box with Lebkuchen© Braunschweig Stadtmarketing GmbH / Marek Kruszewski

Lebkuchen and Braunschweig simply belong together! After all, in medieval times, Braunschweig was an important hub for Lebkuchen baking, just like Nuremberg and Aachen. Back then, every region had its own recipes for the popular cakes, and they were not only baked during the Christmas season. More recently, bakers in Braunschweig decided to revive this tradition a few years ago. During the Advent season, we can now once more enjoy Braunschweiger Biberle, gingerbread and authentic honey cake from Braunschweig.

Lebkuchen from Braunschweig had been all but forgotten. And yet, in medieval times, our city was famous for its gingerbread and company. Back then, its long shelf life made Lebkuchen a popular provision for long journeys. The spicy cakes were available year round, not just during the pre-Christmas season like today.

As there was no single recipe for Lebkuchen in the early Middle Ages, there were as many different types as there were bakers. Each one mixed and spiced the cakes to their own taste, and over the years, regional specialities evolved.

Exotic spices thanks to Braunschweig’s location on major trade routes

It is the major commercial towns that boast a long tradition of Lebkuchen. At the crossroads of important trade routes, where travelling merchants and traders met, it was easy to obtain the exotic spices that give the cakes their characteristic taste. Braunschweig was one such town and it is therefore not surprising that Lebkuchen was produced here as early as in medieval times.

Since 2009, several traditional bakers in Braunschweig have relaunched these delicious specialities – using old recipes and traditional ingredients. In cooperation with Braunschweig Stadtmarketing GmbH, they have revived this centuries-old tradition. Since 2010, you can even find Lebkuchen with Mumme – in this way, local bakers are also continuing the tradition of finding original and inventive ideas to spice up their Lebkuchen.

Did the name derive from the form?

There is still debate today about how the cakes came to be called Lebkuchen. It is likely that the name derives from the Latin word “libum”, meaning round flat bread or cake. The names honey cake and gingerbread are easily explained with the ingredients: lots of honey and exotic spices, generally called ginger in colloquial language.

Explanations and hints

Picture credits

  • Braunschweig Stadtmarketing GmbH / Marek Kruszewski