My Beloved Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen is the quintessential German Christmas cookie. A well made Lebkuchen is a wonderful combination of crispy glazed shell and chewy, toothsome interior, subtly but perfectly flavored with rum, citrus, nuts and spices.

Elisen LebkuchenAt least that is the case for Elisen Lebkuchen. Technically, there are many different kinds, like the way there are many different kinds of gingerbread in English speaking countries. Elisen Lebkuchen is the one that matters, though. It’s the one that appears in all the German bakeries and at all the Christmas markets this time of year.

I spent years trying to figure out how to make it at home. I lost count of the number of recipes I tried. None were right. None were even close to right. This bothered me to no end. I just couldn’t figure it out. Then, one day, an Austrian friend took pity on my and gave me her recipe. And that was it. It was exactly what I was looking for. And now I shall share it with you.

It uses a very different method than most cookies. The process is more like a cake, really. There is no butter or other fat in them, and the eggs are beaten with the sugar as though you were making a whole egg meringue.

The Germans bake these cookies on what they call Back-Oblaten. They look and taste like communion wafers, and they take the place of greasing the pan or using parchment. The cookie dough is mounded and baked on top of them. Use them if you can get them. If not, line your baking sheet with parchment and proceed as usual.

Also, these are best when aged for a couple of weeks. If you want them for Christmas, make them now.

Elisen Lebkuchen

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp rum
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb ground almonds
  • 1/2 lb ground hazelnuts
  • 4 oz candied citron, finely diced
  • Back-Oblaten (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Grind the nuts, including their skins until flour-like.
  3. Mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and spices and set aside.
  4. Beat together eggs & sugar until fluffy & pale yellow. This will take several minutes.
  5. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture then add the extracts and rum, ground nuts and citron.
  6. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough on the Oblaten. Using a wet knife or finger, smooth dough into a dome shape.
  7. Bake for 30 min  until top is golden and edges are light brown. Brush with glaze (recipe follows) while still hot.
  8. Place in a tightly sealed tin and age for at least two weeks before eating.

Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  1. Mix together glaze ingredients. If mix thickens too much to spread thin it with little hot water.
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