Traditional gingerbread cookies, in German they are called Lebkuchen, and in French Pain d’épices, what is a gingerbread loaf. Spices like cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and molasses give gingerbread that spicy, sweet, gingery, pungent, intense flavor. The baking of gingerbread cookies is simple, however, baking takes adjusting and measuring, and over time the lessons I learned with baking are very simple, OBEY and follow the recipe. Cooking is a different animal, you can “wing” it and to be honest, there are a lot of recipes that I cook where I don’t use measurement cups, measurement spoons, or scales, everything is done by feel and taste.
Baking around Christmas
Around Christmas, my mind is always drawn to baking, maybe because baking is something that brings back memories, tastes, and smells; all symbols of pleasure, comfort, and traditions. What kind of a holiday would Christmas be without the warm aromas of weihnachtsgeback and konfekt? For me, baking is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. It takes some time to garnish the cookies, however, it’s time well spent.
Decorating German Christmas Cookies
For the decorating of the gingerbread cookies, I’m using Wafer Paper, creating edible masterpieces. All are reproductions of vintage postcards printed on translucent sheets of dehydrated potato starch. These images create a beautiful work of edible art and are memorable holiday gifts.
My Home Town:
Baking gingerbread cookies or Lebkuchen is a time-honored tradition for many families in Germany that goes back to the 14th century. During this time, gingerbread was something of extremely high value because a lot of the spices used to make gingerbread were hard to come by and honey was expensive. At one stage, the value of Lebkuchen was so high that it was used as a currency. Christmas time in Germany is a magical time. The streets are brimming with lights and nativity scenes can be seen throughout the town.
The prized image below is from the town where I was born.
The building on the right is City Hall and just around the corner was the school. The building straight ahead is the doctor’s office, this is where I got my broken arm fixed and put in a cast when I was a child. An interesting historical fact about the town, the community was donated in 768 under the name Husun to the Lorsch Abbey.
How To Bake Perfect Old Fashioned Gingerbread Cookies
- Gingerbread dough
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar light
- 1 1/2 cups molasses light
- 4 each egg yolks
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp ginger ground
- 4 tsp cinnamon ground
- 2 tsp allspice ground
- 1/2 tsp cloves ground
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- Simple icing
- 2 1/4 cups confection sugar sifted
- 2 tbsp corn syrup light
- 2 1/2 tbsp milk
- Royal icing
- 1 each egg white pasteurized
- 11 ounces confection sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Make the dough
- Beat together at medium speed the butter, brown sugar, and molasses until fluffy, for about 4 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, combine the flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, cloves, and salt. Sift the flour mixture directly into the butter mixture. Reduce the mixer speed and mix at medium speed until combined. Gather dough into a ball, it will be soft. Form dough into 6 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate overnight.1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups molasses, 4 each egg yolks, 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 4 tsp ginger, 4 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1 tbsp baking soda
Cut the cookies
- Working with one dough disk at a time, keeping the rest chilled, roll dough on a lightly floured surface into ¼ inch thickness. Use a knife cut dough into 2 x 4 inches rectangular cookies.
Bake the cookies
- Preheat oven to 350F. With a spatula transfer cookies to the baking sheet, spacing about 1/4 inch apart. Bake cookies for 8 minutes until slightly firm in the center and lightly colored on top. Transfer baked cookies to a wire rack and let rest until cooled.
Make the simple Icing
- Mix all of the ingredients together. Stir until smooth; a fork works fine. The glaze should be thick, but soft enough to "settle" when you spread it. If the glaze is too thick, dribble in a little more milk.2 1/4 cups confection sugar, 2 tbsp corn syrup, 2 1/2 tbsp milk
- Pipe a border around the edge of the cookie and fill it with Icing. Allow the iced cookies to try overnight.
Glue wafer paper to the cookie
- Using a pair of Scissors cut the wafer cookie sheet into 2 x 4-inch sheets. Use a small brush, coat the entire back of the wafer paper image with light corn syrup. Make sure the edges are covered well. Be careful not to get the corn syrup on the image because splotches will show up. Gently paste the wafer paper image on the dry cookie, wiggle it into place so it aligns perfectly on the cookie. Press down the edges repeating the process a few times until the edges stay "glued" down
- Place a paper towel over the surface of the cookie and gently smooth the wafer paper one more time Turn the cookie over on a piece of wax paper and let sit for about 10 minutes. Turn cookie back over and allow to dry completely. Once the cookie is dry you can pipe decorative borders
Make the royal Icing for decorative cookie border
- Using a hand mixer beat the egg white in a bowl. Beat until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and lemon juice at low speed until it looks shiny and it forms stiff peaks - takes approx. 5-7 minutes. With a small tip decorate cookies edges with royal icing. Let dry for a few hours so Royal icing can set1 each egg white, 11 ounces confection sugar, 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- Once Icing is dry store cookies in an airtight container. Cover the container holding your soft, chewy cookies tightly. This container should be completely airtight, as this will help the cookies maintain their intended
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate