I distinctly remember Bethany loving Lebkuchen when she was 4 years old, it was the first year and the last year she had Lebkuchen at Christmas time. I LOVE Lebkuchen and am saddened to say that 3 years after her diagnosis, I started to indulge again with hidden packets of the biscuits in far-to-reach cupboards, behind the jars of pickled gherkins! (Bethany’s version of Kryptonite).
With every guilty bite I promised myself Bethany would once again taste gluten free Lebkuchen at Christmas … now she has and can! They say third time’s a charm, and it took three attempts to get this just right but I’m pleased as punch with the results, it’s never failed me since and even better, you can make this well in advance as they actually get better with age…finally! a gluten free biscuit that doesn’t have to be eaten within minutes of coming out of the oven to taste any good!
What is Lebkuchen anyway?
Why I’m glad you asked. (just play along and humour me!) Lebkuchen is pronounced LEB-KOOK-EN with no emphasis on the “chh”, I’ve been saying it wrong all my life but the lovely Eve from Healthy Tart, who is German kindly answered my question on Instastories and sent me a audio clip to help with pronunciation.
Lebkuchen stems back centuries but the bake as we tend to know it now originates in Nuremburg, Germany and was made by monks. sometimes known as ‘honey cake’ sometime ‘Lebkuchen’ or another variation is Pfefferkuchen which is far more heavily spiced and referred to a ‘pepper cake’.
Just to confuse you further there is also a harder biscuit version called Lebkuchenherzen or Lebkuchen Hearts, these are more commonly made with the intention of decorating them elaborately for German Christmas Markets or Oktoberfest. So there you have it, now you have a teeny-tiny insight into the history of Lebkuchen should it ever come up in a quiz!
I’ve kept in some old photos in this post, partly to show you the different styles of decoration I’ve added in the past and partly for sentimental reasons as this is a recipe we always make each year now. Just so you know, the obviously up-to-date photos are the dairy, egg and gluten free version.
Why I’ve developed a NEW free from Lebkuchen
Since perfecting this recipe back in 2016 I’ve since found myself to be dairy and egg intolerant so can no longer sneak the odd packet or two if I don’t have time to bake them myself – call it karma for going behind Beth’s back! You may also have seen that Schar have brought out their version of Lebkuken biscuits which have been hugely popular across social media, I confess to have had one or two myself and they are delicious albeit a little gooey in texture – I had all the regret afterwards as they are not egg free, neither are they nut free which my version is. As with most shop bought gluten free items there are also a billion-gazillion ingredients, which is to be expected given shelf-life demands but as you’ll see my gluten free, nut free Lebkuchen is way less fiddly when it comes to ingredients.
So naturally I dove back into the kitchen on a mission to make my Lebkuchen diary and egg free too (they can’t be vegan as they have honey in them). I’m pleased to say I’ve cracked it, pun not intended. However, the appearance is slightly different to their egg and dairy filled cousins as there is crackling on the surface of the bakes so I’m more inclined to coat them totally in dark chocolate to make them a little prettier. To prevent some of the cracking I smoothed the biscuit batter with the back of a wet spoon.
A delicious spicy cake-like biscuit traditionally eaten in the wintertime and Christmas period, originating in Germany and now made gluten free with dairy and egg free options too.
- 100 g caster sugar
- 400 g plain flour
- 1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp clove
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 60 g softened butter or dairy free alternative
- 1 egg or 1tbsp of flaxseed (no need to mix with water)
- 115 g treacle
- 1 tbsp honey
- 150 ml milk or dairy free alternative
- 100 g glace ginger
- 150 g icing sugar
- 1 egg white
- 300 g dark chocolate
- 300 g dairy free 70% dairy free chocolate
- 100 g dairy free white chocolate
- Cream the butter and sugar until light.
- In a jug add the milk, egg, honey and treacle and whisk until combined.
- Pour into the butter mixture and mix, start to add the dry ingredients, once all ingredients have been added the mixture should be a thick dropping consistency.
Add spoonfuls of mixture (about the size of an apricot) to a prepared baking sheet, these will spread to approx 2.5/3inches.
Bake in an oven on 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 8-10 minutes - they will turn a dark brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before decorating.
- To decorate I add a dollop of dark chocolate to the bottom of each biscuit and place on the reverse of a textured plastic chopping sheet, this creates a professional look to the underside of your biscuit ... it's sometimes the little attention to detail that impresses to most!
To make the icing mix 150g icing sugar with the white of 1 egg and brush over the top, pop in the fridge for the chocolate to harden and the icing top to crust, you may want to repeat the egg and sugar wash process to get a thicker coating
Melt the chocolate and coat the Lebkuchen bottoms and place on a silicone or textured sheet. Pop into the fridge to set.
once set coat half the biscuits fully with dark chocolate and the other half drizzle with dairy free white chocolate.
I've added a few of my Lebkuchen photos from the past 3 years to give you some ideas for decoration, these are your creations - go as festive as you want and please tag me in on your photos if you share them on social media.
Other gluten free Christmas recipes to try
I have a few Christmas recipes on this website now for you to try, there’s my Free From Clootie Dumpling: a traditional pudding and a lovely recipe for Stollen Mince Pies; gluten and dairy free. I also have my Homemade Delicious Dairy Free Baileys Liqueur Recipe. There’s some amazing recipes over on my lovely foodie friends websites too so make sure you check out Vicki’s Gluten Free Panettonne or Kate’s Christmas Mince Pies with Cinnamon Crumble Topping