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A story about Lebkuchen (Gingerbread) - a
Thanks my German long friend Mr. Chilian
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The Lebkuchen is a German famous cookie for Christmas. But it is not clear enough for many Chinese. It is very difficult to be found in Chinese food store at present
Why I known the Lebkuchen? It is a little story for me. I known a German friend Mr. Chilian (right photo) befor 8 years at an accidental chance (See here and here). Mr. Chilian is a sale manager in Asia region of a German Corp. We have a common hobby of philately. Our friendship has lasted for 8 years since 1998. he mailed a packet with Lebkuchens made by him and his wife for me in 1998's Christmas. I and my family (My wife, son and daughters, grandsons) all like it very much.
a German friend Mr. Chilian
A story about Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)
A story about Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)
 
 

From 1998, Mr. Chilian always mails the packet with Lebkuchens for us every Christmas, he also buy a gift box made by famous Schmidt shop in German Nurnberg and ask his friend brings it to Beijing office, then transmit to my home (See right image). The mail fee is quite expensive, I hope I can buy it in China. Mr. Chilian has retired in 2001, he tooks my advise to stop mail at last

In order to understand the cookie more, I look over some knowledge about it in the network. First I found the Schmidt shop http://lebkuchen-schmidt.com/ and see its products and price,the price of every 1.2 - 1.6kg is about 18-25 Euro,it is more expensive than other cookies-example Danish legend butter cookies

the Schmidt shop  Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)
 
the Schmidt shop  Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)
the Schmidt shop  Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)

I continued find them in the network, and understood the history of the Lebkuchen.About the name of the "Lebkuchen",there is a difference of opinion about the origin of the word "Lebkuchen". The most likely theory is that the name derives from the Latin word libum, meaning bread, cake or sacrificial cake. However, "leb" = "Laib" (body) derived from the Lebkuchen or "Lebenskuchen" shape (cake of life) is also a possible origin, due to its healing properties. About its history and the relation between Lebkuchen and Nurnberg, please see an article (More see here)

The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans considered honey to be a gift of the gods and hoped for magic, healing and life-enhancing properties from the honey cake. So they not only ate honey cakes, but they often wore them into battle as a talisman or were buried with them. The Teutonic people in pre-Christian Europe used the honey cake as protection against evil spirits who were abroad during the twelve nights of Christmas.

Then, in the 13th century, the honey cake became Lebkuchen. The use of wafers on the bottom of the Lebkuchen may indicate a monastery as their origin. The monks particularly liked the dry gingerbread cake seasoned with black pepper, because it caused a thirst, while the nuns preferred the sweeter kind of bread. Naturally, something as good as this couldn't be kept a secret for long. So, in 1395, the first Lebkuchen bakery in Nunberg was opened.

But again, you ask, why Nunberg? Its location at the intersection of the ancient salt and trade routes that carried sacks of spices from the east via Venice and Genoa, was the major reason. Extra supplies of spices were brought to Nunberg for the bakeries. For the second essential ingredient of Lebkuchen, they only needed to look nearby at the imperial woods surrounding Nunberg. These huge woods, known as the "Holy Roman Emperor's Apiary" offered an abundant supply of honey. Unfortunately, the 30 Years War brought about a decline in the Nunberg Lebkuchen, as two lengthy sieges of the city cut off the spice trade. After almost two centuries, the old markets had to be built up again.

After almost one hundred years of appealing, in 1643 the city council approved the founding of the Nunberg Lebkuchen Baker's Guild. Fourteen highly respected master bakers made up the Guild when it was first formed.

In 1927, the Berlin District Court appointed the designation "Nunberg Lebkuchen" as a mark of origin. This means that only Lebkuchen produced within Nuremberg city limits may bear the name of Nunberg and its motifs.

Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)
Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)
Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)
Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)
Several Lebkuchen
(More see here and here)
A Lebkuchen shop in the Munchen country fair
A Lebkuchen shop in the Munchen country fair
A Lebkuchen shop in the Munchen country fair
Below is its mainly ingrediennts:(See here)
Lebkuchen  mainly ingrediennts
mainly ingrediennts Lebkuchen
I start to find the Lebkuchen from 2002 in China, in evry big food shop of Nanjing, Shanghai...but I am very disappointment, I cannot find it in all shops or like "Carrefour","Metro" big supermarkets. I also find it in a food supermarket of "Lafayette maison" of Paris when I and my wife to go to France for tour in April 2006, but still is without result, I think maybe its expensive price or without Christmas period, and our time is too packed for trip. So I have to send E-mail to the Schmidt shop in 2002 to ask if I can buy it in China or Hongkong, Japan, but their reply is still make one disappointment. I send E-mail again in September this year(2006), below are my E-mail and their reply:
Dear Sir, I am aged Chinese, I 'd like Lebkuchen very much, but Germen is too far! I don't know if I can buy your products in China (mainland), HongKong or Japan. I hope get your information, Thanks!

With best regards HAN
Dear Mr. Han,

Thank you for your interest in our Lebkuchen.
We would like to send you some information when you send us your mail address.
Otherwise you can just have a look at our online shop. But we regret there is no shop in China.
The address is:
www.lebkuchen-schmidt.com

We hope information help you and when you have some questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,

Lebkuchen-Schmidt GmbH & Co.KG
Zollhausstr. 30
90469 Nürnberg
Germany

Iris Geitner
mailto: iris-geitner@lebkuchen-schmidt.com

So, I have to consider to made it by myself. I look over many English and Chinese web sites for understand its manufacture. the material and spices can be bought in China at present, such like cinnamon, nutme, ground cloves, vanilla or almond flavoring...and the "Allspice"(See right image), its price is about 30 YUAN RMB (is about 4 USD) of 30g, I have bought it for prepare. Below are some manufacture (Only for give an example)
"Allspice
Example 1 (See here)
Ingredients
For the cookies:
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk (white is used in icing)
2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 to 1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup of flour
1 tsp. baking powder
 
For the icing:
1 egg white
1 cup powdered (10X) sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla or almond flavoring

Directions


Grind nuts in food processor until very fine. My little food processor takes a bit under a minute to grind to the right consistency.

