These soft German gingerbread cookies have the classic warming flavours of gingerbread spices and are a wonderful treat in the wintertime. You can glaze them with lemon icing, coat them in chocolate or fill them with jam.
In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the dough: flour, sugar, baking powder, gingerbread spices, and cocoa powder.
In a jug, stir together the wet ingredients: Soy milk, maple syrup, oil. The oil will always float on top, but that's ok.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix to make a firm dough.TIP 1: Try and resist any urge to add extra soy milk at first. With a bit too much liquid the dough can suddenly become very sticky and difficult to work with!TIP 2: Start mixing with a spoon or silicone spatula until the dry ingredients are evenly incorporated. Then bring the dough together by kneading with your hands.
Shaping & baking
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
On a lightly flour-dusted work surface, roll out the lebkuchen dough into sheet ¼ inch (6mm) thick. (For filled lebkuchen, see notes.)
Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes and transfer them to a lined baking sheet. Gather any left dough and roll out again for more cookies.
Alternatively you can just shape bits of dough into 1 inch (2.5cm) balls and gently press to flatten them on the lined baking sheet.
Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 8 minutes. The lebkuchen should have risen a bit and look cooked, but still have a soft texture.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool. For lemon icing or chocolate coating, see below.
Storing: Once completely cooled, store in an airtight tin or tub to keep soft. You can find more tips on storing and keeping the lebkuchen fresh in the post above!
Combine the icing sugar with the lemon juice. You can adjust the quantity of lemon juice for desired consistency.
Dip the top side of the cookies into the icing, and leave to set for a few hours or overnight.
Chop or break the chocolate into bits.
Melt half the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. The bowl shouldn't touch the water.
Leave the bowl on the pan but take it off the heat, and slowly stir in the remaining chocolate until completely melted. This is quick method of 'tempering' the chocolate and yields better results than just melting all the chocolate.
With a fork stuck into the cookies' bottom side, dip their top sides and edges into the melted chocolate. Set down on a lined tray and leave to let the chocolate set.
Baking time and dough thicknessThese cookies are quite sensitive to the baking time - too short and they can sink, too long and you will have overly hard or dry cookies. Rolling the dough thicker or thinner, will also affect baking time, so be prepared to adjust if necessary.Filled lebkuchenFor filled lebkuchen that are just like the ones you can buy, we like to use a combination of jam (apricot's our favourite!) and marzipan. The jam for flavour and fruitiness, the marzipan for thickening the filling! For the quantity of dough above (about 25 cookies) you'll need:- 4 tbsp of jam - 2 tbsp marzipan
Stir to combine the jam and the marzipan until very smooth. A short blast in the microwave or heating up the jam in a saucepan can help with this!
Roll out the dough out thinner than for plain cookies, about ⅛ inch (3mm) and cut shapes using a cookie cutter.
Use your finger or a pastry brush to moisten the edges of one shape with water or soy milk. This helps stick the cookies together, and doing this before placing the filling means you don't have to work your way around it!
Place about half a teaspoon of filling in the center of the shape, place another shape on top and seal the edges by pressing down with your finger.
Bake as above, in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for 8 minutes.
Leave to cool, then coat with chocolate using the instructions above.