On the first day of Christmas The Pink Whisk sent to me…..Lebkuchen

Happy Christmas Pink Whiskers!  Today is the start of The Pink Whisk’s Twelve Days of Christmas.  One Christmassy baking idea each day for the next twelve days – a great way to kick start your Christmas Baking!  Hopefully you’ll enjoy the recipes, so put your Christmas hat on and get baking.


On the first day of Christmas The Pink Whisk sent to me (yes you have to sing it!) Lebkuchen


85ml honey
115g dark brown sugar
30g butter
225g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, beaten
50g ground almonds

To ice:
25g icing sugar sifted
2 tsp water

Makes 24 biscuits.

In a large pan place the honey, sugar and butter.  It does need to be a large pan as we will be making the dough in it.  Heat over a gentle flame until the butter and sugar have melted.  Remove from the heat.

Sift together the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda.

Beat the egg in a small dish. (Don’t mix it in a mug – I have lost count of the amount of times I have sipped egg thinking it was my cup of tea!)

Add one half of the flour mixture and half of the egg to the pan and mix well.

Repeat with the remaining flour and egg.

Finally add in the ground almonds and mix till thoroughly combined.

The dough now needs to be chilled, it is very sticky and will seem along way away from being a biscuit dough but don’t worry.

Place it in a plastic bag, an easy way of doing this is to fold a bag over the inside of a large jug and tip the dough in.

Chill overnight in the fridge, in fact you can leave this dough to develop it’s flavours in the fridge for up to three days.

The following day remove the dough from the fridge and roll out between two sheets of greaseproof paper to approx 5mm thick.

Preheat the oven to 160c Fan/180c/Gas Mark 4.

Crack out the christmas cutters, hooray!, and cut out your biscuits.  Lay them spaced well apart on a greased or lined baking tray.  The biscuits will spread on baking so I have found that 1″ cutters are the best to use.

(There is only one baking tray I have that doesn’t need greasing and is super non-stick, it’s the baking tray in the Tefal Airbake range, for all the others I use the reusable sheets of bake o-glide – even I can’t stick anything to bake-o-glide – I’ve put the links at the end of the post if you’re interested xx)

Bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for five minutes on the tray to firm up a little before carefully transferring to a cooling rack.

Mix up a really watery icing glaze combining your sifted icing sugar with the water.

Line up the lebkuchen on a wire rack,  I cover the work top in a layer of cling film to make cleaning up much easier later on!

Using a pastry brush glaze the tops of the biscuits by brushing on a thin layer of icing.  Apply a second coat and leave to dry.

The biscuits will keep for up to three weeks in an airtight container – that’s if you can resist eating them.
Tefal Airbake Cookie Sheet  – John LewisBake-O-Glide – John Lewis


Stunningly delicious Lebkuchen

Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire

Finalist on BBC2 The Great British Bake Off

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74 Responses to On the first day of Christmas The Pink Whisk sent to me…..Lebkuchen

  1. Elaine says:

    How long will these last Ruth? My Gran would love them for Christmas!

  2. Alison says:

    Do you have to chill overnight? Could you get away with a few hours? Just thinking might make these with my kids today and not sure they would take well to 'now we'll finish these tomorrow'!

  3. Project Cocina says:

    Gorgeous! x

  4. 21st Century Housewife© says:

    Your Lebkuchen look wonderful! I love Lebkuchen but have never made them from scratch. I look forward to giving your recipe a try 🙂

  5. Ruth says:

    Alison – think you would get away with a couple of hours chilling just to firm up the dough x
    Elaine – they will keep for three weeks in an airtight container xx

  6. Bernice says:

    These look yummy. Going to make up the dough tonight and they should be ready to bake on my day off on Friday. Your 12 days of Christmas recipes are inspired. Well done Ruth, thank you.
    Having a few problems printing the recipe but luckily my lap top will suffice in the kitchen.

  7. wannabe cupcake queen says:

    I love lebkuchen, never even thought to make it, so you never know I might just have to buy the bits I need and get baking them!!

    (Not good for the diet though LOL)

  8. Happy Cook says:

    I am sure gonna try this.

  9. Jay @ Cake Box says:

    I'd promised my daughter we'd make cookies this afternoon, so we'll give these a try. They look great!

  10. Rochelle says:

    Hi Ruth

    I've never known the answer to this but I've just realised you might be able to answer it for me?

