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"lebkuchen" (as The Professor's Wife Made Them) Recipe

Lebkuchen Recipe

History and Fun Facts:
Lebkuchen is a traditional German baked treat that dates back centuries. The word "lebkuchen" is derived from the Latin word "libum," meaning "sweet bread." It is believed to have been created in the 13th century by monks in Franconia, Germany. These spiced honey cakes were initially used as a way to preserve food during long winters.

Lebkuchen gained popularity due to its delicious flavor and its association with special occasions and holidays, especially Christmas. Over the years, various regions in Germany have developed their own versions of the recipe, each with its unique twist. It has become a beloved treat in many households, with different families passing down their own recipes through generations.

The following recipe for lebkuchen is based on the way "The Professor's Wife" made them, as mentioned in historical records. It incorporates the classic ingredients and methods that have stood the test of time.

Ingredients:
- 2 pounds of sugar
- 8 large eggs
- 3/4 pound of almonds (shelled)
- 1/4 pound of citron
- 1/4 pound each of candied orange and lemon peel
- The grated yellow rind of one lemon
- 4 teaspoonfuls of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoonful of allspice
- About 2 pounds of flour (adjust as needed)

Instructions:
1. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks and whites in separate bowls.

2. In a mixing bowl, cream the yolks of eggs and sugar together until well combined and creamy.

3. Blanch the almonds by pouring boiling water over them. This will help loosen the skins, making them easier to remove. Remove the skins from the almonds and then chop them finely.

4. Chop the citron, candied orange, and lemon peel into small pieces.

5. Add the chopped almonds, citron, candied orange, lemon peel, and grated lemon rind to the mixing bowl with the egg and sugar mixture. Mix well.

6. Add the cinnamon and allspice to the mixture, ensuring it is evenly distributed.

7. In a separate bowl, sift the flour to remove any lumps.

8. Gradually add the sifted flour to the mixing bowl, alternating with the stiffly beaten egg whites. Mix well after each addition.

9. Adjust the amount of flour as necessary. The original recipe calls for two pounds of flour, but "Frau" Schmidt suggested adding just enough flour to prevent the mixture from spreading when dropped on the baking sheet by tablespoonfuls.

10. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

11. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

12. Drop tablespoonfuls of the lebkuchen mixture onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving enough space between each for spreading.

13. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown.

14. Remove from the oven and allow the lebkuchen to cool completely on wire racks.

Once cooled, the lebkuchen can be enjoyed as is or decorated with a glaze or icing, according to personal preference.

Similar Recipe Dishes:
Lebkuchen is part of a diverse family of spiced honey cakes and treats enjoyed in different cultures around the world. Some similar recipe dishes include:

1. Pfeffernüsse: These German spiced cookies are similar to lebkuchen but are usually smaller in size and shaped into small balls. They are heavily spiced with pepper and other warm spices.

2. Speculoos: Also known as Dutch Windmill Cookies, speculoos are spiced shortcrust cookies popular in Belgium and the Netherlands. They are often shaped with intricate designs and can be enjoyed as a simple cookie or used as a spread.

3. Pain d'épices: This French honey and spice bread is reminiscent of lebkuchen but typically softer and denser. It is often enjoyed sliced and spread with butter or as a base for various desserts.

4. Gingerbread: Gingerbread is a well-known and loved treat worldwide, with variations in different countries. Its similarity to lebkuchen lies in the use of spices and honey or molasses, but the specific flavor profile and texture may differ.

These treats may vary in ingredients and preparation methods but share a common bond in being delicious, spiced, and often associated with festive occasions.

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