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Lebkuchen spice recipe

Lebkuchen spice recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Cake

Use this spice mixture in your Christmas baking instead of the spices given in the recipe. You will soon figure out how much you prefer!

Norfolk, England, UK

6 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 1 (55g) batch spices

  • 35g ground cinnamon
  • 9g ground cloves
  • 2g ground coriander
  • 2g ground allspice
  • 2g ground ginger
  • 2g ground cardamom
  • 2g ground mace
  • 2g ground aniseed

MethodPrep:5min ›Ready in:5min

  1. Mix all the spices together and store in an airtight jar.


If you cannot get ground cardamom in your area, grind the whole cardamom with the shell in a coffee grinder until it's a fine powder.

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How to Make Lebkuchen (Traditional German Gingerbread)

Nürnberger Lebkuchen is just one of many types of German gingerbread popular at Christmastime. They have been baked in the city of Nürnberg since 1395 by the local monks. The spices had to be imported for all Lebkuchen, so cities with strong trading partners had an advantage over small, agricultural villages when creating new types of Lebkuchen. Nürnberg also had good honey production and this gave them an edge up in commercial production of their Lebkuchen, which began in the 14th century. In 1643, the city even created the "League of Lebkuchen Bakers".

Oblaten Lebkuchen are lebkuchen baked on individual thin wafers (one wafer to each cookie) to keep the soft cookie from sticking to the cookie sheet. However, since these wafers can be hard to get in the USA, as an alternative, line your baking sheets with parchment paper and bake the lebkuchen on top of the parchment paper.

Nürnberger Elisen Lebkuchen, considered the finest kind of Oblaten Lebkuchen, must have a minimum 25% nuts and less than 10% flour by weight. Sometimes, the recipe includes marzipan. These are soft, moist drop cookies.

Other types of Lebkuchen are made with a stiff dough which starts with a honey or sugar syrup and is rolled and baked. White Lebkuchen are decorated with almonds and candied orange or lemon peel. Lebkuchen is often referred to as Pfefferkuchen, translated as "pepper cake". It's also used in a Gingerbread House and Lebkuchen Hearts. Buy the "real thing" at Nuernberger Lebkuchen Online.

  • For the Dough:
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts (2 ounces 57g)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (2 ounces 57g)
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour (12 ounces 320g)
  • 2 tablespoons (14.8g) unsweetened cocoa (preferably dark)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5g) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (4.2g) ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (2.1g) ground powdered ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1g) ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon (0.5g) ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.8g) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed chopped candied orange rind (4 ounces 113g)
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed chopped crystallized ginger (2 ounces 57g)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick 57g)
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (5.3 ounces 150g)
  • 1 cup honey (12 ounces 340g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) pure vanilla extract
  • Nonstick spray, for greasing
  • For the Glaze:
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar (13 ounces 375g)
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) kirsch, Grand Marnier, or rum (or pure vanilla extract)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons warm water (1.5 to 2 ounces 45 to 60mL)

For the Dough: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast until the skins blister, about 14 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer nuts to a clean kitchen towel and rub together to remove the skins. Transfer nuts to a food processor and cool completely. Pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl along with the almond meal, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, powdered ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cardamom, and salt.

Put the candied orange rind and crystallized ginger into food processor along with 1 cup of the dry ingredient mixture and pulse until very finely chopped. Add the remaining dry ingredients and pulse to combine.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter with brown sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add honey and beat until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine. At very low speed, add dry ingredients by the heaping spoonful (to avoid powder eruptions) and beat until combined. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl and beat again until evenly combined.

If Making Bars: Line a half-sheet pan (13 inches by 18 inches) with brown parchment paper, extending paper a few inches over the short sides. Lightly spray the unlined sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the dough into a thin, even layer and bake in the center of the oven until surface is dimpled and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. The cake should be springy but firm. Let cool on a rack for 15 minutes.

If Making Individual Round Cookies: Chill dough until quite firm, about 4 hours. Working in 2 batches, line 2 large cookie sheets with brown parchment. Dip a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop (2 level tablespoons) into water, shake off excess water, and scoop level scoops of dough. Roll into balls and place 2 inches apart. Bake in the lower and middle thirds of the oven, shifting pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in center of cookies comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Slide parchment onto a wire rack to let cookies cool slightly while you bake the remaining cookies.

For the Glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk confectioners' sugar with kirsch and add enough water to make a thin but spreadable glaze. Spread glaze on just-warm cake or cookies and let cool completely. If making bars, slide cake (with parchment) from pan onto cutting board. Cut into 8 short strips, then cut each strip into 6 bars.

