LCHF Nuremberger Elisenlebkuchen

raph @ 2015-12-06 16:25

*Lebküchner* from an illustrated manuscript in the Stadtbibliothek Nürnberg, ca. 1520

Premium old-school *Lebkuchen* are naturally low in carbs
src: en.wikipedia: Lebkuchen

Here I’d like to share the recipe for my low-carb-high-fat (and by extension, gluten and sugar-free) variant of Nuremberger Elisenlebkuchen. You can find variations of Lebkuchen all over Germany (and beyond), but the one I present here is based on an original, old-school recipe straight from the source: Nuremberg.

Traditionally, the best Lebkuchen are those with the highest possible nuts-to-flour ratio. This is unlike the cheaper ones you can find in supermarkets and Christmas markets all over the world, which contain more flour and sugar than nuts. The original recipes favour nuts over flour and starch; a perfectly reasonable definition of “premium” to me, and taken further, gives you the ideal LCHF treat.

Src:; Translated to English by me

“Als besonderes Qualitätsmerkmal gilt ein hoher Anteil von Mandel- und Nusskernen und eine geringe Zugabe von Mehl oder sogar der völlige Verzicht darauf. […] Oblatenlebkuchen der höchsten Qualität gemäß Deutschem Lebensmittelbuch heißen „Elisenlebkuchen“ und nehmen bei praktisch allen Nürnberger Anbietern einen prominenten Platz im Sortiment ein; sie müssen eine besonders hochwertige Zusammensetzung mit mindestens 25% Mandeln, Haselnüssen oder Walnüssen aufweisen, dürfen keine anderen Ölsamen und maximal 10% Mehl oder 7,5% Stärke enthalten.”

“A special quality characteristic is a high content of almond and nut kernels and minimal addition - or even avoidance of - flour. […] According to the German Food Guide, ‘Oblatenlebkuchen’ of the highest quality are called ‘Elisenlebkuchen’ and take a prominent position within the range of products offered by Nuremberg’s producers; they must have a particularly high-quality composition of at least 25% almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts, may not contain other oilseeds and at most 10% flour or 7.5% starch.”

Knowing this, I cranked up the nut contents to nearly 100% - which according to the German Food Guide technically qualifies as the most premium Lebkuchen one can possibly make, all the while being low in carbs and high in good fats and fibre.

There’s only two ingredients in the original Elisen-Lebkuchen which are bad carb-offenders:

Picture of *oblaten* wafers.

Oblaten are basically cardboard. Would you eat cardboard?


This yields more or less 1 large baking tray, or ~20 medium Lebkuchen.


In summary, the steps are easy. It’s the spices and sweetening where I recommend you take some time and taste your way through.

Short version

Long version

The easy bit

Whisk together: nuts, eggs and psyllium husks. Add a dash of baking powder.

A dash of Christmas

These are Christmas treats, so add the usual suspects: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, anise, allspice - whatever floats your boat. I don’t mind using off-the-shelf “Christmas Spice” mixes, because I’m lazy. You can find dedicated “Lebkuchen” spice mixes, too - but those often contain sugar and wheat, so make sure you understand what you are buying.

Add a large spoonful of cocoa powder to the mix. Or more if you like. Don’t worry if it doesn’t darken very much. Be careful to not add too much, it can make the dough bitter and you might find yourself adding more sweetener at the end to balance it out.

The Orangeat problem

Lebkuchen traditionally contain Orangeat and Zitronat, which translates to candied orange and lemon peel. This is what happens when people soak bitter food in sugar because - apparently - everything has to taste sweet in order to taste good (or so the logic seems to go).

“Candied” == sugar.

The strategy you choose to sweeten your Lebkuchen depends on how sweet you like your treats to be (if at all), and then what kind of sugar alternatives you prefer. You can start off entirely un-sweet by using some actual (not candied) orange and lemon peel, then sweeten the whole thing afterwards to taste. But be careful, you can come out on the very bitter end, which isn’t everybody’s thing.

You can’t really go wrong with a splash or two of pure lemon juice to get started.

What I then tend to do is add one or two big spoonfuls of thick-cut diabetic orange marmalade. This adds the slightly bitter orange taste and also a bit of sweet, which I can subtract from the Xylitol I would otherwise have added later. The brands I can find in my area are sweetened with sugar alcohols (Sorbitol or Maltritol), which isn’t as good as Xylitol, but still beats aspartame by a mile.

Picture of *oblaten* wafers.

Diabetic marmalades are usually sweetened with sugar alcohols.
src: Stute

I strongly recommend you take your time and gradually add very little sweet and give it a taste. Stop when it tastes sweet enough - then add a final tiny dash of sweet. The sweet taste tends to go away a bit during the baking process.

However: There is no shame in err’ing on the less-sweet side. I find it more than sufficient to have the Lebkuchen only subtly sweet, leaving room for the other spices and nuts to come through.

Drying, not baking

Put baking paper (or the fancy silicon stuff) onto a baking tray. Using a large spoon, distribute blobs of the dough onto the tray. Leave a bit of space between them, but don’t worry about them melting or otherwise growing much - there’s not much butter or cream in the recipe, so they should pretty much stay put.

We’re not going to bake these like you would bake a cake. Just heat them up to dry a little bit, then let ‘em cool. I shouldn’t have to point this out, but… the longer you dry them, the drier they will be. I prefer them rather moist.

Stick it into the (pre-heated) oven at 120 degrees Celsius for about 12-15 minutes. Take out the tray and let them cool.

Close up of one Lebkuchen I made this way.

Picture of several Lebkuchen I recently made.


Mixing it up

Traditional Lebkuchen contain almonds, hazelnuts and/or walnuts. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use other kinds of nuts! I like to use macadamia and brazil nuts. Dessicated coconut, even. Go crazy.

Obviously, you can experiment with the spices. I recommend trying less sweetener and more cinnamon and cocoa.

If you so desire you can glaze them with chocolate. I usually just melt high-cocoa sugar-free chocolate with some coconut oil and spread that on top. This part is optional and up to you.

Just be careful adding any liquids such as cream or butter/oils which can turn liquid in the oven. Your Lebkuchen might melt when heated. Best leave these out.