Friday 22nd December 2017.
I love spicy and aromatic Lebkuchen cookies. My mum used to buy a special packet of them every year at Christmas from Sainsburys. The biscuits were small and in traditional shapes like trees, stars and hearts covered with a crisp royal icing and sprinkles. When I moved up to Yorkshire I discovered Betty’s own version of Lebkuchen cookies which they sell in their shop. The cookies are usually of a seasonal design and covered in a thin, white royal icing and finished with piping detail.
According to the recipe introduction Lebkuchen is “a classic German Christmas delight, these are a little bit like gingerbread, but with a deeper, more treacly and spiced flavour.”
It was the last day of term but as a supply teacher on day to day work I thought there would be no work available that day. Not only that, but with the last day of term being so close to Christmas Day I didn’t have enough time to get everything done. I normally make some foodie gifts for friends and family but this had to be cut down a lot this year. Anything I did make would have to be quick to make and bag up!
The recipe used a star cookie cutter but I chose to use another winter/ Christmas themed cutter, a mitten one. I’d not used that one before and thought with white details piped on then that would make the cookies look pretty.
To start with I heated runny honey, black treacle and sugar with some butter in a pan. When the sugar had disolved and the butter had melted I took the mixture off the heat while I weighed out and mixed the dry ingredients together.
In a large bowl I sifted self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger and some mixed spice together. This was combined with the melted butter mixture and then a beaten egg. I then added in some grated orange zest. Finally I could combine the dough in a ball. The dough had to be chilled in the fridge for about half an hour while I got on with other baking.
When the dough had chilled sufficiently I rolled it out to a 5mm thickness and cut out the mitten shapes. I lost count of how many mittens I cut out but there was enough to go on 3 baking trays. I can bake two trays of cookies at the same time so I had to put the 3rd tray in after the others had finished. The kitchen smelled wonderful. Baking gingerbread is one of my favourite smells of all time.
The cookies didn’t need long in the oven. They usually take about 12 minutes for me. When I took them out of the oven I left them on the tray before transferring them across to the wire rack. I bet if I didn’t, they would have fallen apart! Later on, when they were completely cooled I put them into a plastic box overnight until I was ready to decorate them.
The following day, which was Saturday I finally got round to icing the lebkuchen cookies. I chose to ice them differently instead of the traditional egg white, icing sugar and lemon juice mixture. Instead I made up royal icing so I could pipe on the details, like spots, stripes and zig zags, etc. I’m not really that confident at piping the icing on as sometimes I find the bag splits and the icing explodes all over the work top! I think I had three goes this time! Anyway I got there in the end.
After the cookies dried for a few hours I was able to put them into their gift bags and tie them with some pretty Christmas ribbon. There were two spare ones so I kept them back and ate them for my breakfast on Christmas Eve!
Love Sam xx