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Gingerbread - Lebkuchen Spice Mixture


Homemade Mix of Lebkuchen Spices in a Bowl

Homemade Mix of Lebkuchen Spices in a Bowl


"Lebkuchengewuerz" or Gingerbread Spice Mix is traditionally used when baking "Lebkuchen" also known as Honey Cake or Gingerbread. Gingerbread has been baked in Germany since the Middle Ages, most notably in trade centers like Nuremberg and Aachen. Today, we use this spice mixture in many other products, such as chocolate, cocoa, tea and coffee mixtures or even yogurt, to give food or drink a Christmas-y smell and taste.

There is no set mixture which makes up Lebkuchengewuerz, instead every baker is free to make up their own. One, traditional mixture is called "Neunerlei" mix, which stands for nine spices which are the perfect praise of God: The Holy Trinity, the three elements (earth, air and water) and the three spheres, Earth, heaven and hell.

Traditional Lebkuchen Spices:

  • cinnamon
  • anise seed
  • coriander
  • ginger
  • cardamom
  • cloves
  • allspice
  • nutmeg
  • fennel seed
The mixture can also have small amounts of:
  • star anise
  • ground, black pepper
  • mace

Everyone has their favorite mixture of spice for Lebkuchen. You can even buy an expensive mixture from a German grocery or deli labeled "Lebkuchen Neunerlei" (Nine-Spice).

If you prefer to make your own, here is a very simple recipe.

You can also "cheat" with apple pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves) or pumpkin pie spice mix (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, mace and cloves), or mix them one to one with "Chinese 5-Spice Powder" (cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves), which are found at your local grocery store.

Penzeys Spices sells all of these mixes too, plus a new "Baking Spice" mix with cinnamon, anise, allspice, mace and cardamom, which is a good mix to use on its own or with ground ginger. They also have something called "Cake Spice" with cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cloves. A listing of their retail outlets is found here, or purchase online and let them ship to you.

The point is, there is nothing magic about "Lebkuchen" spice. The ingredients are well known and can be found all over the place. There is no single way to make it. So go ahead and make your ginger cookies or honey hearts or "Pfeffernüsse with what you can find and don't worry too much. It will taste great!

Recipe here
Also Known As: Neunerlei, Gingerbread spices
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