This year I did not prepare Christmas cookies, but know I really wished to prepare something special, something from my town (Basel, Switzerland) where it is popular in bakeries and even grocery stores.
I’ve already prepared Leckerli, or better in Swiss German “Läckerli” or “Läggerli”, several times, but it was long time ago as I prepared them. Once I also used this recipe to build a cute gingerbread house.
This year I’ve revised my old recipe and I’ve decided to propose these cookies into small bites for longer pleasure. I love to take one, let turn soft in the mouth and then melt!
These cookies are dense, quite dry and wonderfully flavored with honey (I used the honey of our bees!), spices, citrus and almonds. They are something like “hard gingerbread” combined with candied fruits; no candied ginger is included in this traditional recipe. You are free to add some if you wish!
Basler Läckerli date back to the 15th century as they were created at the time of the Basel Council (1431 to 1449) to sustain the assembled church dignitaries. The word “Läkerli” comes from “lecker” ant it meas “delicious” in German and “-li” is a diminutive suffix in the Swiss-German language.
Homemade Basler Leckerli - Swiss Gingerbread from Basel
In a heavy pot, bring honey with sugar to boil. Remove from the heat.
Add all the other ingredients except flour and baking powder. Mix well.
Add half of the flour and stir to combine the hand mixer provided with dough hooks. Now add the rest of the flour and the baking powder, work with the hooks until well combined and the dough does not stick to the finger (be careful, it is hot). If necessary, add more flour.
Turn the dough on a well-floured working surface and knead well.
Sprinkle the dough with flour (in this way the dough will not stick on the rolling pin) and roll it out the dough out on parchment foil placed directly in the baking try. It should be about 6 mm thick. As the dough is very hard, it is easier if somebody helps you to hold the tray and the parchment foil.
Let sit for at least one hour or best overnight.
Bake for 15-18 minutes at 220°C in a preheated oven (or 200°C if using a convection oven).
In the meanwhile, prepare the glaze: heat sugar with water until the sugar is melt, let simmer until the syrup turns thick and you see that at the borders of the pot the first crystals begins to form (this takes about five minutes).
Remove from the oven and immediately cut the dough (I used the pizza cutter) rectangular pieces of about 3,5X5 cm (for the standard size) or, as in my case if you prefer into 1,5X1,5cm bites.
Brush the still warm Läckerli with the hot glaze. At this point, the syrup should built crystals and a wonderful white shining cover will glaze the Läckerli.
As soon as the glaze is turning white, separate the Läckerli again, let cool down and dry out completely.
Store in airtight container up to 6 month.
Glaze (Modern variation): this replace the step “7” above
250 g powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons “Kirsch”
In while the cookies are in the oven, combine powdered sugar with water and Kirsch. If necessary, add one more tablespoon Kirsch (or water). Stir until well-combined and very thick.
A tagine is such a wonderful way to prepare and serve a complete meal at once.
The combination of meat, vegetable and carbs makes this possible and super easy!
The special spice mix, which I call “Moroccan Spice Mix”, is a wonderful very versatile balanced combination of flavours; I use this in many different ways, mostly spontaneously according to the ingredients I have on hand at home.
In the recipe below, I added some honey from our own production; this made the plate really really delicious!
2 teaspoon ras el hanout spice mix, if available, optional
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
500 g chicken skinned, cut into big pieces (if you prefer deboned)
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into quarters (wedges)
1/2 lemon with peel, cut vertically in wedges (skin on)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and chopped
6 teaspoons Moroccan Spices Mix (see above)
1 teaspoon paprika
4 Roma tomatoes
1 cup chicken or vegetal broth
1 can chickpeas, about 2 cups cooked chickpeas
½ lemon juice
2 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoon raisins (+ some for decoration)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley for decoration
Prepare in advance the ingredients taking care to prepare the tomatoes. To peel the tomatoes dip them in boiling water for two minutes, place in cold water and remove the skin. Cut into half and with your fingers remove the seed, cut into 1-2 cm pieces.
Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet (provided of lid) and fry chicken for 2 minutes, add onion and lemon wedges and fry for other 3 minutes.
Add garlic, ginger and spices. Stir fry shortly until fragrant.
Add tomatoes and sauté for 1-2 more minutes. Set aside a few pieces tomatoes, one lemon and one onion wedge for decoration.
Add the broth and stir well-
Add chickpeas, lemon juice, honey and raisins.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Cover and let simmer covered for about 30 minutes or better one until the chicken results tender. Stir and add little water from time to time as it should not result dry.
Just before serving top with the reserved lemon and onion wedges, the pieces of tomatoes, a few raisins. Cover for a few seconds.
Work water, starter and honey with the kneading machine until well combined-
Add about 100 g flours and work until combined, and then add the other after about 100 g in the same way and other 100 g again. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Now add the last 100 g with the salt and work until smooth. To see if the dough has been kneaded enough look for the ‘window pane’ effect. To do this cut a piece of dough from the ball, hold it up and try to stretch it out into a thin sheet.
Let sit in a bowl (covered with a dump towel) at room temperature for about 1 hour and then place it in the fridge overnight. If you do not have the time place it in a not to warm place (about 12-18°C) for at least 6 hours.
Remove the dough form the bowl and stretch and fold it for about 5 minutes. Let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Now take out the Dutch oven form the oven, carefully transfer the bread with the baking sheet, cover and immediately bake for 30 minutes at 230°C for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for other 15-20 minutes until the desired color of the crust is reached.
Remove from the oven, place on a grid (without the foil) to cool down completely before cutting.
Pick up 20-30 elderflower heads; best on a sunny day when they are most fragrant.
Half fill a clean bucket with 10 liters cold water
Dissolve 1kg sugar and the citric acid into the water.
Remove partially the stem of the elderflowers heads and add them to the flowers to the water.
Slice lemons and ginger if used thinly and add them to the bucket.
Stir gently and cover with a loose lid or with a clean tea towel.
From now on stir occasionally (3-4 timer per day).
After 2-3 days the drink should begin to produce bubbles witch bring the flowers to the top.
Let ferment it until the speed of fermentation has slowed. You don’t want exploding bottles! At this point the liquid should taste dryer and less sweet.
Strain the liquid and fill it into champagne-style bottles (with the appropriate little wire cage) or (not as pretty but much safer) use plastic bottlers of carbonated soft drinks as Coca Cola. Glass, swing-top lemonade bottles are not really man enough for the job. Don’t fill the bottle, leave 6-7 cm air from the top! I recommend releasing the accumulated gas every day until the production of gas is slower enough.
In about 8 days it should be ready to drink best for several weeks to allow the fermentation to add fizz to the wine.
Let decant the bottle in the fridge before serving. Be very careful opening the bottles.
A long time ago I saw for the first time a picture of puffed pancakes. I can’t remember for how I long I saved the recipe before trying it, but finally today I did it.
The recipe is very simple and the recipe not too heavy. In this version I described how to prepare in the pancake in the oven, but you are free to prepare this in the skillet; in this case you will need a second skillet for the filling.
The filling is a combination of the ingredients from the garden and the honey of our bees, but you can follow the pancake recipe and fill it as you like it: with caramelized pears, peaches or other fruits or simply with fresh berries and whipped cream.
If you have smaller molds you can try to prepare smaller single pancakes. I can imagine that a vol-au-vents filling would fit as well.
Heat a 24 cm (9-inch) glass pie pan in oven to 220°C/425°F until butter is melted and the pan is very hot.
In the meantime combine flour, milk and egg. Stir very well until smooth.
Spread melted butter over bottom of pan and pour batter into hot pie pan.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
During the baking time prepare the filling: In a non-sticky skillet melt the butter, add honey and fry until it begins to caramelize. Add apples and cinnamon and cook until apples are hot, tender but not too soft.
Add more honey if you like.
Transfer the pancake on a serving dish, spoon the apple mixture over it, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.