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German Gingerbread (Lebkuchen) recipe

German Gingerbread (Lebkuchen) recipe

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  • Dish type
  • Cake
  • Classic cakes
  • Ginger cake

An excellent recipe for gingerbread. Perfect any time of the year, especially around Christmastime.

11 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 1 tube cake

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 440g dark brown soft sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 225g honey
  • 4 tablespoons orange flavoured liqueur
  • 250ml soured cream
  • 125ml orange juice
  • 215g plain flour
  • 125g wholemeal flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 150g raisins
  • 110g flaked almonds

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:1hr20min ›Ready in:1hr35min

  1. Beat the flours, baking powder and spices together.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the dark brown soft sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the honey, orange liqueur, soured cream and orange juice. Beat the flour mixture into the creamed mixture and then stir in the raisins and almonds. Turn batter into a greased and floured tube cake tin.
  3. Bake cake at 180 C / Gas 4 for 80 minutes or until it tests done with skewer. Transfer to a rack to cool.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(21)

Reviews in English (16)

by Lyndsay Bodily

My husband and kids loved this bread! I substituted applesauce for the butter and egg beaters for the eggs, it was just delicious! I also cooked it in two loaf pans, so I'd be able to share!-29 Nov 2006

by Lisa

We weren't sure to use dark or light brown sugar. We chose light and it turned out great! We put a bit of whipping cream on when we served it.-11 Dec 2005

by Syllables34

Spactacular recipe! I didn't change anything except for not adding the almonds. This tastes excellent just the way it is. I took it to my son's preschool for a special snack and it was loved! I am making it again for Christmas right now. Only note I have to leave is that I used loaf pans and it definitely makes more than two! It overflowed all over, so now I am making it into four loaves, two cups of batter each. We'll see how it turns out!-23 Dec 2007

Having grown up in Germany it’s the Christmas season when I get the most homesick. The snowy landscapes, the decorations, the Christmas markets, and all the delicious Christmas goodies…you just can’t beat Christmas in Germany. One of Germany’s most famous Christmas treats (and one of my personal favorites), is Elisenlebkuchen, and that’s the German Lebkuchen recipe we’re sharing today.

Lebkuchen go all the way back to 14th century Germany where they were created by Catholic monks. Prepared in monastery bakeries, Lebkuchen included honey, a variety of spices and nuts. These ingredients not only had symbolic religious meaning but were highly prized for their healing properties. Those clever monks not only created an exceptionally delicious sweet treat, they found an additional use for their communion wafers: They increased the diameter size and used them as the base for the sticky gingerbread dough – a perfect solution.

A quintessential sweet treat throughout all of Germany during the Christmas season, Lebkuchen is one of the most popular and beloved of all German holiday confections. There are a variety of German Lebkuchen, each distinguished by slight alterations in ingredients and most especially the amount of nuts used. But the most highly prized of all are the Nürnberger Elisenlebkuchen. The title is a regionally protected one and only Lebkuchen produced in Nürnberg can be sold as such. The distinguishing characteristic of the Elisenlebkuchen is that they use no flour and have a very high ratio of nuts, specifically a combination of almonds and hazelnuts.

Nürnberg, Henkersteg (Hangman’s Bridge, original construction in 1457)

Nürnberger Christmas Market

How to Make German Gingerbread Cookies – Step-by-Step

If you’d like to make this German gingerbread cookie recipe, you can check out the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

For those who want to see all the steps as you go, you can follow the Lebkuchen process photos with instructions below. This way, you’ll know whether or not you’re on the right track as you bake!

This gingerbread recipe seems like it has many, many steps but it’s actually pretty easy. The trickiest part is getting the right ingredients together in advance.

You can make some of the ingredients used in this recipe beforehand if you don’t/can’t buy them. We’ll point out which “special ingredients” you can make at home in the steps below and link to the recipes to make them!

We’ll start by chopping up the nuts as well as orange and lemon peel. This works best if you have a food processor or mixer that can handle nuts.

If you don’t have a food processor, you could also buy pre-ground nuts and chop the lemon/orange peel with a knife.

The texture would be slightly different, but it should still work – just remember to use slightly less (approx. 1 cup each) when using already ground nuts! Disclaimer: We’ve not tried it with pre-ground nuts yet – so let us know how it goes if you do!

