Recipe: Wiener Lebkuchen

Those with discerning tastebuds might detect my rage in each bite.

Those with discerning tastebuds might detect my rage in each bite.

Around the holidays you can buy buckets of pre-made lebkuchen dough at the grocery store, and now I know why. This recipe yields a dough that is so difficult to work with that there is no reason to put yourself through it unless you’re really mad about something and want to take it out on an inanimate object to avoid jail time.

The dough turned into a hard, gooey mass overnight and it took me an hour to get it to where I could roll it out. First I incorporated the extra flour and seasoning by doing some preliminary hand kneading, then I transferred it to my stand mixer in two batches. This only partially got the dough together, so I did another round of hand kneading and machine mixing. The dough broke one of the paddle attachments.

But the ordeal didn’t end there. I slightly bent the handles on my rolling pin before I gave up using them, and used only the middle part of the pin to roll. Even standing on my tip toes and throwing my full body weight into the pin I had a hard time rolling the dough to 1/2″ thickness.

Of course, the cookies tasted good and everyone in my family really liked them, so I will likely be obliged to make them again. Dammit.

500 grams (18 oz) sugar
3/8 liter (13 oz) water
500 grams (18 oz) honey
1 kilograms + 40 dag (49 oz) flour, divided
1 pinch of baking powder
1 pinch of baking soda
1 piece zested orange peel
1 piece zested lemon peel
1 to 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
1 to 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg (to taste)
1/2 to 2/4 tsp ground clove (to taste)
1 to 1 1/2 tsp anise (to taste)
simple syrup made from sugar and water

1. Caramelize the sugar. To do this, put it in a ungreased pan with a wide bottom over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until the sugar starts to melt. Once it starts to melt stir continuously, breaking up clumps. Eventually the sugar will completely liquefy and turn reddish brown — caramel.

2. While the sugar is melting, heat 3/8 liter (13 oz) water in a separate wide-bottomed pan over low heat. When the sugar has become caramel, add it to the water. The mixture will hiss and boil at first, but this is OK. Completely dissolve the caramel in the water. It dissolves faster when left alone, with only the occasional scraping of clumps off the bottom and side with a wooden spoon.

3. Add the honey to the caramel water and heat thoroughly. Remove pot from heat and stir in 1 kilogram (35 oz) flour. Cover and let the dough rest for a day.

4. Add 40 dag. (14 oz) of flour and the remaining ingredients (except the simple syrup)and roll the dough out to a thickness of half an inch. Cut the dough to any shape and brush the tops of the cut-out shapes with water.

5. Bake at 350 degrees: the exact baking time depends on the thickness and size of the shape cut. The cookies that I made (pictured above) took about 25 minutes. Let the cookies cool slightly then brush the tops with a simple syrup.


Recipe: Sauerbraten mit Lebkuchen Sosse

Sauerbraten with red cabbage and my nemesis, the semmelknödel

Sauerbraten with red cabbage and my nemesis, the semmelknödel

700 ml red wine vinegar
700 ml water
7 cloves
2 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
2 large onions, sliced into rings
1 bunch soup vegetables, chopped*
1 kg beef, from the hip
Fat for frying
3 Tbsp red currant jelly
3 Tbsp apple butter
1 cup raisins
4 gingerbread (Aachen Kräuterprinten, if possible)

1. Combine the vinegar, water, cloves, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a large pot. Add the onions and soup vegetables to the pot, and bring everything to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Let cool.

2. Wash the beef and pat dry. Put the meat in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour the cooled broth over the beef. Cover with cling film and let stand in the refrigerator for 3 days, turning the meat after a day and a half.

3. Remove the meat from the bowl. Press the marinade through a sieve and collect the strained juices for the sauce. Discard the vegetables, etc. left behind in the sieve.

4. Heat a large, heavy pot and melt the fat. Brown the meat on all sides.

5. Pour the marinade over the meat and stir until it combines with pot juices to become a dark sauce.

6. Reduce the heat to low. Gradually add the currant jelly, apple butter, raisins, and gingerbread. If the sauce is too thin, add liquid cream and flour.

7. Transfer beef and sauce to a roasting pan and roast in the oven for two hours.

*Many grocery stores here sell packages of soup vegetables, which vary based on what vegetables are about to expire (I assume). The package that I bought for this recipe contained three orange carrots, two yellow carrots, two sticks of celery, leeks, two sprigs of parsley, and some random root vegetable called “peterwurz,” which translates to “peter turmeric.”

Neustifter Kirtag

Earlier in the spring I wrote about wine cultivation in Vienna and mentioned the Neustifter Kirtag. (The link to that post is here.) It’s now late August, and the Neustifter Kirtag is happening this weekend. My children’s kindergarten is on the street where the festival is held, and when I went to pick them up yesterday I had to dodge and weave my way through crowds of dirndl- and lederhosen-clad locals. I walked my kids through the festival yesterday and look forward to returning today to eat… well, everything in sight really. How can you blame me when this is some of what is on offer:

A whole cart dedicated to langos -- god bless whomever thought of this.

A whole cart dedicated to langos — god bless whomever thought of this.

They look so sweet until you read what they say. My favorite is "shit pants."

They look so sweet until you read what they say. My favorite is “shit pants.”



And hells yes. The Austrians know how to do it.

And hells yes. The Austrians know how to do it.




Cera Mel

During our aforementioned trip to Bratislava, we came across a honey shop called Cera Mel. We initially went in because there was a sign in the window advertising a 1 Euro cup of honey lemonade. It was a hot day and the promise of a refreshing lemonade was too tempting to pass up.

Upon entry, we were greeted by a table with many jars of honey, a cup of sticks, and a sign inviting us to try the honey. Long story short, I ended up leaving the store with two jars of honey (ginger honey and mountain honey) and a strong desire to return with a sturdy shopping bag to procure more.

I also left with a bag of these:



I’ll take it as the universe’s way of telling me that I really need to start learning how to make lebkuchen, and soon.