Friday, January 8, 2016

Lebkuken Decorating Day

Today was our annual lebkuken decorating day with our friends L and B at their lovely little handmade house about an hour north, up in the higher mountains.  We arrived just before lunchtime, parked down at their studio and office area;  then L and I hiked through the woods the mile to their house, and B and P drove the cars down there.   B had a carrot soup in process, and we all assembled our  additions to lunch.  I managed to sketch a couple of the wonderful objects that are all over the house-- this woman's head plant pot filled with dried weeds and seed heads, and a brass fish-shaped bottle opener.

We lingered at the table for a while enjoying a bottle of English cider leftover from the holidays;  then the serious work began.  We had each brought our own lebkuken and some dried fruit, seeds, nuts, and honey for the decorations.  First step was to spread honey on the tops of the cookies.  B and P were in charge of that while I sliced up dried fruit and L read to us from one of their favorite books.   We had around forty cookies to decorate.  The two on the right above are from L and B's pile, which they will mail out to friends all over the country.
On this page is an array of P's and mine, a bit clunkier because I used almond meal and coconut flour this year and the dough wasn't supple enough to use a cookie cutter.  We made all of ours into suns and flowers.   

Here's a rough estimate of the recipe (which stands up to much tinkering but originated with L's German grandmother):

Bring to a boil 1 cup of honey, watching it carefully, as it boils quickly.  Cool this completely; then add to it 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses, 2 eggs, 1T fresh lemon juice, 1 t grated lemon rind or a little more.  Combine all the liquid ingredients; then add to them 2 1/2 cups flour (I used half almond meal and half coconut flour;  L used whole wheat flour),  1/2 t baking soda,  1T cinnamon  (L used 1 t), 1/4 t cloves, 1/2 t nutmeg. ( L also added 1/2 t allspice and 1/3 cup chopped nuts.  Mine seemed nutty enough with the almond flour, so I left the chopped nuts out.)

Roll out about 1/4" thick  and cut with cutters (I rolled balls and flattened them due to the inflexible dough issue with the flours I used);  then bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes on lightly oiled baking pans.  (L baked hers in their wood fired oven at around 250 degrees for several hours.)

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