Rye Lebkuchen

Rye Lebkuchen

by Amy Oboussier

Lebkuchen are a classic German Christmas gingerbread. Lebkuchen vary from region to region in sweetness, spices, raising method, texture and even name, sometimes being known as Pfefferkuchen or Honigkuchen. Most are sweetened with honey, strongly spiced and include nuts or candied fruit. Our recipe excludes nuts but uses rye flour. Rye flour is common in German baking and gives a nutty flavour and wholesome texture.

Decorations are up to you. I like the simplicity of using nuts and glacé cherries. Many recipes will include coating your lebkuchen in chocolate or a thin icing, though personally I find this too sugary, as they are already quite a sweet biscuit.

My first encounter with making Lebkuchen was with from Anja Dunk’s fabulous book on Festive German baking, Advent.

Makes roughly 20 biscuits


  • 110g Honey
  • 100g Brown Sugar
  • 65g Butter
  • 300g Wholemeal Rye Flour
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg white for brushing
  • 2½ tsp Lebkuchen Spice Mix (or 1tsp Cinnamon, 1tsp Ginger and ½tsp Clove)
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 40g Mixed Candied Peel
  • Zest of half an Orange
  • To decorate: Glacé cherries and blanched almonds


  1. Pre heat the oven to 160C/140 fan.
  2. Heat the honey, sugar and butter gently in a small saucepan until melted, stirring to combine. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl add the flour, 1 egg, spices, baking powder, candied peel, and orange zest. Pour over the cooled honey mixture and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, until well mixed. You should have quite a loose, sticky mixture.
  4. Set aside for an hour or two. In this time your dough will become stiffer and easier to work with.
  5. Flour your work surface. Roll out the dough to ½ cm thickness.
  6. Cut out shapes using a cookie cutter or glass. Traditional shapes are hearts, stars and circles.
  7. Place on a baking tray with baking parchment.
  8. Briefly knead your off-cuts of dough into a ball, roll out and cut. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
  9. Briefly whisk the egg white with a fork and brush over the biscuits.
  10. Decorate with glace cherries and blanched almonds, or as you wish, or not at all!
  11. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
  12. The biscuits should keep well in an airtight container for a few weeks.

Amy Oboussier
Amy Oboussier


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