Perfect Gingerbread for Houses and Christmas Tree Decoration

Perfekter Lebkuchen für Baumschmuck, Dekoration, Knusperhäuschen usw.

It was the end of November, we were living as poor university students at that point in Dresden, in the east of Germany. We had no clue what to do. Everybody around us seemed to be busy decorating the apartment with wood handcraft from the close Ore mountains. Nutcrackers, smoking manikins, “Schwippbögen”, these are usually showing the nativity, were unwrapped and placed throughout the apartment. We simply couldn’t afford German wood handcraft from the region and therefore only had bare walls to show. Our Christmas decorations? Nil, nada, inexistent. What to do if you can barely make ends meet? My solution was simple: gingerbread or German Lebkuchen. Gingerbread is perfect if you want to use it as decoration. Regardless if you wish to use it for a gingerbread house (or even village?), to decorate your Christmas tree with, or to make an advent calendar. Gingerbread was my solution to our Christmas decoration.

So I started and made a lot of batches. I cut out gingerbread cookies, I glued together gingerbread houses, I placed gingerbread men on the Christmas tree. Our entire apartment smelled like gingerbread and guests showered us with compliments. Our apartment looked all cozy and warm and the colors brown, white, red and greed dominated the atmosphere. My guests especially enjoyed when I asked them to eat some of the decoration. This was the best, eating Christmas decoration, which also served as a gift and food at the same time.

The following year we were still poor students and thus I made my gingerbread decorations again. My husband asked for this type of decoration during our third year and this is how our Christmas decoration was born. For that reason I always make gingerbread at the end of November. Year after year. It has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Yes, it does require a bit of work. First you have to make the dough, then you need to chill it, cut it out, decorate it with royal icing, and then hang it on the tree, etc. You will definitely spend a few hours on these cookies, especially decorating always requires more time than expected. But I love doing it. I especially love it this year. That’s because I found an old recipe book with handwritten recipes from my dear grandmother. Granny has a gingerbread recipe in there with detailed instructions as to how to cut it out and decorate. You will see a bit of the book on the pictures I took. Her recipe is titled “Gingerbread cookies for food lovers”. No better title than that. So the recipe below is my grandma’s gingerbread recipe. Granny, I will think of you all throughout the season when I smell the cookies from afar.

These are some tips I collected over the years when making gingerbread decoration:

  • If you wish to hang the cookies on a tree, be sure to make them small as chances are that they will fall off at some point if too heavy. I also recommend punching the holes prior baking only for the smaller cookies. The bigger ones you can punch with a needle after baking. Be sure to use thick yarn as otherwise the yarn cuts through the cookies faster.
  • If you want to make a gingerbread house, I recommend decorating each separately part before gluing them together.
  • I highly recommend using royal icing for gluing together a gingerbread house. If only using water/milk/lemon juice this definitely is not a sticky and doesn’t keep as well as egg white does.
  • If you keep royal icing in an airtight container, you can keep it chilled for about a week. Always cover and spray with water before further use.
  • Spraying water into royal icing is in my opinion the best way to get the right consistency. Writing or making small decorations requires a bit more liquid consistency than gluing parts together.
  • AI have successfully made name plates/invitations with gingerbread cookies. You may also want to make ugly sweaters with gingerbread (see pics).<
  • If gingerbread gets hard, add a small piece of apple or a slice of bread to soften inside the cookie box/container.

Perfect Gingerbread for Houses and Christmas Tree Decoration

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By My grandma
Prep Time: 1-3 hrs Cooking Time: 8-15min

This traditional gingerbread recipe from my grandma is perfect if you wish to make cookies, decorate your tree or want to make gingerbread houses. Prepared with honey.

Ingredients

  • Gingerbread
  • 100 grams of brown sugar
  • 250 grams of honey
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 500 grams of whole wheat flour or rye flour
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 package of gingerbread spice
  • 1 egg

  • Royal Icing
  • 1 egg white
  • About 200-250 grams of icing sugar

Instructions

1

For the gingerbread dough bring the sugar, honey, and butter to a boil and let chill. Meanwhile put flour and gingerbread spice in a large bowl. I only recommend adding baking soda if you want to eat the gingerbread soon after, otherwise prepare without any leavener as this will help the shapes to stay exactly the same. However, don't be concerned, the cookies/shapes will appear very hard when they come fresh from the oven and will only get softer over time. Add the slightly cooled-off butter mix and combine. Add the egg and beat until everything is nicely combined. Spoon on plastic wrap and chill in fridge for an hour or overnight. If wrapped tightly, the dough can be kept in the fridge for a week.

2

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes. For tiny gingerbread houses you can put on your mug, printables here how to make your own. If you wish to decorate your tree with gingerbread cookie, I recommend making them on the smalle side, about 5cm or smaller. If you want to make a gingerbread house, be sure not to roll out dough too thin. If using for the tree, put holes with a toothpick.

