Catholic Recipe: Christmas Baking: Lebkuchen II
Also Called: Lebzelten; Life Cake; Lebkucken; Life cookies
On the old feast of St. Thomas' Day (December 21), Christmas baking begins, and from now on the house will be filled with a cloud of delicious smells. Some of this Christmas baking — the choicest delicacies in the realm of cookies and candies — will be hung on the Christmas tree, which is altogether different from an American one. Of the many varieties we always preferred the cookies known as Lebkuchen (or Lebzelten).
Lebkuchen means "bread of life," and the name seems to be more than a coincidence when one thinks of it as the traditional bread baked for the birthday of the One Who said, "I have come that you may have life and that you may have it more abundantly." To Austrians, there are some cookies so connected with Christmas that they are an absolute "must." Of these, Lebkuchen is Number One.
They get better with age, and they are responsible for the unique scent known in our family as "Christmas smell."
Dissolve powdered carbonate of potassium (baking soda) in the rum or wine. Sift the spices with the flour. Add the citron. Beat the eggs, add the sugar and the remaining ingredients. Roll on board 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2-by-3-inch squares. Lay on greased tins; let stand in cool place overnight. Bake at 325° F. for 25 minutes and frost with plain icing.Recipe Source: Around the Year with the Trapp Family by Maria Augusta Trapp, Pantheon Books Inc., New York, New York, 1955