Evidence and Resources
More about cooking in history
Food, cookery and recipes
Lebkuchen (honey cakes) have been popular in Europe as a Christmas treat since medieval times.
The city of Nuremberg became famous for its Lebkuchen, which was made by monks.
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Here’s the recipe for Lebkuchen we ate in our Christmas session.
Our recipe was adapted from one created by Emma Lewis for BBC Good Food magazine. You can find the original here:
250g plain flour
85g ground almonds
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml clear honey
85g unsalted butter
pinch each ground cloves, grated nutmeg and black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
For the icing (optional)
100g icing sugar
i egg white (beaten)
Tip the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Heat the honey and butter in a pan over a low heat until the butter melts, then pour into the flour mixture along with the lemon zest. Mix well until the dough is combined and fairly solid. Cover and leave to cool.
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Using your hands, roll dough into about 30 balls, each 3cm wide, then flatten each one slightly into a disk. Divide the biscuits between two baking trays lined with baking parchment, leaving room for them to expand. Bake for 15 mins, then cool on a wire rack.
To ice the biscuits, mix together the icing sugar, egg white and 1-2 tbsp water to form a smooth, runny icing. Dip the top of each biscuit in the icing and spread with the back of a knife. Leave in a warm place.
Marchpane, an early version of marzipan, known since Tudor times. Here is a recipe for marchpane dating from 1664.
Take two pounds of almonds blanch’t and beaten in a stone mortar, till they begin to come to a fine paste, then take a pound of sifted sugar, put it in the mortar with the almonds, and make it into a perfect paste, putting to it now and then in the beating of it a spoonful of rose-water, to keep it from oyling; when you beat it to a puff paste, drive it out as big as a charger, and set an edge about it as you do upon a quodling tart, and a bottom of wafers under it, thus bake it in an oven or baking pan; when you see it is white, hard, and dry, take it out, and ice it with rose-water and sugar being made as thick as butter for fritters, to spread it on with a wing feather, and put it into the oven again; when you see it rise high, then take it out and garnish it with some pretty conceits made of the same stuff, slick long comfets upright on it, and so serve it.
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Fondant creams have been popular for centuries. There are many traditional ways to decorate and flavour them. We made these fondant creams, very which were very popular during the Regency period. This recipe is based on one we found on the Good Housekeeping website:
1 large egg white
Few drops peppermint, lemon or orange extract; or vanilla or coffee essence
325gms icing sugar, plus extra to dust
Dried fruit or nuts,' 100s and 1000s, gold paste or powder to decorate.
In a large bowl, whisk egg white and peppermint essence until frothy but not stiff. Sift in icing sugar and stir to make a stiff mixture.
Tip mixture on to a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar and knead until smooth. Re-dust the surface with icing sugar and roll out the mixture until it's 5mm (¼in) thick.
Use any cutters you like to cut out small shapes and arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Re-roll mixture as necessary. Leave shapes to harden in a warm place overnight.
Store peppermint creams in airtight containers for up to two months. Pack in boxes or tins lined with tissue paper before giving as a gift.