As soon as Advent Sunday arrives, the Christmas markets in every small and big city throughout the country are filled with delicious winter food, hand-made Christmas toys and festive decorations. The sweet smell of Glühwein (hot spiced wine) fills the cold air and warms the often very cheerful visitors; and as rule of thumb the level of cheerfulness rises with every additional cup!
Fortunately, the traditional winter foods are not only to be found in Christmas markets. Germans love baking and cooking the culinary treats at home and most of them are easy to make. The following list contains the most popular German Christmas treats:
Lebkuchen – Ginger Bread
The history of this traditional cake goes back to the 13th century. Invented by monks near Nürnberg, this city is today the most famous producer of the “Nürnberger Lebkuchen“.
The ingredients usually include honey, candied fruits, oriental spices, such as cinnamon, coriander, aniseed, ginger, and nuts including hezelnuts, walnuts and almonds. For an appealing look, they are often glazed or covered with dark chocolate or sugar icing, but some are left uncoated. A romantic and very popular variation of the Lebkuchen is the Lebkuchenherz, which has the shape of a heart. Newly enamoured often write the name of their sweetheart with icing on the Lebkuchenherz. Another famous variation and fun to make at home is the Lebkuchenhaus; a construct of several ginger bread slides which was made popular by the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.
Tempted to try it out? Here is a traditional recipe for German Lebkuchen
Glühwein – Mulled Wine
As already mentioned, this hot, alcoholic beverage is the centre of every Christmas market visit. The basis is red wine with added spices like aniseed, cloves, cinnamon, lemon zest and sugar; heated in a kettle above a fireplace. Another popular winter beverage is the Feuerzangenbowle. This variation of the traditional Glühwein contains more alcohol because it has added pure rum and a rum soaked sugar loaf which is inflamed and caramelized before it drips into the wine. This winter treat is easy to make at home but make sure to broil the wine only up to 78 degrees, otherwise the alcohol will start to evaporate.
Bratapfel – Baked Apple
This winter speciality fills the whole home with an aromatic cinnamon and apple smell while baked in the oven. A sour apple is filled with the usual suspects – cloves, cinnamon, nuts, almond paste and raisins. After about one hour in the oven, the peel starts to burst and the apple is soft, containing all the amazing aromas inside. Usually it is served with warm vanilla sauce.
Want to fill your home with a delicious smell and taste an amazing blend of winter spices? Click here for the recipe.
Weihnachtsgans – Christmas Goose
The culinary center point of every traditional Christmas meal in Germany is definitely the Weihnachtsgans. The history of this deliciously prepared goose dates back to a Catholic custom of the 11th century, when a duck was served before the beginning of the fasting period; starting on the 11th of december and ending on Christmas eve. Popular fillings for the Weihnachtsgans are apples, chestnuts, onions and prunes together with herbs like majoram and mugwort. Usually the Weihnachtsgans is served with Kartoffelklößen (potatoe dumplings) and Apfelrotkohl (red cabbage with apples).
How about a traditional German Weihnachtsgans this Christmas?