nun’s lebkuchen

hello, weekend! well, have i ever really told you about the place where i grew up? near lucerne (which, btw, is only the most beautiful city in switzerland, sorry, zurich)? where the mountains flow into the lakes. in primary school, i had to walk 3km to school and back, twice a day. oh, and we had cows in our backyard. so, naturally, we spent a lot of time out and about when we were young. i remember expeditions to the nearby creek, with my polka dotted rubber boots. i remember knowing the trees and bushes and grasses and flowers by heart. i remember eating beechnuts straight from the trees, finding wild garlic, baskets full of chestnuts, wild herbs like mantel and wild mushrooms in the fall. i remember eating raspberries and apples and cherries and red curratns straight from the trees and bushes, while they were still warm from the sunshine. my feet were never really clean, but they were familiar with the sensation of cool, humid grass on naked soles (and occasionally, a stray slug, iewww…). we wanted to stay up as long as the sun was up, or longer. a new pile of street chalk kept me busy for a day. the neighborhood was my playground. it was bliss. 
those are the memories i associate with my childhood and growing up on the countryside. this  gingerbread like cake shaped or sized as cookies – since they were intended to be given away as  provisions for the road for my supper guests last week – is a recipe from the convent in the canton in which i live. the nuns there have a stock of home made goods, and, well, lebkuchen must be part of it, since it’s a local favorite. i love food that triggers good memories. i can almost feel my childhood with these. 
nun’s lebkuchen
500 g sugar
500 g pear honey
1.4 kg flour
30 g gingerbread spice
20 g bakers’ ammonia (available at drugstores)
3 dl milk
200 hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
200 g sultanas
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 cl milk
1 lemon, zest
combine sugar and pear honey in a small saucepan, and warm until sugar is dissolved. put the flour, gingerbread spice, hazelnuts and sultanas in a bowl. dissolve the bakers’ ammonia in the milk. add the milk and sugar-honey mix to the dry flour. combine to a dough (this will need a little kneading). let the dough rest for 2 hours. roll out the dough to about 1cm thickness and cut out circles of about 15cm in size. put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. if you like, press in a star or heart shape with a cookie cutter. bake at 160c / 320f for 25 to 30 minutes (depending on size). note: the lebkuchen will still be soft when coming from the oven but will harden later, so make sure not to overbake. 
while baking, prepare the glaze with the confectioners’ sugar, a little milk and the lemon zest. brush the lebkuchen while still warm. let cool and dry. 
ps: a special thanks to en soie in zurich for kindly offering me to borrough their beautiful, classy vichy plates for the occasion of my last fork and flower supper with the ‘soirée chalet’ theme. your vichy plates make everything more beautiful. sighs. i’ll post the menu and more pictures of it here asap. xx

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