Every culture has its own special culinary delights and in Nuremberg one firm favourite is the wonderfully aromatic and delicious Lebkuchen. This traditional baked Christmas treat resembles a gingerbread and nowadays is available in shops all year round.
German Gingerbread COokies
Disclosure: We were hosted by the Nuremberg Tourist Board, however all views, opinions and photos are my own and remain a copyright of the Curious Pixie.
History of the LebkucHen
First, a bit of history behind these deliciously sweet, spicy and incredibly soft gingerbread which has been around for more than 600 years. Franconian monks in Germany first began to bake these honey based cakes in the 11th century.
In fact a precursor to gingerbread can be traced all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Considered more than just food, they were also worn as talismans in battle or placed as a burial gift in the graves of the Egyptian pharaohs.
WHY IS NUREMBERG THE HOME OF LEBkuchen?
Good question! The city was strategically located at the intersection of the historical spice and trade routes in the time of the former Free Imperial City. It became an important trading centre for exotic spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and mace to name a few from all around the world.
Due to the well-known health benefits associated with spices such as cloves being an anti-inflammatory or cinnamon aiding blood circulation and digestion, the city council widely encouraged citizens to consume these sweet treats. I guess this was all pre Atkins.
Since their invention secret recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and still used today. Hence the city being a mecca for all things gingerbread.
The Famous NUremberg Elisenlebkuchen
Nuremberg of course has its own exclusive version – the Elisenlebkuchen. They’re considered to be the finest and richest of all Lebkuchen varieties. The soft and chewy round cookies are baked on thin communion wafers called oblaten. Legend has it they’re named after Elizabeth the daughter of a master baker. The secret recipe helped her recover from a grave illness when no doctor could help.
These world famous gingerbreads are also protected. On 1st July 1996, Nuremberg Lebkuchen were recognized in Europe as having a protected geographical indication (PGI) and now must be produced within the boundaries of the city. Strict guidelines are enforced on the making of the Elisenlebkuchen and contain no more than 10% flour and have at least 25% nuts in the mixture.
Make your own Lebkuchen at a gingerbread making workshop
Wicklein Lebkuchen is the leading brand for the original Nuremberg Lebkuchen and has been around for almost four hundred years. The flagship store and bakery is located on the Main Market square. Customers can mingle with the heavenly aroma of homemade gingerbread, enjoy a beverage with their Lebkuchen and also experience the gingerbread handicraft for themselves.
The gingerbread making workshop lasts 1.5 hours and starts with a welcome drink of either sparkling wine, coffee or soft drink.
The baking journey begins with the fascinating history behind the internationally renowned gingerbread. From it being considered holy food for centuries to learning the secrets of Nuremberg’s gingerbread spices and recipes.
Obviously the Wicklein recipe is a closely guarded secret, so the mixture is pre-made. To help create your own batch of sumptuous gingerbread cookies you need to master the technique of Lebkuchen spreading. The trick for the perfect shape is all in the clicking sound between the two metal plates.
Decoration is next on the agenda. The bakers are always on the lookout for new creative designs. Who knows if they like it, yours could be used on the next batch.
Whilst waiting for the beautifully shaped and decorated gingerbread cookies to bake – the girls tested their knowledge with a game of ‘name the spice’. Before long it was time to leave with a batch of warm self-made Lebkuchen.
The quick nature of the workshop and the central location makes it a perfect activity to help break up a day of sightseeing. It’s a wonderful way of immersing yourself in a German tradition and leaving with some wonderfully authentic treats for yourself and family.
Oh and the best bit, it’s only 14.90 € per person. This workshop I think you’ll agree is a must for a trip to Nuremberg.
For more information and to book head to the Wicklein Lebkuchen website.
Do you love a particular variety of gingerbread? Let me know in the comments box below.
PIN AND SAVE FOR LATER