In the Nov-Dec issue of Dollhouse Miniatures, we included Jan Stuart's article on creating lots of little Lebkuchen goodies as well as building a stall to display these delectable treats. Here, Jan shares with us the history of Lebkuchen, then goes a bit more in depth on how to create the colors of Lebkuchen featured in the magazine. Enjoy!
(By Jan Stuart)
A brief history
"Leb-koo'-kin" - What is this stuff? You'll love it. For who doesn't love Christmas cookies and spicy gingerbread and Old World fairy tales come true? Or finding part of one's heritage alive and well loved? Old World Lebkuchen is all of these good things! Small wonder this truly old, old, edible tradition (over six centuries old!) holds a fascination for many—and I hope it will for you, too, once you read of this "German gingerbread's" astounding part in Christmases past and present. You can read the tutorial on pages 60-65 of DHM24 to re-create these beloved holiday treats in miniature along with a Nuremberg Christmas Market Stall in which to authentically display them. It's adapted from a fifteenth-Century original! And, now, for the true story of Lebkuchen!
Made from recipes handed down through generations, Lebkuchen's other traditional ingredients were (and are still) flour, eggs, and spices—like cloves, ginger, cardamon, allspice, anise, coriander, and sometimes mace and cinnamon. Wow! Later came nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts), white sugar, and sometimes even candied orange and lemon peel. These large Christmas goodies ranged in color from light beige (lightly spiced) to dark brown (very spiced), with the common round ones sized a good four and a half inches or more in diameter while rectangles weighed in even bigger (sized just about right, in fact, for Premo's Mini Metal Cutters, which just happen to come in the beloved, traditional shapes you see in the photos)!
NOTE: You can read more about the history of Lebkuchen at German Foods.org and other websites, some of which sell authentic (full-scale and edible) German Lebkuchen by mail order.
Creating the different colors and textures
The color mixes, reading the photo from left to right, are:
2 parts Carmel and 2 parts Burnt Umber
2 parts Raw Sienna and 2 parts Burnt Umber
3 parts Carmel and 1 part Raw Sienna
3 parts Raw Sienna and 1 part Burnt Umber
3 parts Carmel and 1/4 part Raw Sienna
A good way to remember which color is which is that "Raw Sienna" is ginger-ey brown, like "raw" gingerbread dough and "Burnt Umber" is very dark brown, like a "burnt" gingerbread would be! (The blocks of color in the background are some used in the almonds and cherries). Don't forget, you can apply the techniques to mini sugar cookies, too, just by changing colors of modeling compound.
Cutting out shapes; powdering and cutting out pieces; creating a Celtic knot pattern with beads.
Adding ground tea as chopped nuts; using tin foil to make crackle-topped pieces; rolling clay to create blanched almonds.
You can buy a copy of DHM24, with Jan's original Lebkuchen article as well as other great features, here.