By Executive Chef John Zehnder, CEC, ACE, AAC, HGT
I can’t believe it’s almost the holiday season! ‘The most wonderful time of the year’! The holidays are all about family, food and traditions. Traditions are important when it comes to Christmas, especially if you’re of German heritage. And…at top the list of traditional German ‘must haves’ are lebkuchen and springerle; no respectable Christmas cookie platter in Frankenmuth is complete without springerle and lebkuchen.
Lebkuchen originated back in the 14th century in the city of Nuremberg, Germany. Located at the crossroads of the Far East trade routes, traders brought their treasures of exotic spices from the Orient to the markets of Nuremberg. Anise, cinnamon, ginger and cloves along with almonds from Spain were sold at the famous Christmas market of Nuremberg. Honey from the nearby Black Forest was readily available – the primary sweetening agent of the Middle Ages. Add a little flour and you have everything you need to make lebkuchen.
Local monks began baking lebkuchen as early as the 12th century to sell during the holidays to raise money for their monastery. The Nuremberg lebkuchen was and still is the standard by which all lebkuchen are judged.
Springerle also have a medieval origin. Springerle translated means ‘little knight’ and can be traced back to the times of Martin Luther and the Renaissance. Pure white as snow, these cookies are embossed with designs pressed into the raw cookie dough with carved wooden boards or rolling pins. Anise is the most prominent spice used to flavor these cookies.
Want to include lebkuchen and springerle into your holiday cookie platter without all the hassle and fuss? Here at Zehnder’s Foodstore we continue to carry on the German holiday traditions! We bake over 400 dozen each of springerle and lebkuchen every year during the Christmas season. Plus, we will normally have them on weekends throughout the year and take special orders at any time.
Did someone say ‘fruitcake’? No Christmas celebration is complete without a fruitcake. I know, ‘nobody likes fruitcake’! But… we sell 2,000 fruitcakes every year so we must be doing something right like using only quality candied fruit and nuts, not those nasty candied citron peels many bakers use to cut costs. Once you taste a Zehnder’s fruitcake, you’ll understand why so many folks change their mind and buy one to take home.
So come to Frankenmuth during the holidays and stop by Zehnder’s Foodstore and Bakery for some Christmas magic or purchase Zehnder’s holiday treats at Zehnder’s online marketplace.