Lebkuchen - German soft gingerbread cookies

Popular and widely known German gingerbread cookies are soft and fluffy like a sponge and taste like gingerbread. They are ready to eat just after baking and do not need to be stored in a can in order to soften. The pastry do not need to be rolled so can be baked as cookies or one flat sheet cake and cut into pieces. The top is usually iced or covered with chocolate. I baked them in many shapes variations, in baking pans or using cookie stamps. I finished them with lemon or rum icing. They are delicious, enjoy!

32 cookies or 8 x 8 inch pan

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup (115 g) butter, soften
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup liquid honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 4 cups (640 g) all purpose flour
  • ½ cup (50 g) almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • spices: 2 teaspoons ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, ¼ teaspoon ground mace, pinch of cardamom
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk

Icing:

  • ½ cup (100 g) icing sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice or rum

 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or/grease and dust with flour baking pan.

In a bowl of a stand beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add honey, beat. Add eggs, one at the time, beating after each addition. Add rum and lemon zest. In separated bowl mix together flour, almonds, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, soda and all spices. Still beating gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternate with milk starting and ending with flour.

Preheat oven to 325°F/165°C.

If you want to bake one flat cake spoon the mixture to the prepared pan. The level of the dough should be not higher than ½ inch (1-1.5 cm) – will rise a little in the oven. If you want to bake separated cookies place the dough to the fridge for ½ - 1 hour to harden. Then tear away a walnut size portion and shape in hands into a ball. Place balls onto prepared baking sheets. I flattened my balls with cookie stamps, without stamps the balls will flatten in the oven. Bake cookies for 16-18 minutes and the whole cake for 30-35 minutes (until the skewer inserted into the center comes out clean). After baking cool and ice.

Icing: in a bowl mix the icing sugar and lemon juice or rum (depending on taste you wish) until smooth, thick but still liquid mixture. Brush over the cookies/cake.

 

 

The recipe adapted from 'Bake from scratch'.

Category: Cookies.

Tags: almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, Christmas, cocoa, ginger, lemon, rum.

Gingerbread cheesecake

What could be better for upcoming festive time than gingerbread cheesecake? If we are not so willing to bake more cakes here we have two cakes in one. The taste is very Christmas-y with clear hint of spices and with the texture of delicate, creamy cheesecake. Chocolate ganache and few small ginger people on the top and we are in heaven. This cheesecake is light, not fat, ideal. Enjoy!

You should to make this cheesecake a day before because it must spend the night in the fridge to become proper structure.

spring pan 8 inch

 

Base:

  • 200 g biscuits (I used 150 g plain tea biscuits and 50 g ginger snap cookies)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Cheese layer:

  • 600 g cream cheese
  • ½  cup (100 g) dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons molasses (treackle)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Topping:

  • 2 ounces (50 g) very dark chocolate (70%)
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) whipping cream

 

Make the base: process biscuits in the food processor until very fine (sand texture). Add cocoa powder and melted butter and mix until well incorporated. Line the bottom of a spring pan with parchment paper. Spoon the mixture evenly pressing lightly with a spoon. Let it cool in the fridge.

Cheesecake: in a bowl of a stand mixer beat together cream cheese, sugar and molasses until smooth. Add spices, vanilla and lightly beaten eggs and mix until combined.

Cheesecake will be baked in water bath (bain-marie) so wrap the spring pan filled with biscuit base  in two pieces of aluminium foil. Spoon the cheesecake mixture over the cookies layer.

Place the pan in a bigger pan filled with hot water to the half-way of spring pan sides. Place both pans together in hot oven (325°F) and bake for 1 hour. The cheesecake have to be set on its whole surface, if is not bake it a little longer. Once is baked remove from bigger water pan, waste the aluminium foil and place cheesecake in pan to the fridge for overnight.

Next day remove cheesecake from the pan and place on a cake stand. In a small sauce pan bring the cream to the boil. Remove from the heat and add chocolate broken into pieces. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir until smooth. Cool the ganache for about 10-15 minutes (but do not allow to set) then pour over the top of cheesecake and smooth the surface with a spatula. Decorate as desired – I used cookies from the recipe for Danish butter cookies.

 

 

Category: Cheesecakes.

Tags: chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, molasses.

