Okay, it’s time to give in. The first of December is rapidly approaching, accompanied by Christmas adverts and festive Instagram posts. Soon, highstreets will be twinkling with jolly festive lights and Christmas trees will go on sale in Sainsbury’s – there’s no escape. So, we may as well get into the swing of things with a spot of festive baking, and what better way to get the Christmas juices flowing, than a batch of Lebkuchen. These traditional German Christmas biscuits are cakey in texture, gently spiced and make a great introduction to the festivities.
Lebkuchen Makes 16-18 biscuits / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 30 mins + cooling and icing /V 250g plain flour
80g ground almonds
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp all spice
¼ tsp sea salt flakes
2 tsp cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of half a lemon
50g dark brown muscovado sugar
80g unsalted butter
110g icing sugar
Method 1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with all the spices, cocoa powder, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and the zest of half a lemon. Mix until the ingredients are well distributed. 2. In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the honey, butter and the dark muscovado sugar together. Once melted take off the heat and pour straight into the dry mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until you have a wet dough. Leave to cool for a few minutes or until the dough is cool enough to handle. Preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.
3. The dough will still be warm but easy to work with. Using your hands pick up around 35g of dough (about the size of a walnut) roll into a ball and divide between 2 lined baking trays, spacing out evenly to allow room for the biscuits to expand. Using the back of table spoon, flatten each ball slightly into a disk shape (although they should spread out slightly naturally on their own). 4. Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins. Once expanded and golden in colour, remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays for 5 mins before twisting each biscuit carefully with your fingers to loosen it and transferring to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
5. To ice, mix 110g of icing sugar with 1 and a half tbs of water until you have a thick but loose paste. Place a sheet of cling film under the wire rack to catch any drips. Spoon 1 tsp of icing over each biscuit and using the back of the spoon, push the icing to the edges using a circular motion (don’t worry if these drip, that’s the idea). Grate over the remaining lemon zest (optional) and leave to set before serving. Store in a tin lined with a baking sheet for up to a week.
For more Christmassy ideas visit my new Christmas page.
Nothing puts you more in the Christmas spirit, than making your very own Christmas marmalade. Zesty, sweet and with a touch of festive spice, this crowd pleasing jam makes the perfect Christmas gift to palm off on your relatives – now if that isn’t a cost saving no brainer, I don’t know what is.
Personally, I like to keep the majority of it for myself and eat it on toast smothered on top of mascarpone (yes mascarpone) – don’t knock it until you’ve try it. Merry Christmas! 🎄🎄🎄
For more edible gift ideas, check out my salted sultana rum fudge, vanilla shortbread, softly spiced lebkuchens or last years offering, mini peppermint creams.
TIP: If making as a gift, I recommend using four 250ml jars and doubling up the recipe. Make in batches.
Spiced easy-peeler marmalade Makes 500ml / hands on time 30 mins / total time 1 hr 30 mins + cooling /V Vn GfDf You’ll need: Clean jar/jars, small food processor (optional)
500g easy peelers, scrubbed – 1 extra to stuff with cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cinnamon sticks
8 cloves – stick in a spears easy peeler
8 cardamom pots, pierced with knife (be careful not to split open the pods as you don’t want the seeds to fall out)
2 star anise
250g granulated sugar
1. Start by giving your easy-peelers a bit of a scubas under warm water to remove any wax and slice off the storks. Cut each clementine into quarters and blitz roughly in a food processor for a few seconds (be careful not to over blitz, as you want your jam to have a bit of texture). If you don’t have a food processor, simply chop the easy-peelers into roughly 1cm pieces.
2. Add the easy peelers to a heavy bottomed saucepan along with the lemon juice and the water. Give it a good stir to combine before adding the cinnamon sticks, star anise, pierced cardamom and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, take the spare easy-peeler and insert the cloves into it before submerging it in the liquid.
3. Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally – this will make your house smell lovely and festive. If sterilising jars this is a good time to preheat an oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7. Wash the jars and the lids in hot soapy water and give them a good rinse. Place straight onto a baking tray lined with baking paper (there is no need to dry the jars first, place the on the tray wet). Once the oven is hot, bake the jars for 15 minutes before removing and setting to one side.
4. Carefully fish out all the spices and discard before adding the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat a bit and stir continually for 10 minutes (be careful not to have the heat too high or the marmalade might start spitting at you).
5. Once the marmalade has thickened and looks nice and glossy, pour straight into your prepared jars and seal with lids immediately. Leave to cool before storing in the fridge and use within 1 month. Keep refrigerated.
If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.