Friday, 30 December 2011

CC Lebkuchen

As the year draws to a close, I am very pleased to present you with Lebkuchen for the last in my year of the Cookbook Challenge.  I will reflect on the challenge at the end of the post but firstly let's talk bikkies.  These lebkuchen were excellent and made great gifts.  My only hesitation in posting them was that I wanted to try them with chocolate but we have so much rich food about the house leftover from Christmas that I can't justify any more baking right now. 

The chocolate lebkuchen will have to wait until next year.  It's a shame because I just know I would love them.  One of my favourite biscuits that I bought on my travels in Germany and have since found at speciality shops in Melbourne is chocolate covered gingerbread.  I like them even better than the thinly iced lebkuchen.  I planned to use a chocolate glaze such as the one suggested in the book (see pics in book above) but I have since seen that Homemade by Fleur covered hers with melted chocolate.  This makes more sense as I was concerned that the glaze would not set enough to store the biscuits.

Meanwhile I loved these biscuits.  Sylvia and I made two batches of biscuits for gifts.  Chocolate cut out cookies and Lebkuchen.  It was interesting to compare the two.  The chocolate biscuits were full of butter, made very soft dough and melted in the mouth.  The lebkuchen were more sturdy and equally delicious.  They had far less butter and were quite easy to work with once they had been in the fridge for 4 hours.

I was glad to leave the dough in the fridge until Sylvia was in bed.  She helped with getting the two batches of dough together but she was in a rascally mood.  She tasted cocoa (and cried at the taste), knocked an open jar of flour to the floor, and got Dolly's green dolly stuck in an empty spice jar.  It was far easier to cut out and bake the biscuits without her.  Much as I love her helping making gifts.

The biscuits were being made for Sylvia's child care workers who have looked after her all year.  I had planned to make them earlier so we could ice them but ran out of time.  The lebkuchen for the gift packs were uniced.  (To package, I put them in labelled ziplock bags inside the green bags that we decorated with lots of stickers.)  

One of Sylvia's carers was particularly delighted with the gift because it reminded her of spending weeks baking Christmas gifts with her mum when young.  We also packaged some for one of E's colleagues. 

The next day I thought it would be fun for Sylvia to help decorate the remaining biscuits.  She loved it.  To keep it simple we chose a colour for each biscuit and she sprinkled it after I iced it.  Somehow she ended up with a blue smile.  The icing gave them a wee lift but I think the combination of spices and citrus was the real genius of these bikkies.  On the first day they were a bit dry but they softened and took on that love dense gingerbread texture after a few days.  Simply scrumptious.

Back to the Cookbook Challenge.  I was quite tentative in joining this group which challenged us to cook from any cookbook using a different theme each fortnight.  I am delighted to have completed all 26 of the challenges.  I have recorded what I have cooked on my Cookbook Challenge page.

When I look back over the range of dishes I have cooked I am very grateful to the challenge for pushing me to try recipes that might otherwise have remained forgotten in the depths of my bookshelves.  I am just sad that the content on the community site has been removed and it seems that the challenge will not happen next year.


However I am sure there will be new challenges next year.  And I hope there might be some chocolate covered lebkucken.  Meanwhile I hope to squeeze in one more post next year if I can find time in between haggis and the tattoo.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Nut roast parcels and potato snowmen
This time two years ago: Christmas Day panforte and more
This time three years ago: Christmas, Leftovers and Vegan Mayonnaise
This time four years ago: Christmas dinner for two

Lebkuchen
From Annie Rigg's Christmas Cooking with Kids
Made about 42
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp treacle
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • zest of half an orange
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • generous grating of nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • icing or melted chocolate for frosting biscuits
  • sprinkles to decorate
Heat honey, treacle, butter, brown sugar and zests in a medium saucepan.  Stir until butter is melted and everything is well combined.  Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, place flour, spices, salt and almonds in a large bowl.  Add melted butter mixture and egg.  Stir until a ball of dough forms.  Briefly knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  Wrap in clingfilm and refridgerate for 4 hours.