The lebkuchen can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, and improve significantly in texture and flavor if allowed to stand at least 1 day before serving.


  1. Honey bars:
    1. Heat honey and water in a large heavy saucepan until runny. Remove from heat, and stir in butter until melted. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in brown sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
    3. Add the flour mixture to the honey mixture and stir just until combined. Add almonds, citron, and candied orange peel. Stir until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours or up to 1 month.
    4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper so it extends over the 2 long sides.
    5. Firmly press the dough into the prepared pan to form a smooth, even layer. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, about 30 minutes.
    1. In a medium bowl, beat together powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. While the lebkuchen is still warm, spread glaze evenly over the top.
    2. Mark into bars by cutting into the lebkuchen about ¼ inch deep with a knife. Decorate, if desired, by placing 1 candied cherry in the center of each bar. And arrange 4 blanched almonds around each cherry.
    3. Let stand in the pan on a rack until completely cool and the icing is set. Using the overhanging parchment as handles, transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bars. If possible, let the cookies age for at least 2 weeks to allow the spices to ripen. Lebkuchen will keep for months in an airtight container.

    Excerpted from Joy of Cooking: 2019 Edition Fully Revised and Updated © 2019 by John Becker and Megan Scott. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

    Buy the full book from Amazon or Bookshop.


    Heat honey until thin do not boil. Mix in all other ingredients except icing. Turn onto floured board and knead until smooth, adding a little flour if necessary. Roll with a floured rolling pin to 1/2" thickness.

    Grease and flour a baking sheet and lay rolled dough on it. Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven about 20 minutes. Spread with icing while hot cool before cutting into rectangles.

    For Egg White Icing: Whip egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks. Add sugar and lemon and juice and continue beating until thick and glossy. Spread on cake or cookies with a spatula.

    • Bars:
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 C sugar
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1 t vanilla
    • 1/2 C melted butter
    • 1/4 C molasses
    • 1 1/4 C flour
    • 1 t cinnamon
    • 1/2 t allspice
    • 1/2 t nutmeg
    • a pinch of ground anise
    • 1 T cocoa
    • 1 C chopped almonds (optional)
    • glaze:
    • 1 1/2 C powdered sugar
    • warm milk

    Step 1

    Beat together the eggs, salt, vanilla, and sugar until light and fluffy (best if done with an electric mixer) Add the butter and molasses and thoroughly combine.

    Mix in the flour, cocoa and spices then fold in the almonds if using.

    Spread batter evenly in a 9" greased square baking pan.

    Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

    Prepare the glaze while the bars are still warm by mixing the powdered sugar with just enough water to make it a glaze texture.

    Pour over the bars while still warm.

    Serve from the pan while still warm or out of the pan once cooled and glaze has set.


    Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

    Heat the honey and butter in a small saucepan over a low heat until melted. Tip into a large mixing bowl and put in the fridge for 5 minutes.

    Remove the honey-butter mixture from the fridge and sieve in the remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. (The mixture will be sticky.) Return to the fridge for about 1 hour, or until completely cold.

    With damp hands, break off pieces of the dough and roll into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball. Transfer to the baking trays and flatten down slightly, leaving enough space between each lebkuchen to spread during cooking. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the lebkuchen has risen and are firm to the touch. Set aside to cool slghtly on the baking trays, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

    To make the sugar glaze, mix the icing sugar and water in a bowl. Dip one side of the lebkuchen into the glaze and return to the wire rack, icing side up, to set.

    Alternatively, to make the chocolate glaze, melt half the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over a simmering saucepan of water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. When the chocolate has almost melted, take the pan off the heat and add the remaining chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted. Dip one side of the lebkuchen into the chocolate and return to the wire rack, chocolate side up, to set.

    You can also use a combination of the icing and the chocolate glaze. Simply dunk one side of the lebkuchen in the icing and leave to set, before dunking the other side in the glaze and leave to set to completely.

    Recipe Tips

    To make shaped lebkuchen, wait until the dough has cooled but still soft. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 2.5cm/1in thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and bake as above. If your cookies are quite large they may need a few more minutes in the oven.

    To make filled lebkuchen, wait until the dough has cooled but still soft. Roll out on a dusted work surface to 2.5cm/1in thick. Dot the right-hand half of the dough with teaspoons of apricot jam, cherry jam or chocolate spread, ensuring there is space in between. Fold over the remaining dough and flatten with your hands around the dots of jam. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the shapes, ensuring the jam is in the centre of each cookie. Bake as above. If your cookies are quite large they may need a few more minutes in the oven.

