German Lebkuchen: The Original Gingerbread

Season Greetings & Happy Holidays to All!

Nurnberger Lebkuchen

Nuremberg Lebkuchen

Holidays are when traditions take center stage.  Every culture has its own special way of celebrating the holidays with their specific holiday foods. So, in this holiday post, I want to share one recipe that embodies the holidays in a very special way.

Can you guess what it is? Here is a hint: it is as simple as a cookie.  A cookie that has been made specifically for the holidays for hundreds of years by various cultures is still the number one selling holiday cookie today.

If you’re thinking gingerbread cookies you would be correct!  Gingerbread men,  gingerbread holiday shapes and don’t forget the “granddaddy” of them all: gingerbread houses.  The making of these holiday cookies are a time-honored tradition in many families across the world.

 But, the one country that takes gingerbread making to a whole other level, especially for the holidays, is Germany.

Of all the countries in Europe, Germany is the one with the longest tradition of flat, shaped gingerbreads. Christmas is when gingerbread makes its most impressive appearance. The German practice of making lebkuchen houses (gingerbread houses) has caught on worldwide and is a fun and festive tradition in numerous countries around the world. 

Nuremberg, Germany is considered to be the mecca of gingerbread. Each bakery keeps its recipe a secret. The Lebkuchen (gingerbread) has a Protected Designation of Origin and must be produced within the boundaries of the city. In 1643, the city officially recognized the Lebkuchen-Baker profession by creating the “League of Lebkuchen-Bakers.” In 1645, the league created strict guidelines that commercial bakers had to follow in order to sell their lebkuchen.

Gingerbread Fact: In Nuremberg, Germany, the quality of the lebkuchen gingerbread was so high that it was used as currency.

Click here to learn more about the history of the gingerbreads of Nuremberg, Germany