One of my favourite parts of Christmas is the baked goods. Which is a bit of a problem since Christmas is summertime for me, and heating the house with the oven going isn't the best of ideas!
20 years ago I was an exchange student to California, and while there I picked up a cookie cookbook (Sunset - Cookies, printed Feb 1990) and I make quite a few cookies out of this book, but the one staple is Nürnberger Lebkuchen. Unfortunately it's not on their website, so I'll copy here. I'll also list my variations at the end - some are preference, one from a (yummy) mistake I made a number of years ago. These are the cookies that need to 'mature' that I mentioned in Things I've Been Meaning to Do - October Edition
This is a two-stage recipe, as the dough needs to rest once made.
1 cup honey
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon peel
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp each ground allspice, cloves and nutmeg
1/2 tsp each salt and baking soda
1/3 cup each finely chopped candied citron and finely chopped almonds
About 24 candied cherries, cut in half
6-8 oz whole blanched almonds
Glaze in stage 2 (1 cup powdered sugar and 5 tbsp rum or water stirred until very smooth)
Heat honey in a small pan over med-high heat just until it begins to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool slightly (very important!!).
Stir in the sugar, egg, lemon juice and lemon peel; let cool to luke-warm.
Mix flour, spices, salt and baking soda.
Add in the honey mix, citron and chopped almonds. Stir until well blended - this will be a soft dough.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refridgerate for 8 hours up to 2 days.
Work with a quarter of the dough at a time, keeping the remainder refridgerated.
Roll out with a floured rolling pin to 3/8 of an inch thick on a heavily floured board. Cut cookies with a 2 1/2 inch cutter and place 2 inches apart on lined/greased baking sheets.
Place 1/2 a candied cherry in the center and an almond at 12, 4 and 8 o'clock (like a flower). Press in a bit as they have a habit of jumping off! Bake at 375F/180C for 12-15 min or until golden brown.
Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack and brush the tops with the glaze. Once cool you can glaze the bottom, but I tend not to.
Once they are completely cool and dry, place in airtight containers and store at room temperature for at least 2 weeks or up to 3 months (I store for about 8 weeks). If the cookies go hard, add a thin slice of apple to the container and cover tightly, storing until they're moist again (about a day) and discarding the apple.
Makes about 4 dozen.
I goofed one year and instead of the tsp measures of the spices, I put in Tbsp measures of spices. I now do that every year!
I don't like citron, so leave it out. I'll also use flaked almonds in the dough for different texture.
I've substituted Brandy for the Rum in the past in the glaze.
I've never had to do the apple trick.
And in typing up this recipe, I realise I don't need to halve the blanched almonds for the top, which I've always done, getting very, very frustrated at doing it!!