Tag Archives: German recipe

Lebkuchen cookies

Use Lebkuchengewuerz

Perhaps third time will be a charm. I have made this recipe twice, and although the results are passable–particularly with icing–I don’t think I’ve totally conquered the Lebkuchen yet. I hope you made some of the Lebkuchengewuerz so you can use it in this cookie.

Lebkuchen Gingerbread Men

Cutting out Lebkuchen Gingerbread men with vintage cookie cutter.

What I Did Wrong

As I explain in the notes with the recipe below, the first time I made the German ginger cookies, Lebkuchen, I added too much flour. It looked okay when I put it in the refrigerator, but 24 hours later, it was almost impossible to roll out because it was so stiff.  I also made a stupid mistake–forgetting to add the honey with the molasses, and so added it later–which changed the consistency of the dough and just in general was a rotten idea.

The flour you see on the dough, is not because I floured the pan (only a light film of vegetable oil), but because I dipped the cookie cutter each time I cut another cookie. It’s the best way to ensure a neat cut.

Then I just peeled the dough away from the images, rather than having to try to pick up the cut-out with a spatula and moving it from cutting board to pan. It saves a lot of distortion and disaster.

My second (or third, but who’s counting?) mistake was to leave another two trays of cookies that had been cut in smaller shapes in the oven a bit too long. The over-browned in a hurry and got tossed in the garbage. So keep an eye on these cookies as they bake.

With my second batch, I didn’t make any of the egregious mistakes I made in the first batch, but somehow they just didn’t have the spicy taste they should have.  I must have inadvertently used too little spice.

Don’t be discouraged by my problems, though. Lebkuchen really are not difficult. I suspect, though, that they are better with practice. After all they’ve been making it since 1395 in Nuremburg. This is an authentic German recipe from the wesite German Pulse

A Family Heirloom

I rolled the Lebkuchen out on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and cut them with a cookie cutter that I inherited from my mother.  Then I just peeled the dough away from the images, rather than having to try to pick up the cut-out with a spatula and moving it from cutting board to pan. It saves a lot of distortion and disaster.

Poor cookie cutter guy has seen better days, with all sorts of little dents here and there, but he’s been making gingerbread men and Christmas Santa Clauses for nigh onto 60 years, I imagine, so I don’t want to retire him. You can see how the handle bends down instead of standing up straight–that’s from decades of being pushed into dough.

I have not done the icing yet. The Lebkuchen are packed away to ripen. I promise to show you when the the Lebkuchen are decorated.

German Lebkuchen

Serves 48
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Occasion Christmas
Website German Pulse
An authentic German recipe for a favorite Christmas ginger cookie--Lebkuchen. Eat it or hang it on your tree.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups butter (softened but not melted)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lebkuchen spice ((see note for link to ingredients))
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (finely grated)
  • 3/4 cups molasses
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 3-4 cups flour (Or part rye (see notes))
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Sift or whisk together 3 total cups flour, soda and salt and set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.
3. Add spice mixture and beat until incorporated.
4. Heat molasses and honey until boiling and allow to cool for ten minutes.
5. Add molasses/honey mixture to butter/sugar, stirring constantly. Then Beat in eggs.
6. Add flour mixture and stir. Add up to one additional cup of flour if needed to get a soft dough you can shape by hand into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight or up to 3 days.
7. When ready to bake, roll out doubt about 1/3 inch thick.
8. Cut into shapes you want. I roll directly on lightly oiled cookie sheet, and cut there.
9. If you are going to use as dectorations, make holes for ribbons. (I used the end of a chopstick.)
10. Brush with a lightly beaten white of an egg.
11. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Space out on pan as they will spread slightly. Keep a close watch so the edges do not brown.

12. Store in a air-tight container for at least two weeks before serving. Can be served plain, decorated with a half almond, or with frosting or melted chocolate.
Royal Icing
13. Pipe edges and write messages on cookies meant for decoration with royal icing as follows.
14. Slightly beat 3 egg whites with a teaspoon of lemon juice and enough confectioner's sugar to make a stiff icing that will stand in peaks.

Note

The Spices called for in this recipe for Lebkuchen are
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmet
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

But if you made Lebkuchengewuerz (spice mix) from this recipe (Highly recommended) you can use it instead. In my opinion the amount of spices called for in this lebkuchen recipe is a bit anemic. If you want a very mild cookie, go with these amounts, but if you like it spicy, use up to double the amount.