When you are ready to cut biscuits, preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) and line 2 to 3 oven trays with baking paper.  Roll out dough on a floured surface until it is about 0.5cm thick.  Cut shapes with biscuit cutters and transfer onto prepared trays.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown (I found mine were quite well cooked after 15 minutes).  Cool on a wire tray.

When cool, either ice with a plain icing (I think I used about 1 cup icing sugar, a knob of butter and a bit of hot water - it needs to be quite thin) or melted chocolate and sprinkles.

On the stereo
Music to watch the girls go by: Various Artists

14 comments:

  1. What great little gifts to gift people. Sylvia looks like she had loads of fun too ;0)

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  2. Yum, they sound utterly delicious. I do love a good gingerbread bikkie!

    I'm always astounded at the patience you have with Sylvia - I hope I can be as patient with my children when I have them! (distant future...). I love her decorations though - very colourful!

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  3. Comfort food in a gift pack - what a thoughtful gift idea. Makes one feel all warm and toasty inside.

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  4. Your star biscuits look gorgeous. These would make excellent gifts. Happy New Year!

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  5. I've been so impressed with your dedication to this challenge! Life got int the way for me, but you powered through :) I love Lebkuchen, and I bet you could even twist my arm to try the chocolate version, no matter how much I turn away from chocolate desserts as a rule! :)

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  6. It's nice to see a recipe for these biscuits - I've only had them on occasion and like them a lot, but have never seen a recipe. The range of ingredients came as a surprise but I suspect adds to the tastiness of the final product.

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  7. Such a sweet idea for childcare workers. They look so pretty and colourful. Happy New year, looking forward to reading more posts in the new year!

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  8. Congrats on completing this year's cookbook challenge. I love the look of uour biscuits, and they are terrific gifts. LOL at Sylvia's blue smile. Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year!

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  9. I've heard a lot about lebkuchen but have never actually tasted them myself! Based on the ingredient list...and the fact that they have all my favorite spices...I want. And need.

    It's too bad there will be no cookbook challenge next year! It sounded like so much fun!

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  10. These Lebkuchen look wonderful! It made me smile that you know them from Germany and wrote the German word for gingerbread in your post title. :) This year, I've done some baking for Christmas as well, with my best friends, and it was great fun to make them.

    Happy New Year to you, Johanna! I'm excited which challenges will be going on in 2012! :D

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  11. Your lebkuchen look really good uniced and I bet they were well received. I wanted to make some this year, but didn't get around to it - like you I will wait for next year for some super duper chocolate covered ones - maybe! Sylvia's decorations look fun it sounds as though you made a good compromise, getting Sylvia involved with part of it but you able to get on with some of it in peace and quiet.

    Wishing you a very Happy New Year and hope 2012 turns out to be a really good year for you all.

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  12. Thanks Chele - yes Sylvia had loads of fun

    Thanks C - I am not always as patient as I would like but I enjoy Sylvia helping with baking - even if her understanding of it is far different to mine

    Thanks Joie - what nice things to say - unfortunately it is so hot here we are warm and toasty on the outside - much prefer it on the inside :-)

    Thanks Charlie louie

    Thanks Lisa

    Thanks Hannah - mmm chocolate covered gingerbread - and you could probably just use lemon and leave out the orange if that is your preference - I was glad I stuck with the cookbook challenge even though there were times I felt far behind with it

    Thanks Kari - I think there are many versions of these biscuits but I liked this one - though not like the packets from the supermarkets that I have been smitten with from time o time

    Thanks K - strangely enough last year I bought presents for child care workers and received presents from them that they had boughts - this year we exchanged home made presents - so much nicer

    Thanks Cakelaw - the blue smile made me laugh and I had to take her to show her in the mirror :-)

    Thanks Joanne - lebkuchen is very similar to gingerbread - I must check out some other lebkuchen recipes to see how typical this recipe is - highly recommend it

    Thanks Kath - I smiled at the photos of the lebkuchen at the christmas markets in your post after I had made mine - glad to have a little connection with your German Christmas

    Thanks Choclette - am sure Sylvia and I could have fun decorating some chocolate lebkuchen

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  13. I love the cookie bags you put together, so cute. :) I've never tried lebkuchen but am starting to grow curious about it.

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