    I'm allergic to nuts so annoyingly can never bake recipes that have ground almonds in. Can you recommend a substitute? More flour, ground rice? I'm
    never sure.


    12 days of Christmas is a lovely idea.


  11. Victoria Plum says:

    I was going to ask how long they would last!!!! I'm such a piggy!! Love lebkuchen as it reminds me of a fab weekend in Berlin in Dec 2005! Right … off to get baking!

  12. Maggie B says:

    I made lebkuchen at the weekend but I think I left them in the oven a couple of minutes too long as they went very hard.
    If you dunk them in your tea though they still taste great!

  13. tracey h says:

    hi ruth, going to give this lovely recipe a try over the weekend!
    cant wait for the other 11 days of christmas recipes now!
    thankyou ruth xx

  14. Liz says:

    I am so going to make those!

    I always beat my egg in a mug – but I don't drink tea/coffee so am unlikely to take a swig.

  15. Ariel says:

    Brings back wonderful memories of wandering around the Christmas markets with a mug of Gluhwein in one hand and lebkuchen in the other (only for as long as I could stand without gloves on though!).

    I'm halfway through – baking will be my post-lecture treat tomorrow afternoon 🙂 I ended up putting in 2 eggs as the mixture seemed really dry and quite hard to work with…fingers are crossed that they don't end up just tasting of egg!!

  16. Marilyn says:

    Rochelle – ground rice is a good substitute for ground almonds – my mum used to make Congress Tarts with that instead of almonds in the 50's.
    I can't wait to make these lebkuchen at the weekend & if they turn out well will make some as presents!

  17. Anne says:

    I lived in Germany for a year and was addicted to Lebkuchen. They are so Christmassy. I will be using your recipe, it sounds much easier than I thought they would be. Thanks for the lovely recipe.

  18. Claire Greensit says:

    well that gives me something to do on this Snow Day!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Just taken a batch of lebkuchen out of the oven. They smell gorgeous. I'm going to add a drop of lemon juice to the icing, I think it'll offset the honey and ginger nicely.

  20. abi x says:

    Just made the dough for this- can't wait to roll and cook it tomorrow!

    Not going to lie, may have eaten some straight from the pan- it tasted so good! Hope the actually finished product is even half as good!

  21. Louise says:

    Really looking forward to making these over the weekend and giving them as little gifts for Christmas in bags tied with gingham ribbon! thanks Ruth

  22. Lavender hearts says:

    I wondered if you would like to do a guest post on my blog? You have amazing baking skills. I would love it if you could do a mini tutorial of your choice. Do let me know if this is something you would be interested in.



  23. Lydia says:

    Hi there, loving the blog – especially all the photos which make it really straightforward to know if you're doing the right thing!

    I found the dough (chilled for 48 hours) incredibly stiff to roll even between the greaseproof paper as you wisely suggested. I have popeye muscles now! The first rolling was more like 1cm thick although I got better… anyway even the thinner biscuits puffed up beautifully in the oven but don't look gloriously domed as your final pic shows… am I doing something wrong? Maybe not cooking quite long enough to 'set' them?

    Ooh and I came up with my own top tip – when gathering the scraps to reroll, turn the bag you chilled the dough inside out and put your hand in it to squidge them back together without getting uber sticky yourself 🙂

    Thanks for the inspiration – I'm making a tin of goodies for my gran for Christmas (who loves lebkuchen) and these will be the star attraction.


  24. Wannabe Bree says:

    OOooooOOOoooh a little late but think im going to make these goodies..for me 😉 and if i have to share ill let my family have one! ha ha

    ….Did you mean cinnamon …before i go on the hunt for something that might not exist in sainbury's? 😉 he he

  25. Ruth says:

    Hee hee – yes cinnamon, spot the deliberate mistake! xx

  26. Anonymous says:

    Helo, Ruth. I came across your blog by accident but I have very happily made your Christmas cookies. I did change the recipe slightly – I had no ginger (though I didn't find that out until I started making them!!!) so I missed that out and I discovered afterwards that I'd used dandelion jam instead of honey! However they have a similar taste so it didn't matter too much. I used a squirt of lemon juice in the icing as well.

