A few weeks ago a dear friend of mine sent me a box of cookbooks. Included in that box was a book of German recipes, and contained therein was a recipe for Lebkuchen different from the one I’m used to making.
So I thought I’d make a batch.
I used some of the candied orange and lemon peel that I made for the other Lebkuchen recipe.
I used some of the same spices – cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg – and almonds.
And, of course, as the title to this post would suggest, honey.
A whole cup of it. And mine is local. My goat milk guy makes it. So yummy!
But I’m getting ahead of myself, as usual.
First thing you need to do is prepare your pan. Because instead of baking these like cookies, where you either cut out or scoop out the dough…this recipe creates a batter, more cake-like than cookie-like, and you need to pour it.
So – butter and flour your jelly-roll pan, if you have one (I don’t), or whatever your largest sheet pan with a lip happens to be. Mine is something like 12 x 18, so it’s a smidge bigger than jelly-roll size. I also put in a layer of parchment, just to make sure nothing stuck.
Then it’s time to
make a big mess mix your ingredients. Much like any other cookie recipe, you sift together all the dry ingredients and set them aside, then you beat your eggs with your sugar (and honey, in this case). We’ve also got milk in the recipe. Then you blend in the dry ingredients and, finally, stir in the ground almonds and the citrus peel.
Here’s how the batter – definitely not dough – will look at this point.
Pour this into/onto your prepared pan and spread it out with a spatula. The batter won’t be very thick. Or deep, really.
Then you bake it in a 400F oven for about 15 minutes. I rotated the pan once about halfway through.
While the cake was still warm I removed it from the pan and mixed together the glaze – very simple, just confectioners’ sugar, water, and a bit of almond extract. Then I painted it onto the cake.
Once the cake was completely cool, it was time to cut it into “cookies.”
The book suggested cookies 2 1/2” x 1 1/2”, but I went with shapes closer to squares. I didn’t measure – I just eyeballed it.
And that was it.
Bill and I each tried one – SO different from the chewier cookies we are used to. This is – clearly – more of a cake. There is substance to it – the ground almonds and the candied citrus give it some chew – and the flavors just pop. Citrus. Almond. The richer sweetness of the honey.
A lovely addition to my holiday repertoire…or for any time I’ve got some really good honey on hand and some home-made candied citrus peel!
The recipe is below.
Spiced Honey Cookies (or Cakes, if you ask me)
(from the Time/Life Foods of the World Series – Recipes: The Cooking of Germany)
makes about 3 dozen, depending on how you cut them.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup shelled almonds, ground
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange peel
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied lemon peel
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup good honey
1/2 cup milk
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons cold water
What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease and flour an 11 x 17 inch jelly roll pan or something close to that in size.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and spices. Set aside.
3. Combine ground almonds and candied citrus peel. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until thick. Add in the honey, then the milk, and then, a little at a time, the flour mixture. When the batter is smooth, stir in the almond and citrus mixture. Mix well.
5. Pour batter onto prepared pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake on middle rack in the oven until just firm to the touch and slightly golden, about 15 minutes.
6. Remove cake from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove the cake from the pan. Paint the top with your glaze and allow the cake to finish cooling.
7. When the cake is completely cooled, cut it into smaller pieces – cookies. The cake will taste even better after a day or so, and will keep for 6-8 weeks if stored in tightly sealed containers.