Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Buckwheat Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen are a traditional German Christmas cookie, made with honey and spices. It's not unusual to see recipes that call for rye or buckwhat flour; I decided to make mine with all buckwheat flour. It gives them a hearty rustic quality that goes well with the spices, and also makes them gluten free. There is no dairy in this recipe either.

They are best let to rest for a couple of days to a couple of weeks before being eaten, to allow the flavours to blend and mellow. At any rate, they keep extremely well and it is not too soon to make them for Christmas.

I made mine in madeleine moulds, which will no doubt annoy both the Germans and the French. By no means traditional, but they worked very well, I thought.

36 to 48 lebkuchen
1 hour prep time plus 8 to 12 hours resting time


Buckwheat Lebkuchen

Mix the Dry Ingredients:
2 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup icing sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder

Mix these in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Chop the Fruit & Nuts:
1/2 cup candied citron
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup ground hazelnuts
the zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup buckwheat flour

Put the citron, cranberries, hazelnuts, lemon zest, cinnamon and cloves in a food processor, and sprinkle the flour over the top. Process until the mixture is well blended and crumbly in texture.

Finish Making the Cookies:
1 cup honey
1/4 cup orange juice
3 extra-large eggs

Put the honey and orange juice in a mixing bowl that can be heated. Heat for a couple of minutes (in the microwave, ideally) until the honey is very soft and easily beaten into the orange juice. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Mix in half the flour, then mix in the contents of the food processor and the remaining flour.

Now, you can put spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and oiled, or you can put some of the batter into buttered madeleine pans or other similar sized baking moulds. The batter will be quite amazingly sticky, but persevere. I use a small disher to spoon out the batter, and it is very helpful to have a glass of water standing by, and dip it in between each cookie.

Once the dough is all partitioned, cover the trays lightly with clean tea-towels and leave in a cool spot overnight (or about 10 hours) before baking.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes; time very dependant on the size of the cookies made. They should be firm but not more than lightly browned at the edges.

Once the cookies cool, loosen them from their pans and wrap them in parchment paper or foil. Stash them in an airtight tin, where they should stay for at least several days and up to several weeks before being eaten - this rest improves them; they soften and mellow.

To Serve:
about 3 cups icing sugar
the juice of 1 lemon
OR
150 grams good dark chocolate

The cookies are perfectly good plain, but it's always nice to gild the lily.

Make a glaze by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice in a shallow bowl. Give each cookie a bath in it; set it in and spoon the glaze over it until completely covered. Lift it out with a fork, letting it drain for a few moments, then place it on a rack over a cookie sheet to dry. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

OR

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Dip the bottom of each cookie into the chocolate with a fork, to cover the bottom. Lift out, let drip for a moment or two, then place on parchment paper to set, with the chocolate side up.

4 comments:

Joanne said...

The chocolate covered version sounds incredibly delicious. I am actually just seriously craving chocolate right now.

Thanks for sharing this! I like finding gluten-free recipes that don't require xantham and sorghum and tons of other ingredients that I don't have.

ae3nn said...

It looks nice. I am planning to try some gluten-free German & Dutch xmas recipes when I visit my parents. My mother has always liked the foods I bring with me, but it would be even nicer if she didn't have to break her diet to enjoy them.

Most recently, however, I made pfefferüsse--not gluten-free, but sugar-free (honey sweetened).

Ferdzy said...

Well, chocolate is always good, isn't it!

Gluten free cookies and cakes are quite possible and not really difficult - no call for gums or breaking the diet!

ae3nn, I made pfeffernusse too, but I'm still working on the recipe. Maybe next year they'll be ready to post.

ae3nn said...

Ferdzy, I'll be working on the pfeffernüsse too. For myself I only do sugar-free so I save the gluten-free experimentation for when I'm around someone who can appreciate it.

Joanne - You might also try http://www.elanaspantry.com/ if you don't know of it already.