If You’re Really German, You Know All About Springerle and Lebkuchen | Zehnder's of Frankenmuth

If You’re Really German, You Know All About Springerle and Lebkuchen

By Executive Chef John Zehnder, CEC, ACE, HGT, AAC

There are two traditional German cookies that are a “must” for every German holiday cookie tray. Both Springerle and Lebkuchen have been enjoyed by holiday revelers since the Middle Ages.

Lebkuchen originated back in the 15th century in the City of Nuremberg. Located at the trading crossroads of Europe, Arab traders regularly sold their treasures of exotic spices from the Orient in the Nuremberg markets. Fragrant aromas of cinnamon, cloves, anise and fennel permeated the Nuremberg outdoor Christmas market each season. Almonds from Spain were readily available and honey from the Black Forest, the primary sweetener of the Middle Ages, was in common use. All one needed was a little flour and you had all the fixings for Lebkuchen.

Local monks were the first to bake Lebkuchen, but soon baker’s guilds began making these special Christmas treats. To this day, the Nuremberg Lebkuchen is the standard by which all Lebkuchen are judged.

Springerle, that white cookie with the intricate design, also has medieval origins, Springerle means “little knights” and can be traced back to the times of Martin Luther and the Renaissance. Pure white as snow, these cookies with their distinctive embossed designs are a staple of any real German Christmas celebration. Springerle get their unique taste from anise seeds embedded into the unbaked cookie dough. To this day, these cookies are lovingly embossed with a traditional figure. For centuries, these figures were hand carved in wood blocks or rolling pins and pressed into the dough. Most modern bakers prefer to use metal plates with designs in them. The impressions just hold up better during the baking process.

The answer to the obvious questions is: YES! We sell both Springerle and Lebkuchen in Zehnder’s Foodstore and on Zehnder’s Online Marketplace. Zehnder’s fruitcakes cost a little more, but they’re worth it!

So…when you’re in the mood for a taste of Germany around the holidays, think Zehnder’s Foodstore and have a Froehliche Weihnacthen (Merry Christmas)!