Start by adding the nuts into your food processor.

Also add the candied orange and candied lemon peels. These are two of the ingredients that you can either buy in-store (if you can find them) or that you can make at home (we think it tastes better that way).

For those located in Canada: You can often find candied peel at Bulk Barn.

If you want to make the candied peel yourself at home, you can follow our candied lemon peel recipe and candied orange peel recipe to see exactly how we made ours.

In just a few steps, it’s actually really easy to candy the peels on the stovetop. It does take a while for the peels to dry though, so keep that in mind!

Once you have added the hazelnuts, almonds, candied lemon peel and candied orange peel, put the lid on and chop everything.

Make sure that there are no overly large pieces of nuts or peel left – but you don’t have to chop it overly fine. See the photo above for reference.

Once you are happy with the consistency of your nut and fruit mixture, set the container aside.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl.

Then add the sugar and honey. Mix everything with the normal hooks of your electric mixer until you have a creamy mixture that has some bubbles and is less yellow in color.

Once you’re happy with the consistency, set your mixer aside. Now it’s time to add the cinnamon and gingerbread spice.

You can buy gingerbread spice at the store, but depending on where you live it might be difficult to find – or quite expensive.

It’s actually not difficult to make your own gingerbread spice at home. You can give it a try with our gingerbread spice mix recipe!

Also add the chopped up fruit and nuts and fold them into the egg mixture using a spatula or large spoon.

Mix until everything is well combined.

At this time also line your baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now it’s time to place your dough onto the parchment paper. Use one heaping tablespoon of dough per gingerbread cookie. Then take two spoons to shape the dough into a flat circle.

Make sure to leave some space between the cookies as they will expand slightly in the oven.

Bake your cookies on the medium rack of your oven for around 15-20 minutes.

They should be slightly brown at the top but also still slightly soft to the touch. This way they will be soft and chewy on the inside once cooled.

Once your cookies are done baking, remove them from the oven and place them on a cooling rack to fully cool.

When your gingerbread cookies are fully cooled, you can prepare the glaze. We usually like to cover half of the gingerbread cookies with chocolate and half of the cookies with a white icing sugar.

For the chocolate glaze we like using a semi sweet baking chocolate to give the cookies their rich chocolatey coat.

Melt your baking chocolat ein a shallow, wide bowl in the microwave. We like using a shallow bowl that is a bit wider because that makes it easy to dip the top of the cookies in later.

If you don’t have a microwave, you can also heat the chocolate on low heat in a pot on the stove.

Once your chocolate is melted, take a gingerbread cookie and dip the top into the chocolate.

You might want to move the cookie around slightly to make sure that the whole top is covered.

Then carefully turn the chocolate covered cookie over and place it back on the cooling rack.

We’d recommend placing some parchment paper under the cooling rack so you can easily capture any drips!

Then repeat the process until you have coated as many gingerbread cookies in chocolate as you want.

The amounts in the recipe card below are for 9 chocolate covered cookies. So if you want all of your gingerbread cookies to be covered in chocolate (and spic the icing sugar glaze), then you’d obviously need slightly more baking chocolate!

For the white glaze, mix powdered sugar with a bit of water and mix everything with a spoon until there are no more lumps.

You’ll want the consistency to be quite thick so that the cookies will get a nice glaze.

Then, similarly to the chocolate coat, dip the top of the gingerbread cookies into the glaze and move them around a bit until the whole top is covered.

Then carefully flip the cookie over and place it on the cooling rack.

Now you just have to be patient and wait until the glaze has fully hardened. And then enjoy your German Lebkuchen!

These cookies probably won’t last long, but we’d still recommend that you store them in an airtight container with a lid a cool and dry place (for example your garage or basement).

German Gingerbread (Lebkuchen) recipe - Recipes

This recipe features a very special, super-fast and extremely delicious Lebkuchen (German gingerbread) recipe for you. I promise, you will fall in love with this authentic German Lebkuchen recipe!

Did you know that Lebkuchen are dating back to the 14th century? And they have stood the test of time as one of Germany’s most popular and beloved of all Christmas treats!

You can have your own homemade gluehwein and lebkuchen ready in less than 1 hour. And that includes the baking time!

