12/23/11

Feature: Elisenlebkuchen


Next to Stollen Lebkuchen is probably one of the most popular treats in Germany around ChristmastimeGerman gingerbread is unfortunately a very loose translation of Lebkuchen, however. It is similar to American gingerbread in that it is a spiced cookie, but that is about as much as they have in common. While our gingerbread snaps like a sugar cookie, most German Lebkuchen is soft and risen with ingredients like nuts and candied fruit peels. It's also much spicier than our gingerbread and is usually covered either with a powdered sugar glaze or dark chocolate.

Image courtesy of http://www.aboutgermanproducts.com/

Unlike American cooking which only goes back three centuries or so, Lebkuchen was invented by Medieval Franconian monks in the 13th century--the earliest records of the dessert were found in Ulm in 1296 and in Nuremberg in 1395. Nuremburg is now the biggest producer of the baked good and ships its products all over the world, often in decorated collector tins. Nuremberg's tradition of Lebkuchen stems back to 1487 when Friedrich III held a Reichstag and invited all the children of the city. To commemorate the event, he passed out Lebkuchen, on which his portrait was printed, to the four thousand children that attended. Elisenlebkuchen is a high quality variety of Nuremberger Lebkuchen baked without flour from 1808. Elise could either refer to a gingerbread baker's daughter or the wife of a margrave. Elise's name is associated with finest of the Lebkuchen produced by the members of the guild. 

image courtesy of poucan.blogspot.com

Traditional ingredients for Lebkuchen include honey, aniseed, coriander, cloves, ginger, cardamom, allspice, almonds, hazelnuts, or candied fruit. Because the treat is so ancient, the recipe has changed endlessly over the centuries, and there are many varieties of Lebkuchen today. Two rising agents commonly used in this medieval recipe are Salt of Hartshorn and Potash, both precursors to our modern rising agents of baking powder and baking soda. They work slightly differently, however. Baking powder can be used as a substitute for Salt of Hartshorn but the end result will not be as light and airy. 

Image courtesy of  http://stevenfama.blogspot.com    
The recipe that I've included in this post calls for neither. In fact, it doesn't call for a rising agent at all. You can purchase Salt of Hartshorn and Potash at a specialty shop or over the internet, but I thought I'd make the recipe as easy as possible for my American readers.The more ingredients you have to go out hunting for, the less likely you are to try out the recipe.


Another interesting ingredient often used in German baking are Oblaten, or wafers. These tasteless, unleavened wafers are eaten along with the baked good. This idea came from the monks who put the dough on communion wafers to prevent them the dough sticking. If you can't find wafers to place your cookie on, parchment paper will probably work just as well. 

Elisenlebkuchen
translated from the German from Heimweh Küche: Backen



Ingredients
2 large eggs
200g sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
125g ground almonds
100g ground hazelnuts
zest from 1 organic orange
30g candied orange peel
30g candied lemon peel
1 tbsp rum
14 neutral wafers, 7 cm in diameter
150g powdered sugar (or) 
125g dark chocolate couverture


Directions
1. Beat the eggs until foamy, and gradually add small hand fulls of sugar until creamy.



2. Add the spices, ground nuts, orange zest, candied fruit peels, rum, and stir until combined. Leave in bowl covered for 24 hours to let dry. (This last step can be skipped.)



3. Preheat the oven to 325F. Lay a baking sheet with parchment paper and/or wafers. Spoon dough onto wafers





4. Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle rack. Take out and let cool. Glaze with either powdered sugar glaze or chocolate, or divide them and cover with both. Mix the powdered sugar with 3-4 tablespoons of water and glaze each Lebkuchen with a pastry brush. Double coat once first coat is dry. 





5. For the chocolate coating, melt the couverture over a double boiler. Coat each Lebkuchen with the chocolate using a pastry brush. A double coat can be done if desired, however the chocolate is much thicker than the sugar glaze. 




6. Place the wet, glazed Lebkuchen on a parchment covered baking sheet. Let dry for 2-3 hours until glazes are completely hardened. 

7. For a nice (and very German) Christmas gift, wrap the Lebkuchen in cellophane and tie with ribbon. They last for one to two months before becoming stale. 



Enjoy a very German Christmas!


Top image courtesy of http://neo-homesteading.blogspot.com

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2 Comments:

At December 23, 2011 at 1:47 PM , Blogger Chesterberry said...

This looks incredible! Can't wait to get some for Christmas ;-)

 
At December 26, 2011 at 5:12 PM , Blogger Therese said...

