I-ATE: Pierniki, Lebkuchen und etwas Weihnachtslebkuchen zur Feier der Festzeit

Gingerbread for Christmas time

Christmas is almost here! This is why we cannot miss this opportunity to present a couple of ICH-ATE‘s sweet proposals today. We want to introduce Pierniki von Polen, Lebkuchen von Deutschland, und Gingerbread von Great Britain to you. Do you know them all? Which one is your favourite?

If we start our culinary Christmas adventure in Polen, we will find a tasty treat called Pierniki ToruƄskie that is a traditional gingerbread that has been produced since the 12th century in ToruƄ – the city of MikoƂaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus). In the old Polish cuisine, we can find traditional spices such as ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, frequently mixed with other ingredients like honey, eggs, sugar and so on. The preparation of the old Polish piernik (pierniki in plural) requires a lot of dedication, time and attention. It is a mixture of gingerbread spices, honey, lard, sugar, eggs, and some flour. It needs to be prepared a couple of days before Christmas Eve so it could obtain a particular gingerbread taste. It is a dessert that remains fresh for many days, and it is often eaten with traditional plum preserves called powidƂa. Small pierniki in different shapes are also used as decorations for the Christmas tree. The pictures below show traditional Pierniki ToruƄskie with plum preserves and little decorative ones.


The first mention of Pierniki ToruƄskie comes from 1380 and is attributed to a local baker called Niclos Czana. The sweet quickly gained fame across Poland and abroad. ToruƄ and the German city of Nuremberg, both famous for their special sweets, were determined to hide the secrets of their recipes from each other. Finally, in 1556, they reached an agreement by which each city could bake the specialties of the other.

Die Deutsch version of pierniki wird genannt Lebkuchen. They can be spicy or sweet and have many different shapes with the round one being the most common. Lebkuchen are made with some of the ingredients from the Polish recipe, to which aniseed, coriander, cloves, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or even candied fruit are added. The sweets vary in types, shapes, kinds and proportion of nuts. Lebkuchen is usually soft, but there is also a harder version used to produce Lebkuchenherzen (“Lebkuchen hearts”), which usually has inscriptions made of sugar icing. Lebkuchenherzen are available at many German regional fairs and Christmas markets. The original Lebkuchen from Nuremberg is also known as Elisenlebkuchen. It must contain no less than 25 percent of nuts and less than 10 percent of wheat flour. The pictures below present traditional round Lebkuchen und Lebkuchenherzen.


In Great Britain, there is an interesting variety of gingerbread types, ranging from a soft, moist loaf cake to something close to a ginger biscuit. Gingerbread biscuit commonly takes the form of a gingerbread man. The history of the gingerbread men starts at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, who served the figurines to foreign dignitaries. Today, however, they are generally served during the Christmas period. The picture below shows English gingerbread men and women.


In Belgien und die Niederlande, we can find peperkoek, kruidkoek oder ontbijtkoek eaten with butter and served for breakfast during the Christmas period. In Frankreich, they prepare pain d’Ă©pices which is somewhat similar, though generally slightly drier, and contains honey rather than treacle. The original French pain d’Ă©pices did not contain any ginger.

In the Nordic countries, we can find pepperkaker in Norwegen und pepparkakor in Schweden. Die Danes eat brunkager, in Island we can find some piparkökur, und in Finnland Sie nennen es piparkakut. The Baltic countries also have their own variants such as piparkƫkas in Lettland und piparkoogid in Estland.

Die Russians prepare pryanikiin RumĂ€nien wir werden fressen turtă dulce with some sugar glazing, and in Bulgarien we can find some ĐŒĐ”ĐŽĐ”ĐœĐșĐ° (“made of honey”). In Tschechische Republik they eat perníčky.

How about your country? Do you also prepare gingerbread for Christmas? Is it similar to the one eaten in Polen, Deutschland or maybe Great Britain? We are waiting for your comments on Facebook. Happy Holidays!

Geschrieben von Olga Jeczmyk: Übersetzer-Interpreter, Social Media und Content Manager sowie Praktikant fĂŒr Kommunikation und Terminologie. Referat Terminologiekoordinierung des EuropĂ€ischen Parlaments in Luxemburg.


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