If the weeks leading up to Christmas aren’t the time for baking, I don’t know when is, and in Germany, it feels like everyone’s at it. The scent of cloves and cinnamon fills the air at the Christmas markets, bakery windows are piled with heaps of festive breads and cakes, and in many German homes, the four weeks of Advent appear to largely be spent baking. My mother-in-law is busy producing platefuls of Vanillekipferl and slices of homemade Stollen; and at work, I can barely move for marzipan and my colleagues’ homemade Plätzchen (as well as mountains of Lindt chocolate. Because good grief, the Germans love their chocolate).
Yet, despite the fact there are scores of German cookbooks devoted to Christmas baking – and to Advent biscuits alone – it’s surprisingly tricky to find truly traditional recipes for German festive treats online (in English, that is: at this time of year, it feels like 95% of the German internet comprises Lebkuchen recipes). So, filled with the festive spirit, generous soul that I am, here’s a round-up of some of my very favourite festive baking recipes from some of my very favourite online English-language German resources. Time to break out the cloves and become one with your inner German baker!
German Christmas Baking: Advent Biscuits
✭ Vanillekipferl: crescent-shaped vanilla biscuits (my gluten-free version)
✭ Basler Leckerli: sweet spiced biscuits spiked with fruit brandy (that are actually Swiss – shhh)
✭ Spekulatius: beautiful shortcrust biscuits – try a classic version, or a vegan version with nougat
✭ Grandma Bohlmann’s Pfeffernusse: bite-sized, festively-spiced biscuits
✭ Zimtsterne: naturally gluten-free, star-shaped cinnamon biscuits
✭ Springerle: subtly-flavoured aniseed biscuits that require a very special mould to create their beautifully decorative imprint
German Christmas Baking: Bread
✭ Stollen: have a go at a classic version, or one filled with marzipan and quark
✭ Bremer Klaben: A sweet Christmas bread with dried fruit and almonds from the north German city of Bremen
German Christmas Baking: Gingerbread and Marzipan
✭ Elisenlebkuchen, the classic, naturally gluten-free Nurnberger gingerbread
✭ Traditional gingerbread with almonds and raisins (or a classic gingerbread to turn into a house)
✭ Marzipankartoffeln: little potato-shaped balls of marzipan.
And a bonus for the particularly enthusiastic bakers amongst you: a selection of German advent biscuits plus some edible gifts.
Do you enjoy a spot of baking at this time of year? What are your favourite German baked goods – have you any suggestions to add to this list?