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Catholic Recipe: Valentine Gingerbread


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 3/4 cup dark molasses
  • Details

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 11+
  • Origin:

Also Called: Life Cakes; Lebzelten; Life Cake; Lebkucken; Life Cookies; Lebkuchen

This is an Austrian recipe for Life Cakes or Gingerbread. These Life Cakes are used as Christmas gifts as well as Valentines. They are usually rolled and cut in the shape of hearts. They then are decorated with colored icing scrolls and liturgical symbols. Many of these gingerbread Valentines were molded, and the old decorative molds are prized as antiques in England much as butter molds are collected in America. The Pump Room Museum at Bath has quite a collection of Valentine cutters for gingerbread. Our recipe is a very old one, but our trimmings are as modern as our mood permits. The heart, however, is both the foundation and the spirit.

This gingerbread is rolled and cut in the shape of hearts, and then decorated with colored icing scrolls and liturgical symbols.


Cream shortening and sugar. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with molasses. Roll on floured board. Cut into large six-inch hearts. Bake on a cookie sheet in a moderate oven (300°) for 45 minutes.

Recipe Source: Cooking for Christ by Florence Berger, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 4625 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50310, 1949, 1999
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