Heady with a homemade lebkuchen spice mix, this one-bowl, marmalade-spiked and chocolate-covered cake is great with a cup of tea or coffee. It’s more than a gingerbread!
A homemade spice mix and great marmalade are the keys to this moist, whole-grain German-inspired cake. The chocolate ganache covering is completely optional but does make this lebkuchen cake quite special. Again, good quality plain or dark chocolate will make the best topping. And best bowl licking. 🙂Lebkuchen are traditionally soft, spiced cookies or an unleavened cake, the latter akin to a similar cake made by German monks from the 13th century onwards. It is thought to have originally been a honey cake, hinted at by its name – lebbe, meaning very sweet, and kuchen, of course, meaning cake. But other interpretations point towards the leb meaning life, or leibspeise, meaning favourite food.
Whatever its original meaning and recipe, today’s iterations of lebkuchen are various, including nuts and spices such as aniseed, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. They can be small and round, or as large as dinner plates; heart-shaped and decorated intricately in fine white icing, too. If you’ve ever been to a German Christmas market – or been to Aldi or Lidl at this time of year – you will be familiar with this supremely festive and Christmassy biscuit.
Today’s recipe is a culinary mash-up in the best kind of way: chocolate and orange are quintessential British Christmas favourites but go brilliantly with the warm spices of lebkuchen. And I’ve made it a cake to cut out the faff. And dodge the inevitable temptation to go wild with an icing pen (my fine motor skills are rubbish).
I made a couple of versions of this lebkuchen cake before I settled on this version. It is easy to make and you don’t need a mixer if you don’t have one. In fact, it is a one-bowl bake, so perfect for whipping up at the last minute over the festive season. Even better, the cake can be eaten freshly made or after keeping under wraps for a few days. You can freeze it, too. Those chewy bits of marmalade will keep it all moist and craveable.
You will note that I have made this with self-raising wholemeal flour. I have also made it with whole grain gluten-free flour from Free From Fairy. Both are fab. I haven’t made it with plain flour but it should work just fine. Do keep the ground almonds if you are going with the white plain flour as it will make it toastier-tasting and of course give a little fiber.
I will be coming back to help you use up the lebkuchen spice mix. Look out for a quick breakfast post in the next few days. Incentive: you may be able to cover this next recipe in chocolate, too. 😉
One-Bowl Chocolate-Orange Lebkuchen Cake (German Spice Cake)
Heady with a homemade lebkuchen spice mix, this one-bowl, marmalade-spiked and chocolate-covered cake is great with a cup of tea or coffee. It’s more than a gingerbread! xx
150g softened butter or dairy-free baking spread
100g dark brown sugar/muscovado sugar – free-flowing if possible
2 medium eggs, lightly whisked or eggs shaken vigorously before cracking (I’ve not tried this with flax eggs but it should work)
125g best coarse-shred marmalade
30ml dark treacle or molasses
100g self-raising wholemeal flour
50g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp + 1 tsp lebkuchen spice mix (see below)
Lebkuchen Spice Mix – Sieve/mix together and store in a lidded jar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground anise seed or fennel seeds (I use anise seeds)
Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/350F. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter/spread and sugar until fluffy and light. By hand, this will take a strong arm but with electric beaters about two minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time with a pinch of the flour. Beat in the marmalade and treacle. The mix may look split but it sorts itself out when the flour is added.
Sift over the flour, spices and baking powder, shaking in any bran that remains in the sieve. Add the almonds and mix all until well amalgamated and a soft dropping consistency. Pour into the lined tin and place in the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before lifting by the paper and cooling on a baking rack.
Simple Chocolate Ganache (optional) When the cake is cooled, prepare a simple ganache by bringing a few centimetres of water to simmer in a bain marie/double boiler. Add 55g of butter and 125g chopped best dark or plain chocolate to the top pot and set over the simmering water. Cover the pan and turn off the heat. Allow the ingredients to melt, mixing once or twice. Let the ganache cool to thick double cream texture before pouring over the cake (the cake on baking parchment or large plate). Top with orange zest and dehydrated orange slices if you wish.
RIPE FOR PINNING!