Posted by: internationalroutier | December 7, 2009


This post is for those who wish to work a little Christmas spirit into their reenacting; or more probably a little reenactment spirit into their Christmas.
Pfefferkuchen (“pepper cakes”) belong to that fabulous family of German biscuits full of glorious spices, often including pepper, but really the name came from the habit of calling all imported spices ‘pepper’. The first mention of pfefferkuchen comes in 1558 as a decree allowing 8 bakers from Pulsnitzer to produce it. Pulsnitzer is about 50km from Dresden and even today in the Striezelmarkt (a Christmas market running in Dresden since the 1430’s) Pulsnitzer Pfefferkuchen is highly sought after.
Similar English recipes from the period use breadcrumbs as the base with honey or red wine added as well as the spices- cinnamon, saffron, pepper, anise and ginger are all used in varying combinations and amounts. The absence of fat is the same as in Pulsnitzer Pfefferkuchen recipes, however traditional pfefferkuchen recipes have a maturing time, sometimes as long as 6 months before baking which the English recipes do not. The recipe I will print is a modern one, but does seem to share many of the characteristics described in the ‘traditional’ (ie. 400 yr old tradition not the tradition from my Grandma) recipe. The dough sits in the fridge for a couple of weeks before baking so if you whip up a batch this weekend you can bake almost effortlessly on Christmas Eve like some kind of 16thC Nigella.
* 3/4 c honey
* 3 c sugar
* 4 to 6 T rum (capital T being Tablespoon, small t equals a teaspoon)
* 1/2 T baking powder
* 1 T baking soda
* 6 1/4 c flour
* Either:
o 1/3 c citron, finely chopped
o 1/3 c candied ginger, finely chopped
* 1/2 c sliced almonds, ground
* 1 T cocoa
* 1 T cloves
* 1 T cinnamon
* grated zest of one lemon
* 4 eggs

Optional Lemon glaze:

* 2 1/2 T hot water
* 1 1/4 t lemon extract
* 1 1/4 c powdered sugar.

Heat the honey, in a double boiler, add sugar and stir over heat until dissolved. Dissolve baking powder and baking soda in rum. Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add honey-sugar mixture, rum-leavening mixture and eggs to dry ingredients. Using a stand mixer or your hands, mix together until combined. If the dough is dry and crumbly, add up to two more tablespoons rum to bring dough together. Once the dough comes together, knead quickly on your work surface.

Place into an large airtight container . If there is a large gap to the top, cover with plastic wrap. Store in your refrigerator for two to three weeks.

Preheat oven to a very slow 125 degrees C. Roll dough very thin, cut with cutters, and bake on parchment-lined sheets 15 to 17 minutes. Cool. Whisk together the ingredients for the lemon glaze until all lumps are gone. Brush with glaze. Store in an airtight container.

And now for the obligatory silliness.



  1. What puzzles me is that the link explaining the Streizelmarkt is on an astronomy site.

  2. Pfefferkuchen works in mysterious ways.

  3. I made Pebbernodde for New Year. Very nice, but nothing like Pfefferkuchen. They would actually make a good alternative for shot…

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