How to Make Christmas Lebkuchen
Lebkuchen are honey and spice cookies that are traditionally served in Germany during the Christmas holiday season. You can make Lebkuchen (LAYB-koo-kuhn) up to 3 months in advance, so you save time during the busier days around Christmas.
Specialty tools: Rolling pin
Preparation time: 3-1/4 hours; includes chilling
Baking time: 12 minutes
Yield: About 5 dozen
3-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seed
Zest of 1 large lemon, finely minced
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup finely ground almonds
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and toss with the salt. Separately, sift together the cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and mace, and toss with the anise seed and lemon zest.
In a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, honey, superfine sugar, and brown sugar and warm over low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Using a mixer, blend the butter mixture with the spice mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground almonds in two stages, blending well. Add the flour mixture in four stages, blending well after each addition. Stop occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Stir in the egg and blend thoroughly.
Gather the dough into a large rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut the chilled dough in half and keep one half in the refrigerator while rolling out the other half.
Roll out the dough between lightly floured sheets of wax paper to a large rectangle about 9 inches x 15 inches and 1/4-inch thick. Trim the edges of the dough evenly. Use a ruler to mark rectangles 2-1/2 inches long x 1-1/2 inches wide. Transfer the rectangles to the lined cookie sheet, leaving 1 inch between them. Gather any scraps together, reroll, and cut. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and use an offset spatula to transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 months.