Lebkuchen, a popular treat during the holidays and Christmas, is a traditional German cookie filled with almonds, spices, honey and candied orange peel.
I knew I had to at least once make this traditional German cookie while I lived in Germany. Every holiday season beginning in October, these cookies begin showing up on the shelves in the grocery stores. They are so incredibly popular that the stores keep their shelves fully stocked because Germans love their Lebkuchen! And with that being said, I made traditional German Lebkuchen Day 7 of my 12 Days of Cookies!
As I was reading up on the history of Lebkuchen, I learned that they were made as far back as the 1200’s in Ulm, Germany and the 1300’s in Nurnberg, Germany. Nürnberg currently makes one of the most popular varieties of Lebkuchen made and you can get them fresh at the Christmas Markets there.
Lebkuchen comes is several varieties. Some have a wafer on the bottom, others are covered in chocolate and some even have fruit, honey or other mix-ins inside. Most traditionally, Lebkuchen is not too sweet, but is spiced with a very thin glaze on top. It’s said lebkuchen tastes a lot like gingerbread because of all the spices, but it’s not a gingerbread! The Starbucks here sells a Lebkuchen coffee and to the Americans that order it, they call it Gingerbread… but let me tell you, this cookie is far from gingerbread! Gingerbread typically has molasses in it, but these cookies don’t! Made with ground almonds, Lebkuchen is a light, crumby cookie full of delicious spiced flavor!
The version I made is a honey based Lebkuchen made with candied orange peel and almond flour. I added a basic glaze to the top that wasn’t too thick because I wanted to candied orange peel to be seen on the top through the glaze.
Since I’m allergic to nuts, I asked my German friend, Mareile, to taste test them for me and give me her honest feedback. Since she’s German, she’s had her share of these cookies her entire life and she’d know if they weren’t up to German cookie standards! Luckily for me, she said my recipe was delish and tasted exactly like they should for a sweet, candied version of the cookie! Awesome!
So, if you’ve ever been to Germany or have had Lebkuchen before and want to recreate them at home, my recipe will do the trick!
- 250g all-purpose flour (about 1¾ cup + 2 Tbsp)
- 85g ground almonds (about 9/10 cup)
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- zest of 1 lemon
- 200ml honey
- 85g unsalted butter (about 6 Tbsp)
- 100g candied orange peel, finely chopped (about ⅔ cup)
- 100g powdered sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1-2 Tbsp water
- Whisk the flour, almonds, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest together in a large bowl. Fold in the candied orange peel.
- In a small sauce pan, heat the honey and butter together over low heat just until the butter has melted.
- Pour the honey and butter and mix together until all ingredients have been incorporated.
- Cover and chill for 1 hour or until the dough is no longer warm.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Using your hands, roll 2-3 Tbsp of dough into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly into a disc. Place each disc of dough 2" apart on the cookie sheet.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool on pan for 1 minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, egg white and water. You want a smooth, runny glaze.
- Dip the top of each cookie in the glaze. Shake off the extra and use the back of a spoon to spread to the edges if necessary.
- Let the cookies set until the glaze has hardened.
- Store in an airtight container.
Want more cookies?
Check out the main page for the 12 Days of Cookies and you’ll find the links to all the recipes! Next cookie will be posted tomorrow!