German Lebkuchen Bars are a wonderful German/Swiss Christmas tradition that is consumed and enjoyed around the world.
Lebkuchen, in German, means the “cooking of life.” It is thought that the Lebkuchen was probably the first cookie traditionally associated with Christmas and the oldest form of cookie known.
This German Lebkuchen Bar recipe originally came from my children’s German grandmother, Gertrude Zemp. Another name for this cookie is Basler Läckerli– Swiss Honey Spice Cookie originating from Basel, Switzerland. She always made these cookies at least one month in advance of Christmas, for they improve or mellow with age because of the addition of whiskey. They will keep approximately six months in an airtight container. In my house, we can not keep these Lebkuchen Bars that long because I can not leave them alone!
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German Lebkuchen Bars Recipe – German Honey Cakes:
German Lebkuchen Bars Recipe
5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ground cinnamon
2 cups finely-chopped almonds
1/4 cup finely-chopped candied citron*
1/4 cup finely-chopped candied orange peel
2 cups honey
2 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey
3 eggs, well beaten
Milk Frosting (see recipe below)
* If you can not find candied citron (which can be hard to find some years), add additional candied lemon or orange peel plus a small pinch each of ground cinnamon and black pepper to stimulate citron’s slightly spice, more complex flavor.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter an approximate 12" x 17" x 1" baking pan. I have found that lining the baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to overhand on all sides, makes for an easier removal of the bars when cut.
In a very large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, almonds, candied citron, and candied orange peel; set aside.
In the top of a double boiler over hot water, combine honey, sugar, and whiskey; stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let mixture cool a little until just slightly warm.
Add the beaten eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition; add to flour mixture and mix until well blended.
Spread batter onto the prepared baking pan, smoothing the top with the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and they are light brown.
Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack.
While Lebkuchen bars are baking, prepare the Milk Frosting.
While the Lebkuchen is still hot, spread the prepared Milk Frosting onto the top of the baked Lebkuchen with a spatula or a pastry brush. Let the Lebkuchen cool completely. Cut into bars, and remove from pan.
Store, tightly covered, at room temperature to let mellow. These cookies get even better with age (if you can wait to eat them). Ideally you should allow them to age for 1 to 4 weeks (or even longer).
1 cup powdered (confectioners') sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and enough milk to make frosting easy to spread.
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