Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Lebkuchen!

I found this recipe in a cookbook I found at the thrift store. Maybe it is the German part of me that thinks this might be the best Christmas cookie ever but it just might be the easiest recipe ever.

The cookbook states that it is an Austrian and German spice cookie that is eaten in winter and especially at Christmas. Can be served with tea, coffee or mulled wine.

I doubled the recipe because it looked so good and when the scent of the spices wafted through the kitchen, I knew I made the right call on that! It can keep for up to a month, sealed, at room temperature and it actually improves in flavour.

This recipe is made in a large sheetpan with edges. You can half the recipe and make it in a 8 X 12 baking dish.

1/2 cup mixed peel (candied orange and lemon)
2 1/3 cups unbleached flour
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cups ground almonds
2 eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups clear honey, melt slightly in microwave if needed
6 tbsp milk
1/2 lb icing sugar (more if needed)
1/2 tsp rum extract + 1 tsp almond extract (this is what I had- use what you have: the recipe calls for brandy, but almond extract on its own would be great.
Optional: multi-cloured round sprinkles (hundreds and thousands) You can buy organic ones with natural colours.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line pan with parchment paper or butter and flour.
2. Blitz the peel in 1/3 cup of the flour in a food processor or blender.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the rest of the flour, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and baking powder. Add mixed peel and almonds.
4. With a mixer, beat eggs and brown sugar until pale in colour (about 3-5 minutes). Add honey, then milk. Add flour mixture and continue to beat (if you have a stand mixer) or mix by hand.
5. Pour into pan and smooth evenly with a spatula. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until springy to the touch. While it is baking, prepare the icing.
6. Sift the icing sugar into medium size bowl, add 1 tbsp water and the flavouring (brandy or almond extract). Mix well, add more water if needed until it is thick but should run from the spoon.
7. Remove lebkuchen from pan and brush with icing while still warm. Sprinkle on multicoloured sprinkles if desired. Let cool until icing is firm and then slice into finger-sized pieces (approx. 1 X 3" size).