Lebkuchen in Nuremberg? Yes! When in Nuremberg, you have to try their world famous gingerbreads! They have a very long history. From Nuremberg the love for gingerbread spread all over the world.
Find out more about the Nurenmberg Lebkuchen
History of Lebkuchen (gingerbread) in Germany
The honey cake of the pre-Christian times became the Lebkuchen (gingerbread) in the 13th century. In the monasteries, people liked to eat peppered Lebkuchen (gingerbread), the so-called “gingerbread”, with strong beer during Lent.
At that time “pepper” was the collective term for all spices, whose stomach-friendly effect was well known in monastery kitchens: They promote digestion and alleviate the feeling of fullness. So the resourceful monks seasoned their “panis piperatus” with everything that Venice’s liquor had to offer: with Cardamom and nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, anise and coriander, “Nägelein” (cloves) and of course with black pepper.
How did Nurenberg become famous for Lebkuchen (gingerbread)?
Nuremberg owes its fame and tradition as a Lebkuchen (gingerbread) metropolis to:
- Its convenient location – at the intersection of the old salt and trade routes, on which the “pepper sacks” rolled up from the Orient via Venice and Genoa: spice supplies for the bakeries of the hard-working gingerbread makers.
- The second important raw material came from the immediate vicinity: The immense jungle density around Nuremberg was not called “the German Empire’s bee garden” for nothing. For the so-called “Zeidler” the forest became the pasture for “his” wild bees and he delivered wax and honey to the city. The prospecting right for the “sweet gold” was documented since 1350 by Emperor Karl IV the Zeidlers.
By the way, honey remained the number one sweetener in the kitchen and in the gingerbread trade of the Middle Ages: East Indian cane sugar was far too rare and expensive. According to today’s monetary value, 50 kg cost between 600 and 700 euros.
Lebkuchen (gingerbread) delivery across the world
The Nuremberg Lebküchner (gingerbreads) have always baked not only for the needs of the Nuremberg residents, but also for long-distance trade. Nuremberg gingerbreads went “all over the world” on the old trade routes and with them the good reputation of this Nuremberg product. The name “Nürnberger Lebkuchen” is protected and anyone who treats themselves to them can be sure that they were also made in Nuremberg.
Types of Lebkuchen (gingerbread) you will find in Nuremberg
How did the Elisenlebkuchen get their name?
According to legend, the Elisen Lebkuchen got their name from a Nuremberg Lebküchner daughter named Elisabeth. The story goes that the Nuremberg gingerbread man loved his daughter very much and she was his everything, as his wife had already died of an illness. One day his beloved daughter also became seriously ill.
No doctor knew what to do and the gingerbread was close to despair. In his distress he thought of a very special cure. As a gingerbread man he knew the value of oriental spices and so he made a very special gingerbread for his Elisabeth. He left out the flour and only used the highest quality ingredients. And Elisabeth actually regained her strength and got well.
According to legend, the Elisenlebkuchen was named after Elisabeth. But no matter where the name really comes from and whether the legend really happened that way, the Elisenlebkuchen are a real treat. Even today, the Elisen Lebkuchen may contain a maximum of 10% flour and the spices cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom provide the typical gingerbread aroma.
- Why should Nürnberg be on your list of places to visit?
- The Nuremberg Rostbratwurst: Is it worth the hype?