Authentic German Gingerbread Recipe

As with most legends surrounding old recipes the origins of this one are vague, but it is believed the word ‘Lebkuchen’, which is German gingerbread, comes from either ‘lebbe’, very sweet in old German, or ‘libum’, cakes in Latin, however it is known that as “Honigkuchen”, Honey cake, it was a favorite in 1500 BC Egypt.

Lebkuchen is a German cookie especially popular during the autumn and winter, for “Oktoberfest” Hearts as well the Christmas and New Year celebrations, but it used to be placed on the graves of Egyptian kings.

Its present incarnation began in Belgium, traveled to the German city of Aachen around the 13th century, where it was known as Pfefferkuchen and, as with many things in those days, there the gingerbread recipe was further developed by monks and nuns. Then during the 14th century it arrived in Bavaria at a Nuremberg monastery, and in 1409 it had a new name, “Lebkuchen”.

Gingerbread is still hand shaped and decorated in many bakeries, following the “one pot one bowl” recipes passed down through generations, which are usually fat free and, although the main ingredients of honey, molasses, flour, sugar, eggs and mixed spices remain the same, often nuts, candied citrus fruit, dried fruits and marzipan are added as well as a covering of chocolate instead of icing.

This is an authentic recipe for a basic hard gingerbread, which not only makes a delicious cookie it is also ideal for building aHexenhaus, the “Witch’s Cottage” of brothers Grimm “Hansel and Gretel” fairytale fame, an Oktoberfest Heart, Gingerbread Men, Honigkuchenpferd, (Honey cake horse), or decorations for the Christmas tree.



3/4 cup softened, but not warm, unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar (cane sugar adds extra flavor)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup honey
2 medium eggs, beaten
3 to 4 cups flour (All purpose or 2/3 wheat 1/3 rye)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

(Instead of the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves the same quantity of a ready made spice mix such as Pumpkin or Gingerbread, or easily made traditional German Speculaas or Gingerbread spice mixes, can be used.)

Place butter and sugar into a large bowl and cream the mixture until it becomes light and fluffy.
Add spices and zests, beating until they are incorporated.
Heat molasses and honey until boiling and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Add molasses mixture to butter stirring constantly, then beat in the eggs and combine thoroughly.
Sift 3 cups flour, soda and salt together and stir into mixture.
Stirring, add as much of the remaining flour as needed to get a soft but not sticky dough.
Shape into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.

Chill at least overnight so the flavors can develop, as well as making it easier to handle. Can be left for three days.

Roll out the dough about 1/3-inch thick.
Using cutters or freehand, cut the dough into whatever shapes you have in mind.
If they are to be Christmas tree decorations or Oktoberfest hearts don’t forget to make holes for the ribbon or twine.
Brush with the lightly beaten white of an egg.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes well spaced out on a greased sheet or baking paper, they will spread, and take care not to allow the edges to brown.

Lebkuchen are a sheet cookie which are often served just as they are without any decoration, but they are also decorated with frosting, melted chocolate or slivered almonds.

For Oktoberfest Hearts, Christmas decorations or Gingerbread Men…… wait until completely cooled and decorate with a piped stiff royal icing, made from a mixture of slightly beaten egg whites, a little lemon juice and confectioner’s (powdered or icing) sugar added gradually until the icing becomes stiff and can stand in peaks.
Edible coloring can be added once the mixture has bound together.

For Cookies…..for a softer topping, brush with a Lemon Glaze made from
1 egg white
1.1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s (powdered or icing) sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

In a small bowl with mixer or by hand, beat egg white, powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth.
Brush onto still warm cookies, and if liked they can then be decorated with diced mixed candied fruits and peels.

A little trick which makes sure your stored gingerbread stays, or becomes, soft is to place a sheet of baking paper with some apple skins on top of the cookies, and store them in an airtight container.

Guten Appetit!…….Enjoy your Lebkuchen

Source: Bella Online
Photos by Caro Wallis and Aureusbay via flickr

Rolling and Cutting the Dough

The dough will be fairly sticky so I recommend chilling it first to make rolling it easier. To speed up the cooling process and make the dough easier to roll out, I divide the dough into four portions and place each between two sheets of parchment. Then, I use the rolling pin to flatten the dough into a thinner disc (about 1/4 inch thick) before transferring it to the fridge or freezer to chill thoroughly.

