The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Long time fermented gingerbread

albacore's picture
albacore

Long time fermented gingerbread

Has anyone ever made German fermented gingerbread cookies (Lebkuchen)?

If I start now, they could be ready for Easter!! But I don't want to try if there is a high likelihood of ending up with a puddle of inedible goop!

 

Lance

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I love that particular website-everything fermented!

Since the basic fermentation was weighed, why couldn't you make a smaller test batch? It may be less of a fermentation time.

They don't really say how to tell if the basic dough is properly fermented so it would be interesting to do 3 small batches and let them ferment for 1 month, 2 months and 3 months. Observe and learn.

Post your results. Looks very interesting.

albacore's picture
albacore

Yes, I had a good browse at the rest of the site and there is some good stuff there which I must also try. I would hope that fermentation of one sort or another is the life blood of every TFLer!

For Christmas we bought my daughter's partner an interesting book about fermentation. He has been instructed to tell me about any must-do items!

Lance

albacore's picture
albacore

Yes, I'll probably give it a try at 1/4 quantities - still a good amount and minimised losses if it goes pear shaped.

DesigningWoman's picture
DesigningWoman

a labor of love! Talk about long-term commitments ☺

But I bet they will taste out of this world. 

Two questions:

  • What's a wafer?
  • What's pear shaped?

Have fun! 

Carole 

albacore's picture
albacore

Not too sure about the wafer, Carole. Something that got eaten in a prior German-English translation, I suspect.

Pear shaped - a UK English term for something that's not gone quite as planned. Not sure of the etymology of the phrase or it's Googleability. Hopefully it's not there, as the internet (despite its good points) can severely restrict our sense of wonderment, as one of the Gallagher brothers once said.

Lance

DesigningWoman's picture
DesigningWoman

"Wafer" = "waffle"? Doesn't make sense in the context. 70 cm in diameter. .. We may need to get Mini on this one 😊

Thank you for "pear-shaped". I do wonder why. 

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

Is truly a wafer, a thin circle of very simple baked dough, rather like a communion wafer. Traditional elisenlebkuchen dough is placed on the wafer before going into the oven. You can get them online.

If I may be permitted, I did a podcast episode a month or so ago on traditional Nürnberger lebkuchen.

I've never tried to make lebkuchen myself, but in my interviews I did not come across the method described in the original link.

Jeremy

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

Since I saw this post I've been scouring the Internet(s) looking for a fermented lebkuchen recipe, and haven't really seen one.  Someone please help, because I'm dying to try this.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I'm looking at that thinking it's probably just aging as Jeffrey Hamelman puts it, because it doesn't seem there would be enough water activity in the dough for microbial activity. See the Lebkuchen on page 361 of Bread. That recipe is very similar to Schottler's (even if no ginger), although it is made into loaves instead of cookies.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with aged.  There is just too much sugar and limited moisture to be fermented.  The dough is very thick and just barely goes together into a "log."  Then it is aged for at least three weeks or better a month in a cool pantry before being re kneaded, and rolled out.  It is much more cooperative then and should be a delight to work. I don't know anyone here who doesn't age their dough.  It seems to be an unwritten part of the recipe.

Dried ruits and nuts can be added anytime or even used as a filling between thinner cookies or decorating on top. They can be cut before or after baking (while hot) and a glaze can be brushed on before or after for shiny cookies.  Do not overbake or risk dried hard cookies. Some experimenting required to get the flavour and "look" you're after so lots of room for creativity.  

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

Thanks, Debra.  I'm wondering what transformation to the dough is taking place, if you have a sense.  He doesn't explain it.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Slow enzymatic reactions and changes in chemical composition. I know that honey in particular changes over time. When Jeffrey was working on the second edition though, all that I could find was a very poorly translated English version of a honey study done in a Spanish-speaking country.

