Posted by: hearttohearthcookery | December 18, 2011

Is it the “oldest gingerbread”?

Preparing Lebkuchen

 It certainly looks like I have just rolled out “gingerbread” and ready to cut out a shape, but the receipt (recipe) that I have prepared is a lebkuchen which historically was honey based and  incorporated expensive, luxury spices of the European spice trade.  This receipt contains eight spices in the spice mix:  cinnamon (56%), cloves (18.5%),allspice (4.6%), anise seed (4.6%), cardamom (4.6%), coriander (4.6%), ginger (4.6%), and nutmeg (2.3%).  The sweetener is both honey and molasses in equal parts and boiled.  Thus the appearance of a modern rolled gingerbread but perhaps more accurately considered a cinnamon-bread or spice-bread? 

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  1. What period is your ‘gingerbread’ leibkuchen from? Or reputed to be from? I ask because allspice was relatively late, especially as a commonly available spice, being a New World export.
    Happy Christmas, Jacqui

    • Dear Jacqui,

      The lebkuchen receipt that I used was an 18th century receipt and the earliest one that I had from which I could calculate the percentages of spices.

      Cook from the Heart!


  2. The gilt will never be off this confection in my mind. I think that there is nothing more fascinating than ‘gingerbread,’ in all its forms. It has been around for hundreds of years, Shakespeare wrote of it, P.L. Travers character Mary Poppins painted the night sky with the gilt star ornaments from gingerbread, there were entire fairs dedicated to it, some eastern European countries have museums devoted to it, architectural ornamentation was named after it and every country had its own twist on it. After tea, I can think of no other food that has over the centuries had such an affect upon the human condition than that of this confection we still adore and look forward to today. Although it has become a Christmas time treat in most homes, in mine, we enjoy it all through the year, but especially in the cooler months of the fall, winter and spring.

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