7 Christmas Bakes with Philippa Davis:#6 Lebkuchen

PUBLISHED: 22:35 17 November 2020 | UPDATED: 22:35 17 November 2020

Lebkuchen - a classic German Christmas biscuit Photo: Philippa Davis

Lebkuchen - a classic German Christmas biscuit Photo: Philippa Davis

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Give this classic German Christmas biscuit a Dorset twist with some locally sourced honey

Sweet and spicy, the earliest record of these soft German Christmas biscuits being baked was in 1296. Often made in the monasteries and convents, the rice paper on the bottom was originally Communion wafers as they were plentiful and helped the biscuits not to stick after being baked. Use one of the many amazing local Dorset honeys to make this recipe extra special!

Makes about 32

40 x 5 cm edible rice paper disks (buy as circles or cut your own from sheets)

Lebkuchen, a wonderful biscuit to bake as a gift Photo: Philippa DavisLebkuchen, a wonderful biscuit to bake as a gift Photo: Philippa Davis

100g chopped mixed candied peel

50g plain flour

2 large free-range eggs

100g light brown soft sugar

30g runny honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

300g ground almonds

100g ground hazelnuts

½ tsp baking powder

1tsp ground cinnamon

1 pinch of ground cloves

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground ginger

½ star anise, finely ground

Chocolate icing

100g 70% chocolate

Sugar icing

50g icing sugar

2 tsp water

1 tsp orange flower water (or extra water)

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 150°C fan/gas mark 3 ½ , line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Toss the candied peel in flour then blitz in a blender until finely chopped.

2 Whisk the eggs, sugar, honey and vanilla till well blended and frothy. Stir in the ground almonds, hazelnuts, salt and baking powder, spice and candied peel.

3 Lay out your rice paper circles and put a spoonful of mix onto each. Leave for 30 minutes, this helps form a skin from and keep their shape when baking. When ready, bake for 25 minutes, then leave to cool

4 Make the chocolate icing by melting the chocolate in a bain-marie then spoon over half of the cookies. Leave to harden before moving.

5 For the sugar icing stir together in a small bowl the icing sugar, water and orange blossom (if using) then spoon over the other half of the batch of cookies. Leave the icing to harden before moving. I sometimes like to leave some plain without any icing.

My top tips for perfect bakes

- Weigh out all your ingredients before you start mixing, it’s easy to get distracted and forget to put one in.

- When chilling doughs for rolling out at a later stage, form into discs rather than balls as they chill quicker, more evenly and are easier to roll out.

- Even new ovens tend to bake slightly unevenly so I usually swap around the baking sheets half way through cooking.

Philippa Davis is an international private chef and food writer, who when not travelling the world, is in Dorset. Follow her food adventures on Instagram

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