    My mixture made 40 cookies so I've been happily giving them away to friends. I need to make more now for my Pink Whisk inspired Mulled Wine and Cookies event! I may well make some sausage rolls too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  27. Anonymous says:

    I'd like to make these for my brother at the weekend and he's allergic to almonds. Although someone already said that you can substitute ground rice, if flour will be ok that would be easier, or something else that would be readily available at home.
    Any suggestions for replacing it?

    I really enjoy your blog, made the blackberry, ginger and mint cakes for my mum's 50th and everyone raved about them!

  28. Ruth says:

    To replace the almonds I would use plain flour, but you may need slightly less flour than almonds xx

  29. ryan@abigail*ryan says:

    Awesome! I've always loved these and now i'm lactose intolerant I can't eat the packet ones (which usually seem to contain lactose for some reason)…can't wait to try making these at home 🙂

    Oh, and feel like a total bumhead for wracking my brain wondering what connamon is for far too long!

  30. lilly says:

    Hi Ruth, first of all I have to say I love your blog, it's amazing!
    I've made lebkuchen today, but they have turned out very flat and dry.. the taste is ok, but they don't look like yours! I followed the recipe carefully,but why do you think they turned out so flat??

  31. Ruth says:

    Hi Lilly – hmmm sounds like not enough liquid maybe the egg was on the small side? also check when measuring sticky liquids you have the right amount and then make sure it all ends up being added to the mix, lastly it could be that the butter and sugar was heated too much so that it decreased in quantity – trouble with baking is there are so many variables that can affect the end result – best idea is to give it another go keeping an eye on all those points! xx

  32. Lavender Rose says:

    I do wish I had found your Lebkuchen recipe sooner as I don't think I have any dark brown sugar…may have to brave the Christmas Eve supermarket queues to give these a try. They look delicious and your recipe sounds much simpler than some I have found online. Merry Christmas!

  33. Chrissie says:

    Having seen Ruth on the Great British Bake-off I'm sure her lebkuchen are delicious, but something has gone badly wrong in writing down this recipe. As published on this site IT DOES NOT WORK!!!! We finally got something resembling lebkuchen by doubling the butter/golden syrup/sugar mix, doubling the spices, and tebling the egg. If I made it again, I'd halve the flour, treble the cinamon and double the ginger and nutmeg. Also they need more like 10 minutes in the oven.

  34. Chrissie says:

    ….and also, it's nigh on impossible to add the ground amonds to the mix at the end. So another change if I ever make this again is to add the grounnd almonds at the same time as the flour. I'd probably add more ground almonds than the recipe says, replacing some of the flour.

  35. Ruth says:

    Such a shame they turned out badly for you Chrissie, I can assure you the recipe works its the exact one I have made a million batches of these in the run up to Christmas! Unfortunately unlike cooking baking is very fickle and really is down to correct proportions, it must be honey and not syrup and must be measured accurately and all make it into the mix. The butter/honey/sugar must be melted together gently, not allowed to boil as then it will start to evaporate and decrease in volume. The spicing is personal taste and these are just how I like them! xx

  36. Rody says:

    I made these and they were absolutely gorgeous! I'd say very morish!!! I'm gonna make them again tonight and I cant wait. Thanks Ruth for sharing the recipe with us.

  37. Sarah says:

    I baked these and on the day of baking they tasted delicious – very popular. However, something went wrong because 3 days later they tasted soft like uncooked cookie dough!!! Any ideas what went wrong? I followed the recipe and as I say it all went well, just no idea what happened afterwards! Could it have been the icing???

    • Lebkuchen are softer on the inside but with a crisp outer. It could be the icing that’s caused it. Make sure the thin icing layer has dried completely before putting them in a tin. They might have absorbed moisture from the icing x

  38. Choclette says:

    These look perfect for Christmas gifts. Will try and give these a go this year, although I’m unlikely to have any room in my fridge!!!

  39. Charlotte says:

    Hi Ruth! Made your lebkuchen yesterday/ today and they have turned out beautifully. The only thing I would say is that the mixture is very, very sticky (even after being in the fridge for 24 hours!) so would recommend dusting it with some plain flour even though it’s between sheets of baking paper. I say this as when you use the cookie cutters and try to transfer them to the baking tray it can be very difficult when they stick to the cutters/ you!
    Thanks for a wonderful blog and so many brilliant recipes, they’ve taken me from someone who was apathetic about food and never cooked to someone who is in love with food and baking 🙂 xxx

  40. Kelly says:

    I agree with Charlotte. Lovely tasty but I was cursing as I was trying to cut them out! But instead of using cutters, i drops small blobs onto the greasproof paper and they sorted themselves out in the oven, coming out as circles. Taste lovely.

