Renate's PfefferkuchenChristmas Baking with SusieJ

Measurements [metric]

  • 3/4 c honey
  • 3 c sugar
  • 4 to 6 T rum
  • Either:
    • 1/2 T baker's ammonia
    • 1/2 T baking powder
  • Either:
    • 1 T potash
    • 1 T baking soda
  • 6 1/4 c flour
  • Either:
    • 1/3 c citron, finely chopped
    • 1/3 c candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c sliced almonds, ground
  • 1 T cocoa
  • 1/2 to 1 T cloves
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 4 eggs

Lemon glaze:

  • 2 1/2 T hot water
  • 1 1/4 t lemon extract
  • 1 1/4 c powdered sugar.

Note: Do not double this recipe

Heat the honey, either in a double boiler or while still in the jar in a small pot of simmering water (this last method is good if your honey has crystalized). Add sugar and stir over heat until dissolved. Dissolve baker's ammonia/baking powder and potash/baking soda in 4 T rum. Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add honey-sugar mixture, rum-leavening mixture and eggs to dry ingredients. Using a stand mixer or your hands, mix together until combined. If the dough is dry and crumbly, add up to two more tablespoons rum to bring dough together. Once the dough comes together, knead quickly on your work surface.

Place into an airtight container (minimum 2 qt). If there is a large gap to the top, cover with plastic wrap. Store in your refrigerator for two to three weeks.

[Plate of pfefferkuchen, (c) 2007 Susan J. Talbutt, all rights       reserved]

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (yes, 250 degrees F). Roll dough very thin, cut with cutters, and bake on parchment-lined sheets 15 to 17 minutes. Cool. Whisk together the ingredients for the lemon glaze until all lumps are gone. Brush with glaze. Store in an airtight container.

For gingerbread construction

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Roll dough 3/8-inch thick. Cut pieces out with a smallish, finely-serrated knife (not a bread or cake knife); work from the corners inward, to keep the dough from stretching and distorting the shapes. Bake on parchment-lined sheets 20 to 30 minutes, longer for larger pieces. Cool. Double check the shape of the baked pieces with the patterns. For the most egregiously out of shape pieces, trim with a serrated bread or cake knife by slowly scoring the top of the piece and then cutting gently with a bit more speed and pressure. Assemble with royal icing.

Pfefferkuchen are a type of Lebkuchen, Germany's famous spiced cookies. Although there are many varieties of Lebkuchen, they all have in common nuts, cloves, and resting the dough for a day or, like these, weeks. Renate wrote that these are for "foresighted Christmas bakers, who already think about Lebkuchen in November." The cookies come out chewy rather than crispy, but the baking time is easily converted for use as construction materials.