It’s okay to talk about Christmas now that December has begun. Here, Brixton food blogger Miss South introduces us to the delights of the German Lebkuchen
Christmas is coming! Which means you’re either running around like a headless chicken trying to do all your shopping or you’re cosied up indoors enjoying the season. Either way you’ll need a simple seasonal treat to see you through. Brixton may not have a German market (although it has every other sort) but don’t let that stop you from indulging in these traditional German biscuits or Lebkuchen.A spiced cookie similar to gingerbread, these are bursting with festive flavours and are the easiest thing in the world to make. Best of all, you can get everything you need to do so in the wonderful Nour Cash and Carry for about a third of the cost of popping to Tesco. So stock up and impress everyone this year with freshly baked biscuits in no time.
(Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food)
250g plain flour
85g ground almonds
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves, black pepper, nutmeg, mace, allspice (use all or just which ones you have)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml clear honey or 100ml honey and 100g dark brown sugar
1 lemon , finely grated zest
FOR THE ICING
100g icing sugar
1 egg white , beaten
Preheat your oven to 200C and melt the butter, honey and sugar together on the stove. Measure your dry ingredients into a large bowl and then add the liquid when completely melted. Combine together well until a slightly fudgy dough. This should take about 5 minutes.
Pinch off walnut sized pieces of the dough, roll into a ball and then flatten out on a lined baking tray, leaving enough room to spread out slightly. The dough should yield about 30 cookies so you’ll probably only be able to bake half at one time. Cover the dough to stop it drying out in this case. You can also freeze the cookies and simply cook for a minute or two longer when needed. Just put some greaseproof paper between them when freezing.
You want to cook the biscuits until golden and still slightly soft so check after 10 minutes but don’t be surprised if they need up to 15 minutes. Leave them on the tray for about 2 minutes to firm slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes so you can ice them.
The icing is firmer with the egg white and less likely to drip, but if it’s a waste of an egg for you, just mix the icing sugar into a stiffish paste with some water and use that instead with the back of a teaspoon or a pastry brush. Allow to dry for a moment or two and then get stuck in!
These are equally good with a cup of tea as with some mulled wine. They are soft and chewy, thanks to the almonds, with a warming tingle of spice than knocks the shopbought ones into a cocked hat. Simple enough to make with the kids, they’ll impress everyone this Christmas and keep well in a tin if you happen to have any leftover. I have a feeling they’ll be a Christmas tradition in your house year after year…