Baking / Free from / vegetarian

Get ready for Christmas: Lebkuchen

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Today’s the day I’m going to tell you the recipe for my friendly little gingerbread-esque men in my profile picture. It’s time. Time for lebkuchen. For the uninitiated, it’s a sort of soft, spiced German gingerbread that smells and tastes of Christmas and makes everybody very happy indeed.

I made my first batch of the year last week for the DRESS charity event I mentioned in my last post – probably a little early but I cleverly disguised them in pink glitter and I didn’t hear anyone complaining! You can cut them into any shape you like – I usually go for gingerbread men or stars – but avoid intricate shapes as the dough spreads and puffs out quite a bit in the oven (I made a little bear with leftover dough last year and he came out of the oven looking like a giant balloon with a teeny tiny head and limbs – you have been warned).

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Whether you ice ’em, glaze ’em or leave ’em au naturel, these squidgy, spicy burnished beauties will fly off the plate quicker than you can say ‘Brussels sprouts’.

p.s. Two more sleeps until Advent! Watch this space for edible tree decorations…

Lebkuchen

Makes about 40, depending on the size of your cutters

Ingredients:

– 100g treacle
– 100g runny honey
– 175g dark brown soft sugar
– 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
– 1 large egg (free-range please)
– 350g plain flour, sifted
– 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
– 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

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Method:

In a saucepan on a medium high heat, bring the treacle and honey to the boil. Take off the heat and stir in the sugar, lemon juice and egg until incorporated.

Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a bowl and stir together. Add the hot ingredients and mix until you have a soft uniform dough.

Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to firm up a little.

[Have a large glass of wine.]

Preheat the oven to 180Β°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Roll out the dough onto a floured surface to about 1/2cm thick, cut out the lebkuchen and place on your baking tray about 3 centimetres apart. Tip: The lebkuchen spread so leave enough room between them to avoid morphing!

Bake for about 8 minutes, until just firm on top. Tip: These are very easy to overbake as they firm up as they cool too so be careful! If yours are too crispy, put a slice of fruit (apple, orange and lemon all work well) into a tin with them and this will help them soften up a bit.

Allow to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes and then carefully transfer to wire rack. Yum.

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Source: Recipe and photos by pip & little blue.

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