Beat eggs and sugar on medium speed until well blended and the mixture is light. Mix spices, flour, baking powder and ground nuts together, and add to egg mixture. Mix on a lower speed until blended. Line a small jelly roll pan (12x16 inches) with parchment paper, pour mixture into pan and smooth.

Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Flip pan, remove pan, remove parchment paper from back of Lebkuchen, and flip Lebkuchen upright.

In a small bowl, whisk egg white until foamy (not yet the soft peak stage). Whisk powdered sugar two tablespoons at a time into the egg white. Whisk in vanilla or almond extract. Icing will be fairly stiff but spreadable. Spread on cooling Lebkuchen and allow to cool for another 20 minutes.

Cut into bars about 3 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Store in the ubiquitous airtight container.

Notes: You can omit the nuts and add a bit more flour. Or you may wish to add some (about a half cup?) finely chopped candied fruit. The fruit should probably not be as finely chopped as the nuts.

 
Example 1- Sweet 'n' Spicy Lebkuchen (See here)

These spicy holiday cookies hail from Germany and were traditionally sweetened with honey, but German immigrants in America substituted molasses. They have all the spice of a gingersnap and a texture that's tender and chewy

Ingredients:
1 cup almonds
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup dark raisins
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' sugar, for glaze
Ingredients Sweet 'n' Spicy Lebkuchen
Directions
1. Toast the almonds in a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 6 minutes and set them aside.

2. With an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, honey, molasses, egg, and orange zest in a mixing bowl until smooth.

3. Combine the almonds, raisins, and crystallized ginger, if you're using it (for extra zip), in a food processor. Pulse repeatedly to finely chop the mixture. (You can also finely chop the ingredients by hand.) Stir the nut mixture into the sugar mixture.

4. Sift the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt into a separate medium-size bowl. Then stir the dry mixture into the liquid a third at a time, stirring well after each addition. The dough will be quite dense and sticky.

5. Scrape the dough onto a well-floured 3-foot-long sheet of plastic wrap. Generously flour the dough. Then, using floured hands, knead the dough several times to smooth it. Flatten the dough into a 1-inch-thick square and wrap it in the plastic. Slide the dough into a plastic bag or wrap it in aluminum foil and chill it until firm, several hours or overnight.

6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet (preferably not a dark one) with parchment or lightly greased aluminum foil. Set the sheet aside. Transfer the dough to a generously floured sheet of waxed paper and roll it into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle or square. Cut the dough into cookies that measure about 2 inches square.

7. Transfer the squares to the baking sheet, spacing them about an inch apart. Bake the cookies on the center oven rack for 12 to 13 minutes, 1 sheet at a time. When done, the cookies will have formed a crust, but they should still feel soft to the touch. (Tip: The cookies stay chewier if you bake them less and put them in an airtight container while they're still slightly warm. If your family prefers a crisper cookie, just bake them a little longer and let them cool completely before you store them.) Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and, while they are still quite warm, dredge them in confectioners' sugar. When they've cooled completely, dredge them once more. Makes about 18 to 24 cookies.

Example-3 -- Chinese page
A lebkuchen with cream and cinnamon (See here)
准备时间:45分钟

制作时间:4小时

备材准备(4人份)

鸡蛋5个,蜜糖1/2杯,黑砂糖1/4杯,碎鲜姜100克,蛋糕粉150克,发酵粉1茶匙,姜粉1茶匙,多香果粉3/4茶匙,新鲜黑胡椒1/2茶匙,盐1/2茶匙,砂糖1/4杯,白明胶1大茶匙,奶油起司适量,牛油适量,朗姆酒2大茶匙。
A lebkuchen with cream and cinnamon
制作:

1. 制作蛋糕:预热烤箱至325度。铺一张12×17英寸的烤箱纸。在一个大碗中用金属搅拌器把鸡蛋蛋黄搅匀。加入蜜糖,1/4杯黑砂糖和新鲜的姜搅拌融合。在一个中碗里,搅拌面粉、发酵粉、姜粉、多香果粉、黑胡椒和盐。

2. 在干净的碗中,搅拌蛋白。逐渐加入1/4杯砂糖拌匀。搅拌至糊状,放在烤箱纸上烤15分钟,冷却10分钟。

3. 将剩下的砂糖撒在蛋糕上。同时,制作饼馅。在一个小号微波炉碗中盛满冷水,撒上明胶,静置5分钟。加热10秒等明胶完全溶化。在一个干净的碗中,将奶油起司和肉桂,混上溶化的明胶,搅拌均匀成浆糊状。

4. 将饼馅填充到蛋糕中。紧紧卷起。冷却3小时。

5. 制作酱汁:在平底锅中溶化奶油,加入剩下的1/3杯黑砂糖,煮热,拌匀。加入肉桂枝和丁香。搅拌加入朗姆酒和苹果酒。浸泡1小时后取走肉桂枝和丁香。

6. 在姜饼上撒上细砂糖,切片,室温回暖。用酸果和核桃装饰食用。
 
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