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German gingerbread (lebkuchen) cake with red wine glaze


Lebkuchengewürz is a spice mix used in holiday baking in Germany. It is similar to the spices American bakers put ingingerbread. However, the German version contains a larger variety of spices such as cardamom, star anise and sometimes, dried lemon and orange peel.

A good recipe for lebkuchengewürz can be found here. This spice mix is great to have on hand for holiday baking in general and also a wonderful addition to your favorite mulled wine recipe.

You can replace the spices in this cake with the traditional cinnamon (2 teaspoons), nutmeg (1 teaspoon) clove (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) mix. If you do, I suggest adding a few tablespoons of dark molasses to the batter.

This dense, spicy cake contains red wine both in the cake and in the topping, the latter giving the glaze a pretty color. It’s like having mulled wine is a cake form. The cake is also studded through with bittersweet chocolate pieces which add to its heft.

When serving the cake, I suggest cutting it into smaller than usual portions as it packs quite a flavor punch. As pictured, I used a small Christmas tree shaped cutter to create the portions, also making a more festive presentation.


For the cake:

  • 1+ 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ?1+3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 + 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • teaspoons lebkuchen spice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • large eggs
  • + 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup red wine (any type)

For the glaze:

  • 1+2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yield: 16 pieces


  • In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Chop or grate the bittersweet chocolate into very small pieces.
  • Place the unsalted butter, firmly packed sugar, spices, freshly grated lemon and orange zest in a mixer and beat on medium high speed until creamy (about 3 minutes).
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • Beat in the pure vanilla extract.
  • Add the eggs one after the other, making sure each is incorporated fully into the batter before adding the next.
  • Once again, Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix again to make sure everything is evenly combined.
  • Turn the mixer speed down to low and add half the sifted dry ingredients. Add the wine and then the rest of the dry ingredients.
  • Add the chopped/grated chocolate to the batter and mix thoroughly.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 12 pan and line with baking paper.
  • Spread the batter out evenly into the pan. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and transfer the cake to a cooling rack set up over a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Let’s cool completely.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and red wine until it forms a smooth glaze. Pour the glaze onto the cake and use a rubber spatula to even it out over the top.
  • When the glaze has dried, cut the cake into small pieces, place on a decorative platter and serve.


By Lora Wiley-Lennartz

German Food Expert

***Grabbed from: