After I mentioned in a pre-Christmas column that I make lebkuchen to send to my mother for the holidays, reader Mary Ann Galster — who wrote that she has been making lebkuchen for more than 40 years, and sends it to relatives in North Dakota and Texas — emailed to ask if I’d be willing to share the recipe.
I’m doing that now. I have no idea of the source; it has been in my family for decades (it’s old enough that the original version calls for “strained” honey), and I suspect my paternal grandmother, a phenomenal cook and dedicated recipe collector, clipped it from a newspaper.
Those familiar with this traditional German cookie will know it’s somewhat of an acquired taste. I hated these cookies as a kid, and can barely tolerate them as an adult. But I discovered this Christmas that three millennial members of the family find them quite appealing, so maybe it’s the sort of thing that skips generations. I’ve also noticed that since there’s no butter or other fat except what’s in the egg yolk, it’s a relatively healthy cookie.
At any rate, here’s the recipe. I’ve cut it in half, because the entire recipe makes quite a lot. It calls for citron and candied orange peel; I usually use fruitcake mix, as my mother did. But you could use any combination of candied or dried fruits.
2/3 cup honey
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
3 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt
¼ pound blanched and slivered almonds
2 ounces candied citron
2 ounces candied orange peel
Boil honey, sugar and water for 5 minutes. Cool.
Mix flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Add to honey mixture. Beat egg slightly; add to other mixture. Add almonds and fruits. Mix well.
Roll out ¼ inch thick, adding more flour if needed. Cut into rectangles roughly 1 by 3 inches.
Place on a greased pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, or until slightly browned on bottom. When cool, frost with icing made of confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and water or milk.
— Recipe from Las Vegas Review-Journal files
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