I used 2/3 White Wheat flour and 1/3 rye flour and liked the hearty flavor, but it would be fine with all white flour if you don't have rye.

Warning--do not add too much flour.  This dough is going to look impossibly soft. It WILL get more solid in cooling process. (I had to kind of scoop it up with plastic wrap to make a ball of dough for the refrigerator.)  With my first batch I added too much flour and it was very, very difficult to roll out once it had cooled in the fridge. For me, 3 1/2 cups worked. Although the recipe says "soft not sticky", there is no way that any dough with both molasses and honey is not going to be sticky!

 

German Pot Roast: Rinderbraten

Earlier this week, I enjoyed taking a peek into the Revolutionary War period kitchen of Ken’s 4th Great-grandmother, Christina Manbeck. I’m pretty sure she would have cooked a version of the recipe for German pot roast that I’m sharing today. The will of her husband, Rudolph Manbeck specified the foods that Christina would need yearly after he was gone, and I was delighted to see that the list reinforced all I had read about the cooking of German immigrants.

They liked it spicey. They liked meat. They liked sweet and sour.  So, following that look into Christina’s kitchen, here’s a recipe for a German pot roast. (I didn’t get any pictures, so this comes from the website Pane-Bistecca, recipes in both German and English). I believe that Christina would have had easy access to all the ingredients. We know she had beef. She no doubt raised garlic, mustard seed to make mustard, onions and celery. She had cream from her cow.  She might have used flour for thickening rather than cornstarch. If she did not have other spices, she could buy them. And mushroom were free for the forager in the woods.

German pot roast

Rinderbraten with mustard marinade

Many months ago, I shared one of my own family’s favorite dishes, Sauerbraten. But Sauerbraten (recipe here) is not the only delicious German pot roast. Vary the spices and the cooking methods and you get bratens of other kinds.

Today’s roast is distinguished by its mustard coating. Pureeing the mushrooms, celery and onions cooked with the roast and then adding cream and broth makes a rich, aromatic gravy.

German World Magazine had the recipe I used, with just a couple of minor changes.  That helpful site explains that this German pot roast is a very popular Sunday lunch recipe, and is most commonly served with Spaetzle, and vegetables, commonly brussel sprouts.

Since I had some German-style egg noodles from Mrs. Miller in Fredericksburg, Ohio, not far from where Ken and many of his ancestors lived, I decided to use Mrs. Miller’s noodles. And I used green beans for the vegetable. Neither of those things changed the basic incredible taste of the Rindrbraten.

German Beef Roast – Rinderbraten

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2-3lb Beef (I used Chuck roast)
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • pepper and salt (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 onion (medium, chopped)
  • 3-4 stalks of celery (chopped)
  • 2/3 cups cooking oil (Or use the grease from 1/2 pound bacon plus 1/2 cup butter)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (chopped fine)
  • 3 1/2oz mushrooms (3-5 depending on size)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup broth (beef or vegetable broth)
  • 3 tablespoons cream or half and half
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

1. If you are using bacon fat, fry the bacon, and save the bacon itself for another use. Add the bacon to the skillet.
2. Mix mustard, salt, pepper and paprika in small bowl.
3. Dry beef and spread mustard on it.
4. Brown meat on all sides in the fat.
5. Take meat out of pan and wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm (or set in low oven.)
6. Fry vegetables in same fat used for the meat. Do not let them get dark brown.
7. Add wine and stir food bits from bottom of pan.
8. If you have cooked in a skillet this far, then dump the wine, vegetables, and juices into a larger pot. Cook for a few minutes on low heat.
9. Put meat back in pot on top of vegetables and continue to cook on very low heat. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
10. When meat is tender, take it out of pan and keep warm while you make the gravy.
11. Puree the vegetables. (see note)
12. Add broth to vegetables in pot.
13. Put cream in bowl and thoroughly stir in the corn starch.
14. Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil, over medium heat. Stir in the cornstarch/cream mixture so there are no lumps. A whisk works best for this.
15. Put the meat back into the pot with the gravy.
16. Serve Beef on a platter, dribbled with gravy with potatoes, spaetzle or noodles with vegetables on the side. Scoop extra gravy into a gravy or sauce boat to ladle on the accompaniments.

