Lebkuchen (Traditional german spiced cookies)

Oma’s Lebkuchen

I don’t know how I’m supposed to finish decorating MORE cookies. It’s 1.16 AM. Good night!

A photo posted by Cynthia (Chiew) Priest (@cynderbug) on

Last November, I had the privilege to learn from Oma on how to make her mother’s traditional Pfefferkuchen (another word for Lebkuchen) — it is quite the process, but it is well worth seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces anticipating the first bite into a soft spiced cookie, decorated with lemon glaze (which is basically fresh lemon juice and icing sugar). Lebkuchen also keeps well if you have to prepare your baking in advance.

What is Lebkuchen?

Lebkuchen (pronounced leb-ku-hen in German) is a kind of spiced gingerbread, but not all lebkuchen recipes contain the same proportion or types of spices. You *almost* could substitute food grade Ammonium Carbonate and Potassium Carbonate with Sodium Bicarbonate (commonly known as baking soda), but you will NOT get the same texture as the ultimate food chemical reaction’s results are different. If you live in Edmonton, you’re in luck as K & K Foodliner carries not only the spices you’d need for this recipe, but they also sell both food grade ammonium carbonate and potassium carbonate. If you don’t live in Edmonton, however, you can shop on K & K’s website and get your items delivered to you by post.

Dear Albertan residents, Cynful Kitchen did a very first CHRISTMAS GIVE-AWAY!

(Note: the winner will pick up the $25 gift certificate directly from K & K in Edmonton) Even if you don’t plan on buying Hirschhornsaltz or Potasche, you can find many delectable (already made/imported) lebkuchen or pfefferkuchen as well as chocolates and high quality bread, cheeses and meats. K & K has been around in Edmonton for over 50 years; if you haven’t been, you should go visit.

To enter the give-away, comment below on what your favourite family Christmas tradition is.
For an additional entry, follow me on Twitter AND Tweet among the lines of: Win a $25 gift cert from @kkfoodliner via @Cynderbug

EDIT: Give-away CLOSED on December 18, 2015, Friday at 6 PM MST. Winner is Cindy. Congratulations!

Disclosure: I am not being paid to host this give-away. Winner, selected by an online randomizer, will pick up directly from K&K Foodliner on 9944 82 Ave Edmonton, Alberta. I will be contacting you by email to let you know that you are the winner.

Comment moderation: All comments are moderated due to high volume of spam received. I highly encourage you to comment — once one of your comments is approved, your consecutive comments will show.

Meanwhile, you can look at the lebkuchen recipe here or by clicking the image below; detailed instructions can be found on the recipe link.

Lebkuchen (Traditional german spiced cookies)

Servings Prep Time
120cookies 0.5day
Cook Time Passive Time
10minutes 4.5days
Servings Prep Time
120cookies 0.5day
Cook Time Passive Time
10minutes 4.5days
  • 4lbs floursifted; not all flour needed
  • 4 eggsbeaten
Recipe Notes
  1. Melt margarine, add honey, cinnamon and cloves, lemon zest (all ingredients from Group A) in a huge pot. Let this mixture cool; mix well. Chill, but do not put in the fridge overnight as the mixture would harden. If this is the case, warm it on the stove and let the mixture cool again.
    Your mixture will be a dark golden brown colour.
    You definitely want your mixture cool to prevent scrambling your eggs!
  2. Add the beaten eggs to the pot.
  3. Dissolve the Hirschhornsaltz (Ammonium Carbonate) and Pottasche (Potassium Carbonate) in 3 to 4 tsps of water. (Do not breathe directly. The mixture will be stinky from the reaction of the ammonium carbonate.)
    Add directly to your pot.
  4. Add flour, one cup at a time, in your pot. Knead to stiff dough consistency. It must be well mixed to avoid lumps. When it becomes almost impossible to stir with a wooden spoon, go to step 5.
  5. Dust a little flour to the bottom of a large mixing bowl (a 5 to 6 quart bowl would work). Transfer your dough batter over.
  6. Fold half of your lebkuchen dough over to one side, lightly dust some flour (but not too much at once -- do not dump your flour) and continue kneading it. Alternate folding the other half of the dough batter and continue dusting and kneading. Keep dusting flour and kneading the dough on alternate half-sides until the dough batter stops being too sticky to the touch.
  7. Cover your lebkuchen dough with cling wrap. Let the lebkuchen dough rest for 2 to 4 days. Once the dough (flat on top) has domed between 3 to 4 days, the dough is ready.
  8. When your lebkuchen dough is ready to be rolled out to 1/8" to 1/4" thickness, use your favourite cookie cutters to cut them out. Make sure to place the same sized cookies on the same baking or cookie sheets as baking times would vary by the size of each cookie dough cut-out.
    Preheat 350°F oven (my oven was set to 340°F since mine is an electric fan convection oven)
    Note: You do not want to over-cook your cookies; the bottom of the cookie should be slightly golden brown, but the top of your cookie would not be golden brown.
    - mini cookies take about 6 to 7 minutes to finish baking.
    - 1.5 inch gingerbread men and stars took 8 minutes to cook.
    - 3 inch cookies took about 9 to 10 minutes to cook. After baking them, be sure to leave them on the cookie sheet for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring them to cool on cookie racks -- your cookie will continue 'baking' slightly on the sheet.