To roll out the dough, I dust the work area with flour before adding the chilled dough disc. A little sprinkling of flour on top of the dough also helps to keep the rolling pin from sticking. Then I roll the lebkuchen dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cutting out shapes is easiest if you dip the cookie cutter in flour first as it will prevent the dough from sticking.

I’ve only ever seen my mom cut out circles from this dough and add a few nut pieces in the center after placing them on baking sheets. However, the dough holds up well to any cutout shape. Since lebkuchen is a German gingerbread cookie, I like making gingerbread men shapes from it.

Lebkuchen: German Gingerbread Cookies

A few weeks ago I teamed up with my wonderful Instagram friend Eva (@gingerbychoice) to do a Christmas collaboration. Suffice to say I pounced on the idea. As a self professed germanophile and Christmas junkie it I found that it was the perfect fit for me, as I firmly believe that there are 11 months to a year and then there’s the Holidays. In fact I’m so smitten by the Holidays that my mom and I built a business (a rather successful bakery for that matter) out of it, in my wonderful hometown of Bogota, Colombia.

By the way check out her beautiful blog here and her Instagram feed here

Christmas traditions

I had an amazing childhood, growing up in what most people would consider a cultural hodgepodge home. My mother is a Spaniard, who happened to go to the German school and has ingrained all sort of German traditions, my father a practicing Sephardic jew of Turkish and Belgian origin. Add to the mix my favorite uncle, a Hungarian-Swedish, determined to bring his yuletide traditions, and you end with a fantastic array of foods, celebrations and general good cheer that carried on for a bit over a month. Truth be told, I don’t really know how we managed to make everything work so seamlessly, but we did.

Let me illustrate what our Holidays look like. Hanukkah usually comes first, eight days of presents, family, food and the delight of lighting candles, which I’m a sucker for. Next, or sometimes during depending on the Jewish calendar, comes “El día de las velitas” (which translates to the Day of Candles, a Colombian Holiday where everyone hits the streets to light candles with their neighbors), then it’s time for “the Novena” (another Colombian tradition where we get together to celebrate, pray, eat, drink, sing, pull pranks on each other, and be generally merry during the 9 days prior to Christmas). That means that by now we have celebrated for at least 17 days when it’s time for Christmas, and boy do we go all out, the buffet and amount of presents under, around, close to and sometimes even far from away from the tree are obscene and all I can say about the decorations is that I think my mom tries to compete with Macy’s every year.

By the time New Year’s Eve shows up we are several pounds heavier, but all the happier. Luckily Colombian traditions include packing a bag, and lapping around the neighborhood with it at 12pm to ensure you travel plenty next year, I tend to think the tradition actually sprung from the necessity to aid with digestion. Last but certainly not least is “Reyes” or Epiphany. Celebrated January 6, it’s the day when Spanish kids get their presents from the Three Wise Men.

All of this to illustrate the amount of amazing food we have, but out of all delicious treats, there is one I particularly love: LEBKUCHEN. Not only are they seriously delicious, but their history is quite fascinating.

When German Crusaders came back from the Orient, they brought home a bounty of spices, including but not limited to ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Spices became all the rage in the Middle Ages. Not only were they highly appreciated for their flavor but for their healing and food preserving properties as well. During medieval times people actually regarded food as medicine and as way to keep themselves healthy. Spices played a key role. (If you would like to read more on medieval food and etiquette check out this post : ).

Fast forward a couple of centuries, to a period when sugar became more widely available, spices made their way into the dessert and sweets realm in the form of Lebkuchen. However these sweets were considered to be such an elegant delicacy that there were laws prohibiting them from being made by anybody that was not a certified member of the newly created Lebkuchen guild. The recipe was so zealously guarded that only the city of Nuremberg had and official guild. As time passed and spice prices went down, people started trying to copy the aromatic cookie in their homes. Variations started popping up all over Europe, like Pepparkakor or Gingersnaps in Sweden, Gingerbread in Switzerland where cookies began being cut into boy and girl shapes in honor of Hansel and Gretel, or Pain d’Epices in France amongst others.