And there are probably some interactions between the dough components that improve flavor and keeping quality. Not sure if anyone has analyzed the aging of lebkuchen dough. It's not an area of medical concern or public safety, and unlikely to profit industry. Those are the most likely reasons research gets funded. But you never know --- try searching on Google Scholar and see if anything pops :-) 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I happened to have one kilo honey lebkuchen dough mixed up since Oct 1st (confession, before that) and keep putting off the baking.  The dough seems just fine. I keep it in the fridge now wrapped up air tight.  Drying out is the biggest danger.

Wafers are sold in little boxes in the baking section here, they are called "Backoblaten" and  vary in cookie sizes.  They are used to prevent sticking to the baking sheet basically made from a thin white wheat slurry.  A good trick is to take a box of fifty wafers and with a sharp thin knife divide the thin wafers in half making 100 full sized wafers. Place the smooth side down and place dough shapes on top.  The wafers are similar to communion wafers, dry and stick to a wet tongue but if you don't have any, don't sweat it, use baking parchment paper.

DesigningWoman's picture
DesigningWoman

Thanks to you and Jeremy , we now know that these morsels are baked on a wafer!

Somebody gave me some plate-sized oblaten a few months back, and I've never known what to do with them. 

Thanks, Mini. 

Carole 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

can be filled with a cream frosting or other great stuff (chocolate or nut creams) and stacked. Cut into wedges with a sharp knife.  Can also be used under a torte or very big cookies or brownies.

DesigningWoman's picture
DesigningWoman

How bad can they be a couple months out? Should they be binned?

So I can smear them, stack them and stuff myself 😄?

Thanks, Mini! 

Carole 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

if they have been kept cool and dry. Break off a bit to check for any aftertastes. Pretty bland stuff.  Nutella? 

DesigningWoman's picture
DesigningWoman

like chocolate and orange marmelade, not a big fan of commercial Nutella. What would happen if I just slapped my brownie dough between layers and baked it? Or are the wafers going to get all weird?

These are butter-almond-hazelnut.

Thoughts? 

albacore's picture
albacore

I've found some more info Here with some links. It will need putting through Google translate for those like me who are German language challenged.

Lance

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

http://www.chefkoch.de/forum/2,36,356511/Omas-Lebkuchenteig-jetzt-ansetzen-im-Dezember-backen-Teil-3-mit-verbesserter-ausfuehrlicher-Anleitung.html 

It is also in German but has more info than the last link. Sour cherry juice is used to dissolve the potash.  Frankly I never had a problem with just sifting it into the flour.  Note flour to sugar ratios is basically one to one with the addition of eggs for moisture.  The rest is flavourings.  Type of flour is not mentioned but around here it is rye flour 50% to 100%.  Cocoa looks also like an option trying to darken the dough when wheat only is used.  There is further discussion about glazing, one good one is to brush with condensed milk before baking.  Are you frosting as well?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:). I know I've put up a few.

albacore's picture
albacore

Mini, the original recipe I linked to uses ammonium carbonate and potassium carbonate. I don't mind buying a sachet of ammonium carbonate, but I don't want to buy pottasche as well. Can I substitute sodium carbonate (washing soda!) or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)?

Lance

albacore's picture
albacore

As per the original recipe, but scaled down:

  • 400g mockmilled spelt, lightly sifted
  • 200g honey
  • 200g molasses

All warmed to 37C and mixed with the dough hook in the Kenwood.

Now in store in the shed until April!

 

Lance

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hard to tell.  

I finally unsealed my dough and just tried to knead it.  Got in some folding and pounding to make a large thick marbelized log. Cut off sections and then cut into quarter sections to roll into nut sized balls.  Placed them close together on one baking sheet and brushed them with 3% milk.

Tip: Stick sprinkles onto the sticky surface or let them dry a little bit before baking. Baked them at 180°C for about 12 min. Toothpick comes out clean and lightly browned.  They actually baked lighter brown than the dough.

