Experience Swiss-Style Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)

Photos courtesy Swiss Tourism

Swiss cuisine combines influences from France, Northern Italy, Germany and Austria. And specialities vary greatly from region to region closely aligned with the language borders. Many local specialities have become firm favorites throughout Switzerland.

St. Galler & Appenzeller Biber are two types of gingerbread with filling. One is from St. Gallen, the other from Appenzell. One is loaded with a hazelnut, the other with a white almond filling. But both are called “Biber” (beaver) or “Biberli” (little beaver) and have two layers of soft honey dough and one layer of yummy stuffing, so they might be totally different from the gingerbread you’ve had so far. No matter which one you try, they can be highly addictive.

Preparation time: approx. 50 minutes. Cooling time: approx. 13 hours. Baking time per baking sheet: approx. 8 minutes. Yield: 50 Biberli cookies

Mix in a bowl:
1 1/2 c. flour
1 teaspoon spice mix for Lebkuchen
zest of 1/2 lime

1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon water

Add sugar to flour with:
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon baker’s salt (baker’s salt is ammonium bicarbonate and is available at pharmacies)

Knead into a soft, smooth dough and let rest for 12 hours in the refrigerator

Finely chop in a bowl:
2/3 cup peeled almonds
2–3 blades of Lemon grass (only the inside), cut in small pieces
1/4 cup white chocolate, broken up

Add and knead into a dense ball:
50 g Acacia honey
½ tablespoon lime juice

Roll the dough with a little flour into a square shape (about
8 x 8″). Halve the squares lengthwise. Moisten edges with water. Halve the marzipan. Form 2 rolls (each about 12″ long, by 3/4″ diameter). Place 1 roll on the long side of the dough, form into a roll, cover and store in a cool place for 1 hour. Form a second roll. Cut the rolls diagonally into 1″ wide trapeze-shaped pieces. Place the Biberli on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Glaze with heavy cream.

Approx. 8 minutes in the center of the pre-heated oven, pre-heated to 400 degrees. Remove from oven and pull the parchment paper with the Biberli onto a wire cooling rack. Glaze once more with cream, let cool completely.

Biberli can be stored for approx. 1 week in a tin with a close
fitting lid.

Alternate hazelnut-cinnamon filling:
2/3 cup hazelnuts, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 cup milk chocolate, broken into pieces; finely chop with a cutter. Add slightly less than 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk and 1 tablespoon of water; knead until it forms a compact mass.

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