Friday, December 17, 2010

Lebkuchen the Luxemburg way

Every country has its kitchen bible, the book that taught housewives how to cook and fashionned the way generations have eaten since WW2. In the US, you have The Joy of Cooking, in the UK, Delia perhaps, in France Ginette Mathiot and Françoise Bernard are the top contenders. Luxemburg is no different. Except the name of the lady probably never made it past the border. Ketty Thull was a domestic science teacher and her book is the bestselling cookbook in this country. It's been republished many times and she even has streets named after her.
PS : got this mint copy of the JoC for $5 in New York!
I had my eye on this book with its cute play kitchen on the cover, and was super happy to receive it as a present from my friend Diane and her husband Claude, my reference in all things Luxemburg. Villmols Merci!

This book has advice on nutrition and every recipe anyone ever needed. My friends said their mums cooked only from it so it's stuff they grew up on. And as you would expect in Luxemburg, it has a fairly good mix of French-, and German-inspired recipes with the local staples too (it is written in German). Luxemburg specialties include Bounenschlupp, a green bean soup, Judd mat Bounen, salted pork knuckles with fava beans, kachkéis, a cheese spread, among others.

I will probably come back with a more typical recipe in the future, but what with Xmas coming up, I thought this spicy biscuit recipe would be more seasonal.

Here's the recipe that I only slightly adapted.

500g flour ( I included about 100g wholewheat)
250g honey
125g sugar
50g butter
2 eggs
150g ground hazelnuts (with skins on)
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 sachet baking powder (about 1 generous tbsp)

Heat the butter, honey and sugar until melted. Let cool a little.
Mix the dry ingredients and slowly combine them with the melted honey mix. Add the eggs and mix.
Let the dough rest for a couple of hours or overnight in a cool place. Roll out to the thickness of a pencil(!) and cut out shapes. Bake at 180°-190°C. Glaze with royal icing or chocolate glaze.

Royal icing is a mixture of icing sugar, egg white and a few drops of lemon juice. If, like me, you're worried about the raw egg contents -I broke the yolk!- you can let the icing dry in a low oven (80°C) for 10 minutes.

The biscuits are dry and crunchy and the perfect accompaniment to acup of Christmas-flavoured tea. I think that if you put a slice of apple in the tin they soften, but I quite like them the way they are.

Schéi Chreschtdeeg! (Happy Christmas!)

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