When it comes to Christmas, the Germans really know what’s what. We have them to thank for Christmas trees, the most magical of Christmas markets, and some of the most delicious festive treats. The most famous of all — the soft, spiced, honey biscuits called lebkuchen — have to be prepared months in advance, and when Lidl sell them at bargain prices, there’s really no point in making your own. Some simpler recipes, however, are perfect for the home cook, and there are few better ways to get into the festive mood than catching the scent of Christmas wafting through the house as these traditional Schwabian “snowflake” biscuits bake.
Ingredients (makes 24)
250g butter, at room temperature
100g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
100g plain flour
Finely grated zest of 1/2 an orange
1/4 tsp of each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
Lots of extra icing sugar for dusting
And how to do it…
Line two baking trays with baking paper and heat the oven to 180 C.
Sift together the flour and cornflour with the spices and set aside.
Beat the butter in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the icing sugar and continue to beat until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and orange zest.
Gradually add the flour mixture, beating well to form a smooth dough.
Form the mixture into small balls about the size of a large walnut. Place them on the baking trays leaving a 4 cm space around each biscuit.
Press a fork on each ball of dough to flatten it and form a ridged pattern.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, taking care not to let the biscuits get too dark: they should be very a pale golden colour.
Dredge with a generous snowy blanket of icing sugar while still hot, and leave to cool before serving with mulled wine!