A friend and I had some of this while visiting Monschau in the Eifel region. We were looking for gingerbread and surprised to see that all the different gingerbread-like cookies had a chocolate glaze on the top; what was even more surprising was the licorice flavour: I'm guessing that was the aniseed flavouring you mention.

 

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Living the Rustic Life: Feature: Elisenlebkuchen

Feature: Elisenlebkuchen


Next to Stollen Lebkuchen is probably one of the most popular treats in Germany around ChristmastimeGerman gingerbread is unfortunately a very loose translation of Lebkuchen, however. It is similar to American gingerbread in that it is a spiced cookie, but that is about as much as they have in common. While our gingerbread snaps like a sugar cookie, most German Lebkuchen is soft and risen with ingredients like nuts and candied fruit peels. It's also much spicier than our gingerbread and is usually covered either with a powdered sugar glaze or dark chocolate.

Image courtesy of http://www.aboutgermanproducts.com/

Unlike American cooking which only goes back three centuries or so, Lebkuchen was invented by Medieval Franconian monks in the 13th century--the earliest records of the dessert were found in Ulm in 1296 and in Nuremberg in 1395. Nuremburg is now the biggest producer of the baked good and ships its products all over the world, often in decorated collector tins. Nuremberg's tradition of Lebkuchen stems back to 1487 when Friedrich III held a Reichstag and invited all the children of the city. To commemorate the event, he passed out Lebkuchen, on which his portrait was printed, to the four thousand children that attended. Elisenlebkuchen is a high quality variety of Nuremberger Lebkuchen baked without flour from 1808. Elise could either refer to a gingerbread baker's daughter or the wife of a margrave. Elise's name is associated with finest of the Lebkuchen produced by the members of the guild. 

image courtesy of poucan.blogspot.com

Traditional ingredients for Lebkuchen include honey, aniseed, coriander, cloves, ginger, cardamom, allspice, almonds, hazelnuts, or candied fruit. Because the treat is so ancient, the recipe has changed endlessly over the centuries, and there are many varieties of Lebkuchen today. Two rising agents commonly used in this medieval recipe are Salt of Hartshorn and Potash, both precursors to our modern rising agents of baking powder and baking soda. They work slightly differently, however. Baking powder can be used as a substitute for Salt of Hartshorn but the end result will not be as light and airy. 

Image courtesy of  http://stevenfama.blogspot.com    
The recipe that I've included in this post calls for neither. In fact, it doesn't call for a rising agent at all. You can purchase Salt of Hartshorn and Potash at a specialty shop or over the internet, but I thought I'd make the recipe as easy as possible for my American readers.The more ingredients you have to go out hunting for, the less likely you are to try out the recipe.


Another interesting ingredient often used in German baking are Oblaten, or wafers. These tasteless, unleavened wafers are eaten along with the baked good. This idea came from the monks who put the dough on communion wafers to prevent them the dough sticking. If you can't find wafers to place your cookie on, parchment paper will probably work just as well. 

Elisenlebkuchen
translated from the German from Heimweh Küche: Backen



Ingredients
2 large eggs
200g sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
125g ground almonds
100g ground hazelnuts
zest from 1 organic orange
30g candied orange peel
30g candied lemon peel
1 tbsp rum
14 neutral wafers, 7 cm in diameter
150g powdered sugar (or) 
125g dark chocolate couverture


Directions
1. Beat the eggs until foamy, and gradually add small hand fulls of sugar until creamy.



2. Add the spices, ground nuts, orange zest, candied fruit peels, rum, and stir until combined. Leave in bowl covered for 24 hours to let dry. (This last step can be skipped.)



3. Preheat the oven to 325F. Lay a baking sheet with parchment paper and/or wafers. Spoon dough onto wafers





4. Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle rack. Take out and let cool. Glaze with either powdered sugar glaze or chocolate, or divide them and cover with both. Mix the powdered sugar with 3-4 tablespoons of water and glaze each Lebkuchen with a pastry brush. Double coat once first coat is dry. 





5. For the chocolate coating, melt the couverture over a double boiler. Coat each Lebkuchen with the chocolate using a pastry brush. A double coat can be done if desired, however the chocolate is much thicker than the sugar glaze. 




6. Place the wet, glazed Lebkuchen on a parchment covered baking sheet. Let dry for 2-3 hours until glazes are completely hardened. 

7. For a nice (and very German) Christmas gift, wrap the Lebkuchen in cellophane and tie with ribbon. They last for one to two months before becoming stale. 



Enjoy a very German Christmas!


Top image courtesy of http://neo-homesteading.blogspot.com

Labels: , , , ,