    If you want to add decorations to your cookies, drizzle melted white chocolate or a thick sugar icing over the lebkuchen and top with sugar snowflakes for a fun finish.

    A bit of Lebkuchen History

    There are many possible origins of the name of these. Leb could come from leben, meaning life. Leb could come from lieben, meaning love. Leb could come from lebbe, meaning sweet. 

    Actually, all together, these make sense. A sweet

    life . a cake that's perfect to celebrate Christmas!

    For a bit more Lebkuchen history, check out this post .

    How to store Lebkuchen .

    Store these Lebkuchen cookies in a sealable container, with waxed paper between the layers of the cookies. Place half an apple on a piece of waxed paper on the top of the cookies. This will keep the cookies moist and actually impart a very light fruity aroma that makes these cookies so yummy. 

    As with many of the German cookies that are traditional for Christmas, these do taste better if they are allowed to 'age' . the spices mellow and the texture is amazing. Mind you, it's difficult to wait to enjoy these!

    Do make sure to wait until the glaze has hardened totally before storing the cookies. Even waiting a day before putting them into the cookie tins is a good idea. 

    Nurnberger Lebkuchen

    One of the oldest and most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe is the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg,Germany. The Christmas Angel opens this famous market on the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent and when it closes on Christmas Eve more than 2 million visitors will have browsed the almost 200 stalls and feasted on Nuremburger bratwurst, spicy lebkuchen and warm glühwein. It is impossible not to take away many souvenirs of this famous Medieval market and one of the favorites is “Nuremberg Prune People,” little people made from prunes with a walnut head. The stalls are made of wood and are festooned with red and white cloth, thus the Market name of “The Little Town from Wood and Cloth.

    Nuremberg Christmas Market

    I had the sweetest little grouping of prune people on my buffet every Christmas, but they
    eventually succumbed to Pacific Northwest winter humidity and little nutcrackers took their places.

    Lebkuchen has always been one of my favorite cookies, and in Nuremberg you can find many versions of
    this delicious German gingerbread. Some are iced with a powdered sugar glaze and some have chocolate and most are decorated with almonds.

    Most lebkuchen has a cakey texture like a traditional gingerbread, but my favorite is a chewy version,especially when it is warm out of the oven. Right inside the gate to the Old City you will find a small bakery that makes lebkuchen every morning. It is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted and I would make a trip back to Nuremberg at holiday time for this one thing alone. I know that the setting can make a difference in how much we enjoy something, like eating macarons in Paris, but there is nothing like warm, spicy, chewy lebkuchen on a cold December morning in Nuremberg.

    This recipe is from my mother’s files and it is good, but not my favorite. I’m looking for a chewier version and at first
    thought I wouldn’t post this recipe until I found just the right one, but that could take ages and I realized that maybe one
    of my German readers has the recipe I’m looking for. If anyone can help me with this I would be very grateful. I prefer the
    combination of ground almonds and hazelnuts and like to use the oblaten wafers because the cookies are easy to handle.

    Lebkuchen spice recipe - Recipes

    Last week, Sam had an excursion with some colleagues to celebrate a project they had been working on, which took him up to Kemmeriboden for a fall hike and then down to the Entlebuch to eat at wizard chef Stefan Wiesner’s restaurant.

    According to Sam the meal was incredible (as always, they don’t call Wiesner the wizard for nothing). He had a version of Wildteller that included the traditional preparation of Pfeffer, marinated game, using Gämse (known in English as Chamois, a mountain dweller somewhere between goat and antelope), but that was neither cloying or too sweet, as much Pfeffer can be, instead with a nice acidic bite. Perfect Spätzli accompanied the meal and for dessert, diners were treated to a spray of Arven (Swiss pine) as they were presented with similarly flavoured ice cream on a bed of lichen and pine nuts.

    Sam’s highlight, however, was the starter: deer sausage and a thick round of apple, perched on Lebkuchen, gingerbread.

    “Like, sweet gingerbread? Or savoury?” I queried.

    “Pretty sweet. And perfectly spiced. Almost exactly like Fabiana’s.”

    Fabiana’s Lözarner Lebkuchen, her Lucernese gingerbread, is a fan favourite among her five children, numerous grandchildren, and Sam’s family, who lived next door for over a decade.