Note

German Beef Roast comes in many varieties, depending on the spices and cut of beef.  This German beef roast, Rinderbraten, benefits from slow cooking, and would do well in a crock pot. Its similar to the French Boeuf Bourguignon because of the slow cooking in red wine. (By the way, all the alcohol cooks off during the long cooking.)

The original recipe calls for a stem of leek in addition to the onion. I did not use the leek and took the onion pieces out of the broth before pureeing since family members cannot eat onion.

My philosophy is to try the recipe very close to the first version and then start experimenting the next time I make it. If you are feeling adventurous, feel free to try other seasonings. I saw many other recipes that varied the seasonings.  One called for mustard, whiskey, garlic, rosemary and paprika.

 

German Warm Potato Salad (Warm)

I make cold “picnic” potato salad often. My family loves it. (So do I). But I have never made as much potato salad as I did last week.  A forgotten bag of potatoes in my pantry was starting to sprout. I should know better than to buy potatoes by the bag.

potatoesSo, following my trend of thinking of my waste-not-want-not ancestors in aprons, I got to work making potato salad.  All those potatoes in one big cold potato salad would get very boring, though, so I made the German warm  potato salad that I do not make quite as frequently.  I usually turn to my favorite old Joy of Cooking Cookbook, but decided to look for something a little different.

I dug out a thoroughly dilapidated spiral-bound cookbook from my mother’s Home Ec teaching days. Harriette Anderson Kaser taught many subjects, but when I was in high school she was teaching home economics and all my friends took her class. I didn’t. Instead, ironically, I went home and started dinner.

Home Ec teachers got lots of product books, like the Joys of Jell-o book I’ve used here before. Their national organization also pulled together cookbooks featuring favorite recipes of the teachers across the nation.  My copy of Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Salads has been used so much that the cover and the first few pages are missing, as well as the last pages of the index and the back cover.


This image is from Amazon, and says it was published in 1964. I thought it was a bit older, but this must be the same book. Click on the image if you would like to purchase your own.

There are some really strange recipes in here, along with an endless variety of old favorites like bean salad or carrot salad or chicken salad. It is a source of endless experimentation for the curious cook.

I was looking for an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch warm potato salad recipe that my German Ancestors might make.  The one I found, did come from Pennsylvania and seemed authentic except that it included olives, which did not strike me as a food that German immigrants would have at hand.  I substituted dill pickle, which they could have on their canning shelves.  Warning–if you don’t like vinegar–like my friend Kerry Dexter, who commented on the Sauerbraten recipe–you’re not going to like this sweet and sour, warm potato salad. But, hey! It has BACON.

Note: I did not include a picture, because next to cooked oatmeal, this is about the least photogenic food I can think of.

German Recipe: Pennsylvania Dutch Warm Potato Salad

Serves 12
Allergy Egg
Meal type Salad, Side Dish
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Region German
From book Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Salads

Ingredients

  • 10 medium potatoes (cooked in jackets)
  • 2 small onions (diced)
  • 3 stalks celery (diced)
  • 4 medium slices bacon
  • 2 heaped tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 8 hard-cooked eggs (sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 dill pickle (diced)

Directions

1. Dice potatoes (peel if you want, or leave skin on).
2. Combine diced potatoes with onions and celery and set aside.
3. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble into the potato mixture.
4. Stir flour into bacon grease and mix to make a paste. (Adding more if necessary).
5. Combine eggs, sugar, dry mustard, salt and pepper with water and vinegar. Stir into bacon-flour paste.
6. Cook sauce over low heat until thick. Pour over potato mixture and mix lightly. Stir in dill pickles and gently add hard-cooked eggs.
7. Sprinkle with paprika or parsley. Serve while warm, or refrigerate to marinate for several hours, then either reheat or serve chilled.

Note

The recipe in the book called for carrots and I skipped those. I also do not eat onions, so left out the onions, with no loss. I substituted dill pickle for olives.

I also used less sugar than called for (1 cup) because I felt that left it too sugary.

The recipe was contributed by home economics teacher Mrs. Sandra Mock, Pequea Valley High School, Kinzers, Pennsylvania

Reminder: You can find an index of some of my favorite cookbooks–vintage and not–on their own special page: Food Books that Stir Family Memories.