Ahhh, the holiday baking season in Germany! The smells of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamon, caramel and chocolate waft through the house. Children run around in excitement as they wait for the taste of cookie batter on spoons!
The holiday season is peak season for home bakers to practice their skills, and pass them on to their children. Christmas cookies are a fun way to get started, even for people with little baking experience. The recipes are usually fairly simple and straightforward, requiring only pantry staples and a few special seasonal spices. We have gathered delicious and authentic recipes here suitable for both novices and master bakers. These include Weckmännchen, Butterkekse, Spekulatius, Lebkuchen, Aachner Printen, Dominosteine, Pfeffernüsse, Zimtsterne, Dresdner Stollen, Honigkuchen, Makronen and, of course, Marzipan. Most are easily baked at home.
A few classic German holiday recipes are definitely for the experienced baker! In the case of Stollen and Lebkuchen, the recipes and methods have been refined over centuries. For the best experience of the real thing, you might want to buy the finished product from a master confectioner, imported from Germany. You can find an excellent selection of Christmas specialties for sale on our sister site The Taste of Germany.
Recipes for Holiday Baking
Our collection of authentic German Christmas cookies is so big it needed it’s own page! You’ll find recipes for all the classics from Aachener Printen to Butterkekse to Lebkuchen, Marzipan, Spekulatius, and Zimtsterne.
Lightly sweet and absolutely scrumptious, this wonderful yeast bread is perfect for a holiday breakfast or brunch.
A very special Christmas treat. Stollen is a rich, sweet cake filled with fruits and nuts. Stollen from Dresden are particularly well-known. A masterpiece of baking, treasured around the world. The product’s long shelf life also makes it a perfect gift for any food lover.
German dark chocolate gingerbread cake full of deep, rich flavors looks great baked in a Bundt pan and dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
Honey-sweet, richly spiced ginger Lebkuchen come in three basic varieties – plain, chocolate covered or sugar glazed. While they are available in different shapes like hearts, the classic Lebkuchen is round.
Gingerbread houses are often old-fashioned looking, but they don’t have to be. Let this recipe for a townhouse with a garage and a skylight be your guide to all kinds of modern, whimsical possibilities. Use German cookies and candies to make it authentic, as gingerbread houses were first made as a Christmas tradition in Germany.
Special Seasonal Ingredients for Holiday Baking
You may not find these ingredients in everyone’s pantry. Most are available at well-stocked specialty food stores, and from our sister site The Taste of Germany.
Baking wafers (Backoblaten)
In North America the use of wafers is usually limited to communion in church services, in Germany they have long been used as a holiday baking ingredient, primarily for Christmas cookies, where the Backoblaten) provide a sturdy cookie base.
Candied citrus peel
The two most renowned German Christmas treats, Lebkuchen (ginger bread) and Stollen (sweet bread), both require candied citrus peel as a basic ingredient. In Germany two basic varieties are sold – Zitronat, which is candied lemon or lime peel and Orangeat, which is candied orange peel. These ingredients are sold in diced form in small containers.
Gingerbread spice is a wonderfully fragrant mixture of ground spices including cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, mace, ginger, allspice, coriander, and cardamom.
Whole hazelnuts are available during the holiday season in most well-stocked grocery stores. However the ground version is still fairly hard to find. Hazelnuts are not as easy to peel as almonds, so if a recipe requires ground hazelnuts, it might be worth finding a store which carries German baking ingredients or buying them online.
Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar and ground almonds. It derives its characteristic flavor from bitter almonds, which constitute 4% to 6% of the total almond content by weight. Some marzipan is also flavored with rosewater. Marzipan is available as a holiday baking ingredient as a paste or in bars. Consumer-ready marzipan products include chocolate covered marzipan bars or marzipan-filled chocolate as well as small marzipan imitations of animals, fruits and vegetables. It is also used to decorate cakes. During Advent and Christmas season, marzipan is an indispensable ingredient in Stollen, cakes and Christmas cookies.