Children throughout Europe know the story of little Hansel and Gretel who, wandering through the forest, come across a house made of gingerbread, covered with lovely icing. It was the house of the wicked witch who had lured them to her den

But a Lebkuchenhaus is a way of remembering the story but without any of that underlying wickedness.  This year for the Dean’s demonstration kitchen in the Borough Market he demonstrated how to make a simple Gingerbread House for your own Christmas table to bring a little bit of the great German traditions of Christmas into our homes.

In fact, of course, so many of the ways that we celebrate a ‘traditional’ Christmas owe their origins to the German traditions brought to us by Prince Albert and so loved by Queen Victoria.  As the Dean and his assistant demonstrated how to make the Lebkuchenhaus he told the story of Hansel and Gretel and describing some of those great traditions which help us celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The recipe


500g Sugar

4 Eggs

1 tsp Cinnamon

125g Almonds, grated

60g Candied orange and lime peel, finely chopped

500g Flour

1 tsp Ammonium bicarbonate, dissolved in some Schnaps


Whisk sugar and eggs until foamy.

Mix with other ingredients and knead into a smooth dough.

Cut the parts and set to dry over night.

Bake on low heat until solid, but not hard.

Stick parts together and decorate with frosting (1 egg-white, 250g icing sugar, some lemon juice).

(c) Southwark Cathedral