Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Baking Part 2 - Lebkuchen (Big Cookies)

Yesterday I made beautiful cookies.

Today I made ugly ones!
These cookies have been made in my family at Christmas time for at least four generations. My great grandmother taught my nana how to make them. My nana taught my father how to make them and my father taught me. We have other traditional foods that we make at Christmas, but these are my favorite, so every year I take an afternoon to bake and think about my great grandmother whom I was lucky to have many years with. She moved to Canada from Denmark when she was young, in the 1920's I believe, and lived on a farm in New Brunswick with my great grandfather for the rest of her life.

The cookies are like rocks if you try to eat them as is. The only liquids in them are honey and smidge of lemon juice, so they will hurt your teeth if you chomp down on one. But, dip them in a hot cup of coffee or tea (4 seconds is the perfect amount of time) and they become soft and spongy. The icing melts a little and the center of the cookie is nice and chewy. Not to mention it sweetens your hot drink a little. I always like to let my tea cool for ten minutes or so before I drink it, so what better way to pass the time than with a cookie? They are a little bit spicy and a little bit sweet, one of my very favorite Christmas treats.

I wanted to share this family recipe so that hopefully some of you will add this to your Christmas baking list. Let me know if you do!

Recipe: Lebkuchen (Big Cookies)

Makes approximately 2 dozen


1 cup honey
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 beaten egg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon rind
1/3 cup chopped citron peel
1/3 cup almond slices
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves

Bring honey to a boil, pour in a bowl and let cool.

Add sugar and remaining ingredients. Mix well and store overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Turn out on floured board and roll out 1/2" thick and cut into 2” circles with a circular cookie cutter or a drinking glass. The dough will be sticky, so flour the rolling pin and board frequently to prevent sticking.

Space well apart on cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 12 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Cookies are done when one or two start to brown along the bottom edge.

When completely cool, ice with almond icing and decorate with almonds and citron. Serve with coffee or tea.

For the icing, I usually make sort of a poor man's buttercream. About 1/4 cup butter, 2 1/2 cups icing sugar, 1 tsp almond extract and enough milk to make it easy to spread, all mixed together until smooth but not until fluffy. Spread a thin layer on the cookie and allow the icing to harden. By not using as much butter/shortening as with a regular buttercream, it crusts much faster which is the effect you want.

I'm not sure if the boiling honey is an old way of pasturizing it for safety, or what the purpose is exactly, but I do it anyway. At the very least, having warm honey in the dough makes it much easier to stir, but I'm not sure it's actually necessary to bring it all the way to a boil.

I made two batches so I can leave out half a dozen or so for snacking before putting the rest in the freezer until Christmas.

So far my Christmas baking is shaping up nicely!


Our cookies flopped last night...

Oh no! What did you try to make?

Chewy Molasses cookies. They look pretty... weird dough, very soft and sticky. Jolea thinks it called for too much molasses, 2 cups! And only one cup of sugar. They weren't sweet at all. I even rolled them in sugar, but they were still bland. I still have half the dough left in little plastic wrapped bundles in the fridge. I don't think there's a way to save them... I wonder if I could roll them out as if to make cut out cookies but instead of using flour to roll them out with, I could use Confectioner's sugar... what do you think oh mighty queen of the oven?

Without seeing the recipe, it's hard to say, but I'm thinking maybe you should try to work more flour into the dough until you get a workable consistency and then maybe ice the finished cookies to give them more sweetness. My understanding is that confectioners sugar is made up of regular sugar plus cornstarch, so I think that flour would work better.

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home