Danish butter cookies

Popular among festive baking these Danish cookies are very simple in preparing. Ordinary ingredients but addition of cinnamon and vanilla seeds are the game changers. The taste is somehow special but hard to describe. Crunchy and delicate – I am sure you will love them. Enjoy!

the amount depends on cutter size

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups (360 g) all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • seeds of one vanilla bean
  • 1 cup (225 g) butter, cold
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Additional:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

 

 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl of a stand mixer mix flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla seeds. Add butter cut into small cubes and mix until crumble like mixture. Add egg, egg yolk, cream and water and mix until the bowl will be clean and the mixture tight. Remove from the bowl, shape in hands into tight shape disc like and wrap in a cling film. Cool in the fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.

Place the cooled pastry on a floured surface and roll out into ¼ inch (5-6 mm) thick sheet. Cut out desired shapes (classic Danish cookies are wreaths) and place onto prepared baking sheets. Cool in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking. You may brush them with lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar or leave them ‘naked’. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

 

 

 

Category: Cookies.

Tags: cinnamon, vanilla.

Crinkle chocolate cookies with serious hint of orange

As most of cookies also these are easy and quick to prepare. Very chocolate-y with clear orange taste. Crunchy on the outside, a little like macarons, soft and fluffy inside. In the oven the perfect balls crack to give pretty look. Enjoy!

24 pieces

 

Ingredients:

  • 400 g dark chocolate (I used 70%)
  • ¼ cup (50 g) butter
  • 3 tablespoons orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup (100 g) almond flour
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (100 g) all purpose flour
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (100 g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • zest of two oranges

Additional:

  • ¼ cup (50 g) icing sugar

 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter in double bath (bain-marie). Remove from the steam, add liqueur and stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Stir in eggs, mix. Add the rest of ingredients, mix until smooth mixture. Place the dough to the fridge for at least 1 hour (could be overnight).

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sprinkle additional icing sugar on the plate.

Once the dough is cooled tear off the walnut size portion, shape in hands into a regular ball and roll in icing sugar coating the whole surface of each cookie. Prepare the rest of balls and put onto the trays keeping distance of 2 inches (5 cm) between them. Bake for 10 minutes until edges become slightly harder, cookies break and the center stays still soft. The cookies are tender after baking and harden when cool.

 

 

Category: Cookies.

Tags: almonds, chocolate, orange.

Babka with sweet potato and chocolate

This is yeast babka almost like normal. The only difference is an addition of sweet potato puree to the dough. Thank to it the dough is pretty yellow and has delicate structure. And also freshness on the next day. The chocolate filling is very simple – just grated chocolate and a little butter. That kind of light filling does not block the dough’s rising and allow the airy texture. The taste is so good that I baked it twice in a row. Enjoy!

loaf pan

 

Dough:

  • 4 ½ teaspoons dried yeast
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) lukewarm milk
  • 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
  • 3 ¾ cups (600g) bread flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250 g sweet potato puree
  • ¼  cup (55 g) butter, melted

Filling:

  • 50 g dark chocolate (I used 70%) grated on small grater
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Top:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk

One sweet potato about 300 g peel, slice and place to the saucepan. Cover with water and cook until tender (like normal potatoes). Drain and place on the plate. Mash it with a fork until smooth puree.

Grease the pan and line with parchment paper.

Make dough: in a medium bowl mix together yeast, lukewarm milk and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes until frothy. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine flour, remaining sugar and salt. Add yeast mixture, eggs and vanilla extract. Add mashed sweet potato. Gradually add butter and mix on medium speed until dough is smooth (8-10 minutes) and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be sticky but try not to add too much flour. Once the dough is ready place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours until doubled in size.

Place dough on a floured surface and knead few minutes by hands. Roll out into a 18 x 12 inch (45 x 30 cm) rectangle. Brush the surface with melted butter and sprinkle with grated chocolate evenly. Fold the lower 1/3 part of dough up then fold the upper 1/3 part of dough down (over the first folded part). Rotate the dough by 90° and roll out again into a rectangle of 18 x 12 inch (45 x 30 cm). Cut the dough into ½ inch (1 cm) vertical straps not cutting the upper and lower edge to the end (the straps should be sealed together in the top and bottom). Roll the dough into a log working diagonally (the log will be asymmetrical – the ends will be thiner than the center). Fold the ends (  ¼ of the log each side) underneath and place the log into the pan. Let stand the dough in a warm place for 20 minutes to rest and puff while preheating oven to 400°F (200°C).

Make egg wash beating the egg with milk and brush the top of the dough. Bake for 40 minutes (depending on the oven type) until the skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Half way of baking cover the top with aluminium foil to prevent burning the top. Let stand the cake for 10 minutes in the pan then remove and transfer to a wire rack.

 

Category: Yeast cakes.

Tags: chocolate, potato, yeast.

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