Used a powdered sugar glaze liquified with sour orange juice or lemon.  Also melted a little cooking dark chocolate to dribble here and there.

While still hot cut between shapes.  These are still lightly stuck to the parchment which makes them easier to brush with glaze and decorate.  After the chocolate sets, pull off and tin. They are very tasty nice and soft.  These were made using baking soda.  They puffed up nicely.

 

albacore's picture
albacore

Did you add some spices?

I also thought my dough wasn't as thick as I expected. I guess it depends on the honey and molasses thickness.

I suppose I can add som more flour when I get to the next stage.

Lance

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

mixed into it from the beginning, also zests, finely chopped zitron and aranzini and some nut flour.  All combined with the warm honey and eggs.  The dough is stiff, it would kill any mixer.  Seriously.  Oil whatever you wrap the dough in.  The dough stiffens more with time and hubby thought I was pounding schnitzel when I was folding the dough.  Shook the whole workbench, you know that deep dark sound that only muscle can make on something like...well... stiff cookie dough.  Did get a light coat of dough in my palms.  The dough was about 19°C when folding.  I could have rolled it out but I was tired and wanted to get this dough baked.  I'm going to do this again next year with more dough.   I tinned some up for the "kids."   It's snowing again!  

DesigningWoman's picture
DesigningWoman

Those look so nice! And I'll bet the taste and texture are out of this world.  Makes me crave a plateful with a pot of tea!

Lovely bake!

Carole .  

Matthew216's picture
Matthew216

This sounds like exactly the kind of thing i'd want to try. One question, I've had a bottle of this stuff called Full-flavored Molasses on hand that I've been looking to use. Would this make a suitable sub for the treacle?

David R's picture
David R

If you are familiar with what treacle should be like, then just give this molasses a look and a feel, to see if it's probably close enough. If it's much too different in your estimation, then use it elsewhere.

 

I'm not directly familiar with treacle so I can't help much.

albacore's picture
albacore

I used molasses because I had a jar in the cupboard; I suspect it will be similar in flavour to treacle. I haven't made the gingerbread yet, because it's still festering (sorry, maturing!) in the shed.

But the molasses tasted fine and not too strong. However there is another type of molasses, called black strap and that is very burnt and acrid - a little goes a long way, as in, if you use too much in any recipe (bread or otherwise) it will ruin it! Having bought a jar once, I would never buy another.

So taste your molasses; if it's smooth and sweet it should be fine.

Lance

David R's picture
David R

Sorry I missed the fact that tasting is the most important factor.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

that recipes using molasses tend to be all wheat recipes.  I use rye flour and it tends to have similar undertones without adding any molasses.  

Matthew216's picture
Matthew216

Well, ever since I saw this post i’ve wanted to try this out, and now I have. I put a cup of Treacle, a cup of honey, and 3 and 1/2 cups organic AP flour together. Mixed them up, and have them sealed in a container out in the garage. I really hope I haven’t screwed up.  I am going to take them out around December 20th, which is a good enough date for an experiment like this. 

My dad’s grandpa used to make his own wine. Sadly he also made his own sauerkraut, and left them to ferment in the same room. Dad says this is why he can’t eat Sauerkraut.

albacore's picture
albacore

A good call! This year I have used all honey/no treacle and added the spices in at the beginning. It currently sleeps in the shed. I'll wake it up at Christmas time, too.

If you have any "Lagerteig" left over, it can cross the border into France and be used to make some authentic "Pain d'Epice" which also benefits from using a long maturation dough.

Lance

Matthew216's picture
Matthew216

You don’t think my ratios are off? That’s a cup of treacle, a cup of honey to 3 and 1/2 cups flour.

albacore's picture
albacore

I would always recommend a digital scale, but for now it looks like you have approx 420g flour and 680g syrups.

I think the normal ratio is 1:1 by weight, so yours might be a little runny and you need two more cups flour. I don't see why you couldn't add it now...

