Oma's Lebkuchen

This recipe of German Lebkuchen (gingerbrad without the ginger) is very special to me. It belongs to my grandmother, a darling little lady, who passed away this year at the proud age 96. She was the happiest and most charming person I have known and she will be greatly missed.
When Christmas time arrived, granny took up the challenge of baking hundreds and hundreds of Lebkuchen in her wood stove. Now, my father and I have taken up this challenge, sticking to her recipe as close as possible! And ended up on Sunday morning, with sweaty heads and sore hands, filling up several cookie jars (and our bellies) with soft Lebkuchen goodness. Very satisfying, try it!


375g vegetable shortening
1kg white caster sugar
5 eggs (as fresh as possible)
1 ½kg plain white flour
45g baking powder
375ml milk (full fat)
250g treacle (or other dark syrup)
1 ½tsp cinnamon
1 ½tsp ground cloves
2 little bottles of lemon extract, or the zest of three organic lemons
2tbsp non-sweetened cocoa
Mix the sugar and vegetable shortening until creamy, than mix in the eggs and the spices. Then slowly mix in the flour and liquids by turns. 

The dough is still sticky now; this is why you have to let it sit for 4-5 days at a cool space to let it dry out a little. (You are probably thinking: Really? Let it sit out of the refrigerator with fresh eggs and all? I know, I don’t know why it doesn’t make you sick, but I swear, it does not! I ate these cookies all my life as did my father and we are as healthy as horse!)

When you take it out to use it, it is possible that you have to mix in up to 300g of extra flour, until you can knead the dough with your hands and cut out the cookies, so don’t be alarmed. The dough should be rolled out 1cm thick. Put the Lebkuchen in the oven at 210°C for 10 to fifteen minutes and decorate as like! 

A few notes here: You guys, I know the decoration could have been so much prettier, but this is how they have always looked and my father insisted on the colored sprinkles. Secondly: This batch will feed everyone in your family and your friends and at some point maybe you dog too. Although, they apparently last forever in a closed cookie jar. We still eat them in March. But feel free to half the ingredients!
And remember to enjoy spending time with your loved ones!

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