Last edited: Dec 18, 2015 at 18:00 MST to close contest. Draw will be done via an online random generator and winner will be contacted via email tonight.

38 thoughts on “Oma’s Lebkuchen”

  1. The women in my family have a tradition to meet a few weeks before Christmas and spend the whole day baking cookies. My favourite are my mom’s “melting moments” and “butter tarts”. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

  2. My favourite Christmas tradition is attending the Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church – and coming home to appetizers and cookies!

    1. Ah, that is a fun tradition! I miss decorating a tree with others.
      I love decorating cookies to Christmas songs in the background. My kitchen usually looks like a bomb ran through it during the process, ha, ha.

  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe Cynthia.
    My favourite Christmas tradition is to attend the Christmas Eve candlelight service at Robertson Wesley Church. It is simply awe inspiring to have the light dim in the church and then have everyone in the church light their candle from their neighbours candle as we sing Silent Night.

  4. My favourite Christmas tradition is opening the gift on Christmas Eve. I did it that way growing up and have continued it with my kids. We alwys go to church and when we come home Santa has deopped off the presents!

  5. What an interesting recipe! My family is scattered around the province but both of my boys say it’s not Christmas until I make and deliver my mom’s Lady Finger cookies!

  6. My favorite family tradition is just simply to be with my loved ones enjoying a beautiful meal together…laughing, sharing stories, listening to my dad play the guitar and my daughter playing the piano and we all sing along 😊

  7. I love reading about all the Christmas traditions, and I love your Lebkuchen recipe. My mom always made Lebkuchen, too, though I’m lazy and mostly make it in a loaf form myself. Your cookies are so cute! My favourite tradition is singing Christmas carols around our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve before we open our presents, which usually lasts late into the night.

    1. Thanks! I will have to try make your sprinkles for next Christmas to decorate the lebkuchen, Margaret.
      A loaf form! Interesting! I would love to see that! 🙂
      Ah, my husband’s family (the German side) does similar things where we sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve before having a gift exchange.

  8. Such great cookies and love the decoration on the trees, like a piece of art! It can be tough to find some ingredients. I guess one of my favorite traditions is opening a bottle of champagne to sip as we open our gifts, late on Christmas Eve.

  9. Growing up my mom would read us the Night Before Christmas on christmas eve right before bed time. She then passed the book on to my sister so she could read it to her kid!

  10. My favorite Christmas tradition is opening up our “Christmas Eve” box which consist of Pjs, Popcorn and a movie. The kids love it and they like having new pjs on the morning of Christmas:)

  11. I love having a winter Christmas (esp when I been having a brown xmas in Europe the last 2 yrs; it’s my favorite time of year. I enjoy celebrating this time of year with family/friends/love ones since it doesn’t matter where you are on the globe, it’s the people that makes it all that special. Nothing like sharing laughters, eating all the goodies, and taking the time to cherish people around you. In the past it’s been a tradition with friends to do baking. Have a very Merry Xmas All!

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