There’s really only one “L” when it comes to Christmas in Germany, and that’s the country’s much-loved Lebkuchen. Invented in the middle ages by monks in Franconia, a region that now lies mostly in Bavaria, Lebkuchen is not dissimilar to gingerbread: soft, warmly spiced and a little bit chewy.
As with just about every culinary specialty in Germany, there are countless regional variations of this festive baked sweet, and Lebkuchen can range from the heavily spiced to the mild and sweet. However, it generally contains some or all of the usual Christmassy spices – allspice, aniseed, cardamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, nutmeg and/or vanilla – as well as honey and ground nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts). Some Lebkuchen are given a clear sugar glaze and decorated with nuts; they’re also very popular covered in chocolate.
L is also for…
Lebkuchenherzen: a somewhat harder dough is used to create the large heart-shaped Lebkuchen decorated with icing that you’ll find dangling on coloured strings from the roofs of sweet stalls at Christmas markets – and at festivals throughout the rest of the year.