Lebkuchen Cookies, some delicious German Christmas cookies that are very similar taste-wise to gingerbread. Beautifully spiced, with a lovely thin icing on top, these lebkuchen cookies are very popular in Europe during the festive season. A super easy recipe that is pretty much failproof.
These lebkuchen cookies might sound like a weird treat, but the taste is well known, and loved too during the festive season. They are also the treat of my childhood, as they are what we call gingerbread or "Turta Dulce" in Romania.
We might bake the classic gingerbread men now too, but they weren't as known when I was little.
There are probably many variations out there, and more complicated and beautifully decorated cookies, but sometimes less is more. The thin layer of icing is what brings out the earthy spices used in the cookies, and everything makes one delicious treat.
And we don't even need loads of ingredients, just a few simple ones that we probably already have around. If you bake with kids, they will absolutely love getting their hands messy. Let's see how to make them!
- plain flour - no need for self-raising or any other flour
- butter - unsalted
- sugar - granulated or caster sugar
- honey - could be replaced with golden syrup in the UK
- eggs - at room temperature
- mixed spice -cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
- cinnamon - I still like to add a bit even if the mixed spice contains cinnamon as well
- bicarb of soda - not baking powder!
- lemon juice - to balance out the sweetness of the honey
- icing sugar - well sifted to avoid lumps
- boiling water
Step-by-step photos and instructions
- melt the butter, and leave it to cool slightly
- in a bowl, sift the flour, add the mixed spice, cinnamon and bicarb of soda
- add the eggs beaten lightly, melted butter, honey and lemon juice
- mix well to get a dough that does not stick to the hands - add more flour if necessary
- chill the dough for 30 minutes
- preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (390 Fahrenheit)
- form balls the size of a walnut, and arrange them on the baking tray lined with non-stick paper - do leave enough room between the cookies as they spread
- bake for 10 minutes until firm and light brown
How to decorate lebkutchen cookies
Once the cookies have cooled down, you can make the icing. I usually keep it simple, but you can add any flavouring of your choice: vanilla, lemon, orange extract, etc
Mix the sifted icing sugar with the boiled water to get a smooth liquid paste - if it's a bit lumpy, pass it through a sieve or blitz it in a blender for a few seconds. Drizzle it over the cookies or dip them into the paste, and leave the icing to harden. Then they are ready to serve.
You can, of course, decorate them with different colour - just add any food colouring to your sugar paste - I highly recommend paste food colouring, as the liquid ones are not as strong, and they also alter the consistency of the icing.
I find that the texture of the dough depends greatly on the flour you use - if the dough seems too soft and still very sticky, add more flour as necessary to get an elastic dough that does not stick to the hands.
Do not add too much flour at once, as that will change the texture of the cookies, and they will turn out rock hard. It is best to add a tablespoon of flour at a time until you get the desired texture.
The dough will harden further in the fridge, so it's best to have it slightly on the softer side to begin with, rather than too dry and lumpy.
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- 300 g plain flour
- 100 g butter
- 100 g sugar
- 5 tablespoon honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon bicarb of soda
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
For the icing
- 200 g icing sugar
- 2 tablespoon boiling water
- To make the cookies, melt the butter and allow it to cool slightly.
- Sift the flour, add the bicarb of soda, spices, honey, lemon juice, melted butter and eggs beaten lightly.
- Knead gently to get a dough that does not stick to the hands - add more flour if necessary.
- Cover the dough with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 Fahrenheit).
- Make balls out of the dough the size of a walnut, and arrange them on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper - leave enough room between cookies as they double their volume.
- Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown and firm to touch.
- Leave to cool completely.
- To make the icing, sift the icing sugar, add the boiling water and mix well to get a lump-free icing.
- When the cookies have cooled, drizzle the icing over, and leave to dry completely.
- I find that the texture of the dough depends greatly on the flour you use - if the dough seems too soft and still very sticky, add more flour as necessary to get an elastic dough that does not stick to the hands.
- Do not add too much flour at once, as that will change the texture of the cookies, and they will turn out rock hard. It is best to add a tablespoon of flour at a time until you get the desired texture.
- The dough will harden further in the fridge, so it's best to have it slightly on the softer side to begin with, rather than too dry and lumpy.