These spiced cookies are protected in status – they can only be called Lebkuchen if they have been made in the city of Nuremberg in Germany. The dough has a tacky, malleable texture that is easy to cut out, and it doesn’t spread too much during baking, making the shapes attractively sharp. This dough gets better with age so, if possible, make the dough and leave it in the fridge for up to 2 days before you need to use it.
Put the butter, soft light brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla and salt into a pan and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat a little and allow it to boil for a couple of minutes, then remove it from the heat and pour it into a large bowl. Let the mixture cool down a little.
Once the mixture has cooled, add the flour and the bicarbonate of soda and mix everything together to combine. Get your hands in the bowl and form it into a large ball, then wrap it in cling film and pop it into the fridge to firm up for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days to allow the gluten to relax, making it easier for you to roll out. The dough becomes very firm, so when you wish to use it you will need to leave it out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before rolling.
When you are ready to bake the cookies,
Using the star cutter, stamp out about eight stars, placing the cookies on one of the lined baking sheets as you go. Re-roll the remaining dough trimmings and continue to make the cookies in this way until all the dough is used up – you should end up with about forty in total.
While the cookies are baking make the lemon glaze. Mix the glaze ingredients in a bowl and set aside until needed. Once the cookies are baked, remove them from the oven and brush with the lemon glaze, then leave the cookies to cool down completely on wire racks. The cookies make a lovely gift or you could just keep them for your friends and family to enjoy.
© Lorraine Pascale, 2017. Images: © Myles New, 2017.