Lance

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Usually at the time of mixing the dough will be the softest, then in about an hour it stiffens up as the flour absorbs any available liquid.  There are enough tips to not stop or take pause during mixing or the dough will become too stiff to keep mixing.  That should give an idea of how stiff this dough, yet all the flour should incorporate. Hire some muscle if you knead too.  Lol!   (puns intended)

If your dough is soft hours after mixing, I'm willing to bet there is too little flour or grated nuts in the mix.  Or you got somebody's spice cake recipe.  :)  Did you put the spices in the dough?  I highly recommend doing so.

Matthew216's picture
Matthew216

Ok judging by research among the always accurate and never wrong library that is the internet, I think I’ve got the converted amounts right.

1 kg of black treacle  = 2.97 cups

1 kg of organic honey  = 2.94 cups

2 kg of AP flour = 16 cups.

so since I’ve basically cut it down by thirds, 16 divided by 3 = 5.33.

yep, looks like at least two more cups of flour.

Matthew216's picture
Matthew216

Ok I tried the new ratios I found, and frankly, I think I’m gonna need some help. Should it look this dry?

albacore's picture
albacore

Short answer - no. It might be down to the inaccuracies of using cups. There's a picture of my freshly mixed dough previously in this thread; it should look like that, maybe a little drier.

I'd get your dough nice and warm and mix in more honey/treacle just until it all comes together.

Lance

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

into a ball or log so I'm not thinking about fried hamburger meat?   In fact hamburger meat would be on the soft side when comparing.  Pack/roll  together using your whole arm clear up to the shoulders.  Elbows hate gingerbread dough.  :)  I think pressing the air out is better for the dough.  

Edit:   Are there any eggs in the dough?

I just mixed up another batch of lebkuchen dough remembering to only mix with one hand (or I may have to get a second person to scrape the sticky dough off my hands!)  I did use the juice of one small orange (or lemon) and the pulp over low heat to help melt the 250g honey which had crystallized.  it was warm yet cool enough to slowly melt three tablespoons of butter and slowly combine while beating 6 cold eggs. That's the wet ingredients.

 I started out with 100% fine whole rye flour (the dough weighed 2.800kg when bagged to rest.)

The dry ingredients included: 1kg rye flour, 750g light brown sugar, 200g grated or finely chopped hazel nuts, 100g candied orange peel,  100g candied citron peel ( I put the candied peels in the chopping blender with equal weights of the recipe flour to cut into fine crumbs) lemon zest, sifted in one Tablespoon Baking soda, one teaspoon heavy table salt, (hand stirring this mixture is such a pleasure for the nose!) then spices... the more fun part!  I used a good tablespoon or more of 5-spice Asia mix (which has 7 powered spices: coriander, cinn., fennel, star anis, cloves, bay leaf, pepper) along with a tbs.or more cinnamon, some powdered lemon grass, ginger and allspice.  I could have stood there mixing forever enjoying all the aromas.  Make sure you won't be disturbed or interrupted in the next half hour.  Get a 2.5 ltr. or larger zipper bag and dribble about half a tsp of oil inside. Rub together to coat and roll over the top edge to make the bag stand up with a collar. Set nearby for the mixed dough.

When the dry ingredients are thoroughly blended, a large well is made in the middle (here is when you thank yourself for using the largest bowl in the kitchen) and into the middle goes the honey egg mixture. With a sturdy silicone spatula start mixing flour into the egg goop.  When dough gets too stiff, remove and start using one hand to push the dough into the remaining flour while rotating the bowl with the free hand.  Scrape down your hand every so often with the spatula.  Keep the one hand dry and clean.   When flour is completely worked in and sides have been scraped down plop very sticky and stiff dough into pre-oiled plastic bag or oiled lidded container. Scrape down hand adding to dough and then wash up hand with brush and water.  Seal bag and set into a cool pantry.  Let it rest for a month or two with air pressed out.