It is that time of the year again. Today is the 1st of December and the beginning of advent, the countdown to Christmas.
We, in the UK, have a number of Christmas traditions, treats and sweets that bring unlimited comfort and (in my case) nostalgia. Every family has it's own traditions, from mulled wine, to decorating the tree together or backing gingerbread. The family tradition in my life is Lebkuchen. To me, they are the ultimate thing that tells me its nearly Christmas time, and takes me back to being a giddy child sitting under the Christmas tree where Santa would leave his gifts.
So, I wanted to dedicate this post to my favourite Christmas treat: Lebkuchen.
What Are They?
To me, they are my childhood- and the childhood of many, many people. Lebkuchen - also called Honigkuchen or Pfefferkuchen are gingerbread cookies or firm cakes which have been layered in honey or sugar icing. Traditionally, the cakes could come in a huge variety of different sizes, textures and styles. Some are small biscuits and others are the size of a loaf of bread.
Lebkuchen are a traditional treat made for Christmas in Germany but have been made popular right across Europe. Traditional German gingerbread is spiced with star anise, coriander, mace, nutmeg, cloves, fennel and allspice. The recipes are in German families for generations and are recorded as far back as the 13th century.
The more modern iterations are sometimes based with Chocolate and decorated with colourings and toppings. The sweet spicey deliciousness stays the same. My family would buy Lebkuchen while shopping in Lidl, which back then was a niche European store and not the mainstream supermarket it is now.
How to Pronounce Lebkuchen?
Funnily enough, the word looks a lot more complicated than is. As a British person, I had no idea how to pronounce Lebkuchen until today (at least properly). The pronunciation is similar to: Leyb-koo-kuh n.
Where to buy the best Lebkuchen in the UK
Of course, I am bias. The Libkucken in Lidl are my favourite for so many reasons. They bring me so much comfort via nostalgia, and they are delicious.
Lidl, to many, may seem like a 'value' supermarket, but their selection of European goods is unrivalled. There are few places that sell high-quality authentic food from Europe with a price tag similar to what you'd expect from more local produce.
I believe that the Lebkuchen from Lidl are the best you can buy.
Marks and Spencers
Fancy something fancy? If you have a taste for the finer things then the Marks and Spencers Lebkuchen selections are very regal.
The Nürnberg style Lebkuchen are made with classic spices and nuts which gives the soft, delicious cakes an elegant, creamy and complex flavour.
For me, I can only eat one or two of these at once. They are very rich and sweet.
One of the best things we have at this time of year is the famous Christmas market. They are a fixture of UK highstreets, and amazingly many of them sell Lebkuchen.
Many Christmas markets are an amalgamation of many of the world's Christmas traditions. From the sale of plates, tinsel, french cheese, bratwurst and (most importantly) gingerbread.
I have tried many of the options from Christmas markets around the UK, and my local market in Edinburgh hosts a number of gingerbread sellers.
They are nice, but not a scratch on Lidl for me.