This recipe comes from my nieces and nephews German grandmother Gertrude Zemp, whom we always called Grandma Gertie. She was a wonderful cook and made delightful German pastries including these Lebkuchen Bars, meaning "Lifecakes." This recipe is shared with me by my sister Linda.
Grandma Gertie would make these bars at least one month in advance, tightly wrapped in an air-tight container, as they improve with age. The scrumptious honey flavored bars are dense and chewy, filled with almonds, candied fruits, and spices. A simple icing of confectioners’ sugar and milk is spread over the bars when they are hot from the oven, creating a very thin crackly glaze.
5 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups unblanched almonds, finely chopped
¼ cup candied citron, finely chopped
¼ cup candied orange peel, finely chopped
2 cups honey (preferably clover honey)
2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup bourbon or whiskey
3 large eggs
1¼ cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
2 to 2 ½ tablespoons milk (preferably whole milk)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare one 12x17x1 inch Jelly Roll pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening, or line the pan with parchment paper, allowing overhang on all sides. Tip: rub a bit of vegetable shortening or butter in the bottom of the pan corners and well as the pan sides to help the parchment paper to stay in place.
- In a very large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Add the chopped almonds, candied citron, and candied orange peel; stir to thoroughly combine. Set aside. Tip: make sure and use a very large bowl as this is a large recipe.
- In top of a double boiler over hot water, combine the honey and sugar. Heat and stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is dissolved. Tip: test if the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a bit between your fingers; there should be no grittiness left from the sugar granules. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the hot water, the upper pan should not touch the water.
- When sugar is dissolved, remove pan from heat and set aside to cool to just slightly warm. Stir in the whiskey.
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the eggs, whisking about 1 minute. Add the eggs to the honey mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the honey and egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula or offset spatula. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and place on a wire cooling rack and spread icing over hot cookie.
- In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk; stir until smooth. Immediately spread the icing evenly over the hot baked cookie using a small offset spatula.
- Leave pan on wire cooling rack to cool completely, from 2 to 4 hours, before cutting. When cool, use the parchment overhang to lift cookie from the pan, and cut into 1½ to 2 inch squares. Tip: My favorite tool to cut bars is a stainless steel dough scraper; simply push the dough scraper straight down into the cookie for straight cuts. Or use a pizza cutter or small kitchen knife to cut the cookie into squares.
Storing and Aging:
- The bars can be eaten immediately; however they are best when allowed to age at least 1 to 4 weeks or longer. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil, and then place in a sealed plastic freezer bag.
Source: What’s Cooking America
Description: Bar Cookie with Fruit and Nuts
Pan: One 12"x17"x1" Jelly Roll
Pan Prep: Lightly Greased or Parchment Lined
Oven Temp: 375o
Prep Time: 1 Hour
Baking Time: 30 to 40 Minutes
Yield: 5 Dozen Bars
Storage: Airtight Container, Room Temperature
Recipe Type: Cookie, Honey, Almonds, Candied Fruit, Christmas
Help: Cookie Hints
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