  41. Alice says:

    Thanks Ruth – I have been hunting high and low for a lebkuchen recipe that comes out nice and soft in the middle – many have been rock hard! I’ve just made a batch of these and the recipe has worked beautifully for me (I baked them for barely 7 minutes and it was a large egg). Based on the one I’ve just sampled, they’ll be fit to give to the neighbours! Thanks.
    PS I’m just filling out my application form for GBBO 3 – wish me luck!

  42. Harriet says:

    Wow, this recipe makes amazing lebkuchen! I’ve been looking for a good recipe for ages, but have only found ones that seem unnecessarily complicated, and I’m really not one for finicky recipes. Finally found this one (after reading a comment on a lebkuchen recipe on the BBC Good Food website!) and it worked a charm first time round. I diddled with it a bit – added a small pinch of ground cloves and a small pinch of ground white pepper as per a Danish recipe I have. I was in a hurry, so popped the mix in the freezer for about 20 mins until it was a bit less sticky. Didn’t have time to cut shapes, so instead of rolling it out, I just tore little bits off, rolled it between my palms to form a ball, then flattened slightly. Came out with beautiful domed rounds. I couldn’t find my pasty brush, so slapped the icing on with the back of a spoon – did three layers, allowing them to dry in between and they looked ace, just like the real thing! Tasted amazing too, and have already made a second batch this morning. I’m now a Pink Whisk convert!

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  44. Y says:

    Came across your blog while looking for a recipe for Lebkuchen. Can’t wait to try your recipe out, and I may possibly guild the lily by coating them in melted chocolate instead of icing 🙂 By the way, loved you in GBBO!

  45. Olivia says:

    Like Harriet, I followed a tip from BBC good food and i’m so glad I did! These were absolutely fantastic! Made them for friends and family this Christmas and they didn’t last long at all 🙂
    Thank you very much!

  46. Helen says:

    I’ve been meaning to post this since before Christmas…these were AMAZING, thanks so much for the recipe! Your rough puff pastry recipe totally rocks as well. I am completely hooked on your blog now – looking forward to what you come up with in 2012!

  47. Kelly says:

    Thanks for putting up the recipe. I made them for Christmas presents and they went down a storm! Have put a link to this in my blog as there is no way i’d have the patience to photograph every step! Hope you like what i did with them. http://www.didithinkorsaythat.co.uk/food-2/lebkuchen-german-christmas-biscuits/

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  51. kelly says:

    Would you please do the conversions. I live in the U.S. Would 85 ml of Honey be 2.8 ounces? Four ounces of brown sugar? And 2 tablespoons of butter? And the almonds?

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  53. sue crowle says:

    I love all your ideas happy christmas Sue

  54. Laura says:

    Made these this weekend after saving the recipe (i was in Germany gorging on the real Lebkuchen and Stollen last year when this was posted!) and it’s fantastic. Never have much luck with biscuits, but these were perfect, a very stiff dough, which gave amazing results! I can happily scoff the whole tin of 34 it made 🙂

  55. Aly Makin says:

    I made these for my friends at work, they were delicious! But rolling out the chilled dough with my pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome from a bumps width away nearly polished me off ;0) x

  56. I loved this recipe 🙂 I used crystallised ginger however (I tend to do that with all gingerbread tho). The kids absolutely loved it!

  57. Becky says:

    Can’t wait to make these at the weekend for my Christmas hampers! Does the dough freeze well? It would be nice to be able to freeze the cut biscuits and then cook if/when unexpected guests arrive over the holiday. Or for a Christmassy evening snack…

  58. Emily says:

    I made these this week and they were a great success! I agree with some of the other posts – my dough was far too sticky to cut into christmas shapes easily. I had some success putting the rolled out dough in the freezer for a few minutes before cutting out, but it was very time consuming. I ended up rolling into marble size balls and then flattening them. They turned out just as well as the ones I had cut out.
    I gave my husband a plate of them (about a third of the mixtures worth) and he ate the whole lot!!

