Nürnberger Lebkuche. Lebkuchen range in taste from spicy to sweet and come in a variety of shapes with round being the most common. The ingredients usually include honey, spices and nuts, almonds or candied fruit. Salt of Hartshorn and Potash are often used for raising the dough. Lebkuchen dough is usually placed on a thin wafer base called Oblate. This was an idea of the monks who used communion wafers to prevent the dough from sticking.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup molasses

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup diced candied citron

1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts or almonds

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease cookie sheets. Using a small amount of dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Using cutter cut into small hearts, rounds, stars, rectangles or even make a pretzels and place them 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until no imprint remains when touched lightly. Brush the icing over the cookies while they are still hot and quickly remove them to wire cooling racks. Store in airtight container with a cup of orange or apple for a few days to mellow.

To make the icing:

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat to between 234 and 240°F (112 to 116°C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from the water and placed on a flat surface. Remove from heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar. If icing becomes sugary while brushing cookies, re-heat slightly- adding a little water until crystals dissolve.

Also you can use melted chocolate coating or whatever you like. Well, it’s Christmas time!

 

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