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30 Days of Christmas: Lebkuchen



If you think of the most iconic Christmas foods, ginger people will be up tops alongwith gingerbread houses. Now gingerbread houses require more effort than I am willing to put in but I managed to find a gingerman cutter. I also wanted to try the German version of gingerbread cookies called lebkuchen so I combined the two to make some lebkuchen gingermen. In my last three weeks of research on Christmas recipes, I've found BBC Good Food to be one of the best sources out there. So this one comes from BBC as well. In all the cookies I've baked in the past, I've never encountered a recipe like this. There is absolutely no sugar in the cookie, and all the sweetness comes from honey (which I replaced with date syrup hence the dark color).

It's quite an easy cookie to put together too. In a bowl, mix together 125 grams plain flour, 40 grams ground almonds, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp baking powder. In a small saucepan, mix 40 grams butter with 100 ml honey (or date syrup). Heat over a low heat until the butter melts, then pour into the dry ingredients. Add zest of a lemon and a pinch of black pepper, then mix well to form a dough. Chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Now you can roll out the dough and cut out your cookies but here's an easy shortcut. Pinch a golf ball size ball of dough and put it on a greased cutting board. Flatten with your palm to a disc slightly bigger than your cookie cutter, and cut into shape. Transfer all cut gingermen to a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes. Because of their color, it is difficult to tell when the cookies are done but look for them to set and harden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

For icing, I used one of those ready to use 'writing icing' tubes - it's one shortcut that comes in real handy for little accents on gingermen or for writing Happy Birthday on cakes so make sure you have one in the fridge on all times. If not, the slightly longer method will be to melt white chocolate and use it to pipe details.

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