December 23rd, 2017

Lebkuchen

[NOTE: Regulars here may remember that most years I put up a family Christmas recipe. And here it is again.]

This recipe was brought over from Germany sometime in the mid-1800s, and was my favorite of all the wonderful treats cooked by my great-aunt Flora, a baker of rare gifts. She and my great-uncle were not only exceptionally wonderful people, but to my childish and wondering eyes they looked very much like Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.

The name of the treat is lebkuchen, but it’s quite a different one from the traditional recipe, which I don’t much care for. This is sweet and dense, can be made ahead, and keeps very well when stored in tins.

Flora’s Lebkuchen:

(preheat the oven to 375 degrees)

1 pound dark brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
4 oz. chopped dates
1 cup raisins
1 tsp. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. lemon juice

Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon).

Beat the eggs and brown sugar together with a rotary beater till the mixture forms the ribbon. Add the orange juice, lemon juice, and extracts to it.

Add the dry mixture to it, a little at a time, stirring.

Add the raisins, dates, and walnuts.

Grease and flour two 9X9 cake pans. Put batter in pans and bake for about 25 minutes (or a little less; test the cake with a cake tester to see if it’s done). You don’t want it to get too dark and dry on the edges, but the middle can’t still be wet when tested.

Meanwhile, make the frosting.

Melt about 6 Tbs. of unsalted butter and add 2 Tbs. hot milk, and 1 Tbs. almond extract. Add enough confectioner’s sugar to make a frosting of spreading consistency (the recipe says “2 cups,” but I’ve always noticed that’s not exactly correct). You can make even more frosting if you like a lot of frosting.

Let cake cool to at least lukewarm, and spread generously with the frosting. Then cut into small pieces and store (or eat!).

Enjoy!

7 Responses to “Lebkuchen”

  1. William Graves Says:

    Thanks. I think I’ll try this.

    B

  2. Francesca Says:

    Sounds amazing. Thanks.

  3. Gringo Says:

    Having made it several times, I can inform others that it is delicious.

  4. vanderleun Says:

    In my experience, well-crafted traditional Lebkuchen is the only thing in the universe that has a greater density than a neutron star.

  5. mezzrow Says:

    @vanderleun

    Does it have its own gravitational field?

    (sounds like a possible measure of authenticity)

  6. AesopFan Says:

    mezzrow Says:
    December 23rd, 2017 at 9:56 pm
    @vanderleun

    Does it have its own gravitational field?
    * * *
    People are irresistibly attracted to it, does that count?

  7. Kevin Says:

    Thank you for the recipe, We took to the kitchen to give it a try and it came out just fine. It does exhibit one hell of a gravitational pull.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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