5 Senses


Lebkuchen is a German word for gingerbread, but by far not the only one: It is also known as honigkuchen (honeycake), gewürzkuchen (spicecake), and pfefferkuchen (peppercake). The names always refer to its ingredients: either to honey as a sweetener or to the Oriental spices.

The first flat breads made with honey and spices were eaten in ancient Egypt, where honeybread was among the 4000-year-old grave goods found in pharaonic tombs. The ancient Greek and Romans presented honeycakes to the altars of their gods as an offering.

Honeybread crossed the Alps with the Romans. In the Middle Ages, the bread was renamed lebkuchen, which is borrowed from the Germanic "laib" meaning loaf, as in a loaf of bread. Lebkuchen was thought to be healthy and appetizing. Since it could be eaten on fasting days, monasteries, in particular, soon developed into centers for lebkuchen production. As a rule, monastery kitchens also housed the bakery where the sacramental, unleavened host wafers were baked, and it was here that the idea originated of placing the lebkuchen dough on such a wafer for baking. This way, the dough wouldn?t get stuck to the baking sheet and not dry out too quickly.

This is a recipe from the early 1800s from the region of Nuremberg. It was named after the master baker’s daughter.

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