3

Bake cookies for about 8-15 minutes, depending on size at 180 degrees Celsius. If you are making a gingerbread house, cut of any crooked walls immediately after baking as the cookies will harden over time. If kept in a cookie box, you can leave the undecorated cookies for several weeks.

4

For the royal icing beat egg white with about 200 grams of icing sugar for about 5 minutes. It should become a glossy paste, similar to tooth paste. Add more sugar or water, depending on consistency. Decorate cookies as desired using a piping bag or cut off corner of a small plastic bag. Let cookies dry. Use a thicker thread if you want to hang the cookies on your Christmas tree. Gingerbread cookies keep for about four weeks and will get softer over time.

Perfekter Lebkuchen für Baumschmuck, Dekoration, Knusperhäuschen usw.If you would like to make the cute little gingerbread houses you can see on the pictures, I have another gingerbread house recipe plus printables here.

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    zorra vom kochtopf
    Monday December 9th, 2019 at 09:06 AM

    Oh, was für ein Schatz! Und das kleine Lebkuchenhäuschen ist so süss! Danke für das schöne Türchen Nr. 9.

    • Reply
      Jenny
      Monday December 9th, 2019 at 09:08 AM

      Danke, Zorra, dass ich mitmachen darf, immer wieder eine Ehre!

  • Reply
    Britta von Backmaedchen 1967
    Monday December 9th, 2019 at 09:28 AM

    Liebe Jenny,

    was für eine schöne Idee und wie hübsch die Lebkuchendeko ist, die Arbeit hat sich definitiv gelohnt.

    Liebe Grüße
    Britta

    • Reply
      Jenny
      Monday December 9th, 2019 at 09:46 AM

      Ganz lieben Dank dir, Britta!

  • Reply
    Tina von Küchenmomente
    Monday December 9th, 2019 at 07:42 PM

    Liebe Jenny,
    ich bin ja wirklich ein bisschen neidisch auf deinen supersüßen Lebkuchen-Baumschmuck. Lebkuchen backe ich zwar auch jedes Jahr, aber das mit dem Baumschmuck können wir wegen der Vierbeiner leider vergessen 🙁 . Obwohl…die sehen das wahrscheinlich ganz anders…
    Herzliche Grüße
    Tina

    • Reply
      Jenny
      Monday December 9th, 2019 at 07:54 PM

      Oh, das stimmt! Aber man kann sich ja auch auf den Kaminsims oder so Lebkuchenhäuschen stellen, nicht alles muss an den Baum…

  • Reply
    Kathrina
    Monday December 9th, 2019 at 09:58 PM

    Eine wirklich tolle Geschichte liebe Jenny. Ich bin ja auch ein bisschen neidisch auf das tolle Rezeptbuch deiner Oma. Und ich bin schockverliebt in deine kleinen Lebkuchenhäuschen. Gerade gestern habe ich mich mit einer anderen Bloggerin über diese kleinen Häuschen unterhalten und wir haben beide festgestellt, dass wir dafür vermutlich keine Geduld hätten.
    Liebe Grüße,
    Kathrina

    • Reply
      Jenny
      Tuesday December 10th, 2019 at 06:47 AM

      Danke, das Rezeptbuch meiner Oma halte ich hoch in Ehren.
      Und ich bin auch sonst nicht so gut mit so winzigen Sachen, aber hier mache ich eine Ausnahme.

  • Reply
    Conny
    Saturday December 14th, 2019 at 11:28 AM

    Liebe Jenny,
    der Aufwand lohnt sich wirklich – das sieht so toll aus. Das Schöne an Weihnachten sind gerade die Traditionen, die jede Familie für sich entwickelt hat, finde ich. Ich bewundere übrigens Deinen filigranen Umgang mit Zuckerguss. Bei mir endet das leider ganz oft in einer Riesen-Kleckserei… Hab eine schöne Adventszeit!
    Herzlichst, Conny

    • Reply
      Jenny
      Saturday December 14th, 2019 at 12:10 PM

      Liebe Conny, es geht ja immer noch filigraner, aber mein Tipp ist einfach mal mit großen Sachen anzufangen und dann jedes Jahr ein wenig kleinere Häuschen basteln 😉 Dieses Jahr will ich zum ersten Mal den Lebkuchen für kommendes Jahr aufbewahren, mal schauen, ob es klappt!

  • Reply
    Caroline | Linal's Backhimmel
    Wednesday December 25th, 2019 at 05:15 PM

    Oh, das ist ja wirklich eine tolle Geschichte mit eurer Lebkuchendekoration!
    Und es schaut wirklich traumhaft schön aus 🙂
    Weihnachtliche Grüße
    Caroline

    • Reply
      Jenny
      Wednesday December 25th, 2019 at 05:16 PM

      Danke dir!

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