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  60. helen says:

    I Put aside my normal lebkuchen recipe to give this a go. They’ve just come out the oven. To counteract the stiff dough problem I rolled balls in my hand as I’ve always done with lebkuchen. Have come out lovely and golden. Off to get the hubs to taste test. Thanks Ruth.

  61. Sue says:

    Hi. My husband has coeliac and can’t eat flour. I tried making them with gluten-free cake mix but the mixture came out very runny and ended up as a traybake. Tasted great though. Wonder if it would work better with more ground almonds. Anyone else tried to make a gluten-free version?

  62. Aine Mullan says:

    Just made a batch of these and they were lovely. I added some lemon rind into the mix as I like the flavour. They’re now safely wrapped up in gift bags so I can’t get at them.

  63. Jo says:

    i had a go at making these.
    I used wholewheat flour since it doesn’t specifically say white, and i gave it 2 days in the fridge. The honey was supermarket runny honey, and the sugar was a good quality dark brown sugar.

    When I got it out of the fridge it was like araldite, a serious wrestling match to get it onto the paper and then once there it behaved like glue on paper. I was able to roll it out, but then lifting the paper to cut shapes needed a knife to try to get the dough off the paper, the cutters cut and were okay, but removing it from the rest of the dough/paper was impossible so I ended up loosing some fo the dough and just buttering my hands (otehrwise it stuck impossibly) and rolling little balls.

    Having rolled small swashsed ball shapes i was hoping to at least get round biscuits but it almost turned liquid in the oven and became a sticky toffee tray bake.

    I also had to cook it for nearer 10 minutes to get any browning happening.

    I sliced the biscuits separate as soon as it was out of the oven, and there was some degree of crumchy outer and toffeeish doughy inner to the 2mm thick biscuit.

    I’m fairly confident I didn’t over do heating the butter/sugar/honey mix.

    Do you think it was because it was wholewheat flour?
    Would you use different proportions for that?

    They taste delicious but are such a crispy/gooey mess that I’m not going to be giving them to anyone for xmas.

    that and they are so tasty we’ve eaten half fo them already 🙂

    thanks for any clues…

    • Generally speaking wholewheat flour won’t work as a direct replacement for a plain white flour in a recipe, as unfortunately it can behave very differently, both in terms of the amount of liquid it soaks up and the way in which is forms gluten within a baked product both of which can result in the type of glue like texture you describe. I would advise you that these biscuits are meant to be made with a plain white flour rather than a wholemeal in this case x

  64. Dawn Munday says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for your wonderful blog. I’ve been following for quite a while, but these are the first things I’ve made (I want to try the mini panettone as well!). I made the dough on Wednesday with my 2 year old son and we rolled it out and cut them yesterday (amazing how much fun a toddler can have with a bit of dough!). They are gorgeous, I was worried I’d screwed up the icing as I made the first layer too thin, but the second one fixed it. They are lovely, deep rich flavour and gorgeously chewy. I won’t be buying any more in the future and I think these will be an annual Christmas bake from now on!

  65. Kate says:

    These are delicious, but I should have listened when you said to space them wide apart, they really do grow! I have separated them now and decorating them with chocolate and icing to go on the tree 🙂

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  67. Louise says:

    I’ve just made a batch of these and I actually didn’t have any problem rolling the dough out at all. I wrapped the dough in cling film and left it in the fridge for a couple of hours, then gave it a final blast in the freezer for 20 mins before rolling. I dusted my work surface too, and didn’t have any trouble cutting them out. I checked the biscuits after exactly 7 minutes and they were nowhere near ready. Checked again after 9 minutes and still not ready. In the end it was more like 18-20 minutes before they’d taken on any colour. I tried one after it cooled and it was crunchier than I expect it to be, but the middle was still a bit soft. Perhaps next time 12-15 minutes would suffice. I didn’t have any icing sugar so I made an apricot glaze and drizzled dark chocolate over them. I lose my sense of taste whenever I bake so I really can’t tell if they’re good or not! Though next time I’d be inclined to add in some very finely chopped stem ginger since I couldn’t really detect the ginger (even though I doubled the quantity). They look really beautiful though!

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  69. Elizabeth Buttle says:

    This might sound daft, but what part does the sugar play? Obviously, it’s to sweeten and add colour, but does it do anything else? Could a substitute be used, as I don’t eat refined sugar? Perhaps date syrup, honey, and butter melted together? Worth a try maybe?

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