Yet the discovery of the New World introduced a key ingredient that revolutionized Lebkuchen forever, chocolate. This is definitely the moment when Lebkuchen production exploded. In fact Lebkuchen were so highly appreciated that they were a suitable wedding gift and people could pay their taxes with them. Yes, they are that delicious. And while I don’t think the IRS takes Lebkuchen as payment these days or that your best friend asked for some in her wedding registry, I am pretty sure you and your family will love this recipe.

Ingredients German Simple Lebkuchen

(makes about 36 pieces)

3 eggs
200 g sugar
500 g honey (warm slightly until honey is liquid)
2 tsp Lebkuchen spice
3 tbsp raisins
30 g Orangeat – How to make Orangeat and Zitronat – and 30 g Zitronat (candied peel of lemons and oranges)
TIP: alternatively use chopped almonds or almonds instead of raisins and candied peel
500 g flour
1/2 package baking powder Dr Oetker, 0.3oz

For the Glaze
150 g powdered sugar
2 tbsp dark rum (optional)
1 tbsp hot water
150 g almond halves, blanched

Lebkuchen or “ginger bread” is a very typical Christmas dessert in Germany, and one that is delicious! This cake-like cookie is one that can be found in various locations, especially in the Christmas markets.


1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

½ teaspoon ground anise (1 g)

1 teaspoon ground cloves (2 g)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (2.5 g)

1 teaspoon baking powder (5 g)

3 tablespoons of milk (50 g)

1 egg white (preferably pasteurized)

2 tablespoons of lemon juice (30 g)


  • For the cookies
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Soften the butter and add the sugar, vanilla, egg, yolk, & honey
  • Mix the flour with the baking powder, cocoa powder and the spices, sift and add to the previous mixture little by little alternating it with the tablespoons of milk. Add the rest of the flour until there is a smooth dough. Do not over knead. If it was a bit sticky put it in the fridge for a while.
  • Stretch the dough with a rolling pin until it is ½ cm thick and cut the biscuits.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • allow them to cool completely before decorating
  • For the Icing
  • Beat egg white with sifted powdered sugar and the lemon juice so that it is a thick but liquid mass with an electric mixer until it has a heavy cream consistency, add a few more drops of lemon juice or powdered sugar if needed.
  • Decorate cookies as desired.
  • *You could also alternately dip the cookies in melted dark chocolate instead

Recipe Video

The festive European Christmas Markets

I can’t help but reminisce about a river cruise we took in November and December with AmaWaterways. Starting in Budapest, we floated up the Danube, disembarking to visit glittering Christmas Markets in Germany and Austria and ending in the gorgeous city of Prague. Stops included Melk, Vienna, Passau, Linz, Regensburg, Nürnberg, and a side trip to Salzburg.

Vendors with German Gingerbread, sausages, dark chocolate, festive decorations, and yummy treats were everywhere set against old-world buildings and cathedrals.

What is Lebkuchen? It is German gingerbread. This isn’t quite a gingerbread cookie that you and I are familiar with but more of a soft gingerbread like cookie made with honey, almonds, and marmalade.

My Oma and Opa would send us kids authentic Lebkuchen cookies from Germany during Christmas time, both the original flavor and chocolate. I can also remember those beautiful and large heart shaped Lebkuchen which are harder but oh so iconic and nostalgic.

Here is a little history on these awesome little cookies. Lebkuchen’s earliest record of being baked was around the 13th century in a few cities in Germany but became the most famous exporter from Nuremberg, Germany. Back then, these cakes were called honey cakes. According to mythology, honey was thought to be a gift from the Gods and these cakes were perceived as such. They were such a great commodity that these cakes were used as currency at one time. Oh how I wish that was still the case!

I stated above that you can have two different kinds, ones glazed with lemon icing or chocolate variety. Some of the comments I have seen about my German cookies are that the lemon icing doesn’t work for them. And that is okay, just go with a chocolate or simply plain white icing without the added lemon juice.

Cost to make recipe.

This recipe is a One Acre Vintage Homestead – Pumpkin Patch Mountain Homestead original recipe. All images and texts are original to this website and blog.

Lebkuchen – German Gingerbread cookie is part of our World Cuisine Recipe Series.

Watch the video: Lebkuchen. Waitrose u0026 Partners (January 2022).