Recipe: white Christmas crunch lebkuchen

8 Posted by - December 20, 2013 - delicious, food, recipe

White Christmas Crunch Lebkuchen via stuffthusfar.comThe weather has turned. What was a stinking hot bordering on endless summer has suddenly turned into what could only be described as a bloody cold bordering on winter autumn. Going against all sensible advice, I have decided to forego my sensible-in-between jacket and go straight to my Hell-has-frozen-over jacket. God only knows what I’ll do once the mercury hits minus something-or-other. Oh well, there’s always Glühwein and Schnapps to see me through.

So, right at the minute everything is feeling rather one-denominational holiday-ish, with the Weihnachtsmarkt set-up down the road and a steady stream of cars packed with Italian tourists searching for non-existent car parks—segue into lebkuchen!

I’m a HUGE fan of lebkuchen, funnily enough developing a taste for it while living in Sydney; there was a phenomenal Jewish bakery down Bondi Road that did spiced baked goods with such artfulness it could make you weep. Since I’ve been in ‘Germania’ I’ve of course been spoilt for choice. Regardless, this year I thought I’d create a bit of my own culinary history and attempt to decipher a traditional German-language recipe. These lebkuchen are rich in nuts (something akin to the Nürnberger version) and smothered in a wickedly crunchy sugar crust. Yum.

White Christmas Crunch Lebkuchen Recipe by STUFF THUS FAR

(Adapted from Lebkuchen Selbst Gebacken by Gabriele Redden)

This is my translated version of traditional German Lebkuchen recipe (with a few cheeky additions and omissions here and there).

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 100g candied lemon peel
  • 100g candied orange peel
  • 75g butter
  • 175g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 250g high-gluten flour (understanding flour types)
  • 200g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 100g almonds, roughly chopped
  • 100g sultanas or raisins, chopped
  • 100g marzipan (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

For the icing:

  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  •  2 egg whites
  • 1-2 tablespoons rum or sweet liqueur (I used a delicious caramel liqueur I picked up in Spain. YUM).

Method (day 1):

1. Chop the candied fruit peels as finely as possible. You could use a food processor for this, or if your peel is particularly sticky—and your tiny European apartment is as technologically and spatially challenged as mine—a pair of scissors.

2. Using an electric beater, cream the butter and sugar. (If you can manage this freehand you’re cool and get extra points for being an authentic slaving Hausfrau or Hausmann.)

White Christmas Crunch Lebkuchen via stuffthusfar.com

3. Now add the eggs one at a time to the creamed butter and sugar, beating between each addition to ensure the mixture stays light and creamy. Add honey and mix again.

White Christmas Crunch Lebkuchen via stuffthusfar.com

4. Mix together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (flour, nuts, sultanas or raisins, candied peel, marzipan if using, spices, cocoa, salt and baking powder). Don’t be afraid to use your hands for this bit.

5. Add the dry mixture to the wet, folding everything together with a large spoon or spatula. Then get out your dough hook (they’re the crazy-looking attachments for your hand-mixer that you hardly ever use) and mix everything together thoroughly. If you don’t have a dough hook, don’t panic, just use a wooden spoon to work the dough a little.

White Christmas Crunch Lebkuchen via stuffthusfar.com

6. Cover the dough with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight, letting all those yummy Christmassy flavours develop. You could skip this step if you’re time-poor, but I suggest being patient and just letting it ‘do its thing.’)

Method (day 2):

1. Take your dough out of the fridge. Line oven trays (you may have to do a couple of batches if you only have one tray) with baking paper, and using a tablespoon or an ice cream scoop, measure out even sized scoops of dough to shape into balls with your hands. If things get a bit sticky, wet your hands with cold water before handling the dough.

2. Flatten the balls, evenly spacing them on the tray to form cookie shapes. If you prefer to use a round or shaped cutter this works too, simply use a rolling-pin to roll out the dough evenly and then cut perfect round discs as you please.

White Christmas Crunch Lebkuchen via stuffthusfar.com

3. Leave the shaped lebkuchen to dry uncovered on the trays for around 2 hours. (You can skip this step if desired.)

4. Preheat the oven to 200°C (or 180°C in a fan-forced oven) and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until just golden-brown on the surface. Don’t be tempted to over-bake them, as they can get very dry and hard on the base if left for too long.

5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

6. Mix together the sifted icing sugar and egg whites until thoroughly combined. Add the alcohol to taste. (If you’re concerned about drunk kidlets you could substitute the alcohol with vanilla or caramel essence, or maple syrup perhaps? Let me know in the comments section what works for you!

7. Use a kitchen brush to smother the sugar icing onto the warm lebkuchen. You don’t need to be too fussy with this step, as I feel the rough nature adds to the charm, but, if you are particularly anal retentive a good tip would be to start with covering the bottoms, allowing them to dry completely before flipping them over and covering the tops.

White Christmas Crunch Lebkuchen via stuffthusfar.com

8. Once completely cooled and dry, transfer your lebkuchen into a tightly sealed tin.

White Christmas Crunch Lebkuchen via stuffthusfar.com

Notes:

  • Candied lemon and orange peel can be bought at most supermarkets in Germany or Austria in the lead-up to the holiday season. If you’re living elsewhere, and can’t seem to get your hands on any, you could make it yourself. If you’re keen, here’s a link to a great recipe, complete with pretty pictures, from Confessions of a wide-eyed baker. Or, if you prefer a penitentiary flavour, here’s Martha Stewart’s recipe.
  • Traditionally “Oblaten” thin paper-like wafers are used on the bottom of the lebkuchen (apparently to prevent the bottom of the batter from hardening).
  • If you’re curious about the origins and types of lebkuchen, check out this page.

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(COPYRIGHT © 2016 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - STUFFTHUSFAR.COM)

(COPYRIGHT © 2016 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - STUFFTHUSFAR.COM)

(COPYRIGHT © 2016 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - STUFFTHUSFAR.COM)

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