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Gingerbread according to the original Nuremberg recipe

There are countless recipes, variations and shapes of gingerbread all over the world, but Nuremberg gingerbread is something very special.

Often referred to simply as "gingerbread" in English, the Nuremberg gingerbread has a firm place among the world's culinary Christmas specialties. It bears no resemblance to the widely known "Gingerbread Man". Even the translation "Gingerbread" - in German "Ingwer-Brot" - may be confusing. The history of the Nuremberg gingerbread began about 600 years ago, when it was still called honey cake: For the monks in the monasteries, honey cake with its nutritious ingredients was part of a healthy diet and lifestyle during Lent. When Nuremberg, then the hub of the European spice trade, gained a monopoly on numerous spices, the original recipe for honey cake underwent significant changes. Flour and the precious honey were no longer the main ingredients. A number of high-quality, tasty spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and aniseed , which were by now widely available, were added.


They come in countless shapes at the Christkindlesmarkt: Nuremberg gingerbread.

Often copied, never achieved

From the 14th century onwards, gingerbread was also baked outside the monastery walls. In fact, a historical document records the first registered Nuremberg gingerbread baker in 1395. Since then, the recipe has been copied countless times. Today, the specifics of Elisenlebkuchen and Oblatenlebkuchen are strictly regulated. The latter is usually sold in supermarkets and has a higher flour content. An Elisenlebkuchen, on the other hand, must contain at least 25 per cent ground nuts and be covered with a high-quality icing, for example made of chocolate. At each of its trade fairs, NürnbergMesse provides a traditional gingerbread stand for the physical well-being of the numerous international visitors. Often copied but never equalled, the Nuremberg gingerbread is still one of the most famous and popular brands and souvenirs from Nuremberg.

Image credits:

  • Foto: Lebkuchen Schmidt