These cakes, inspired by traditional Bavarian Christmas cakes, “Elisenkuchen” (named after St. Elisabeth, the Catholic patron saint of bakers) are grain/gluten-free, dairy-free and yeast-free. I adapted this recipe from this gingerbread recipe on the Plated Cravings blog.
In addition to all their “free-froms,” these soft, aromatic cakes contain lots of nutritious ingredients, such as omega-3-rich walnuts; hazelnuts and almonds packed with antioxidants; citrus peel with its multiple health benefits; and polyphenol-rich chocolate.
Traditionally, German Elisenkuchen contain candied orange & lemon peel, but I personally am not too partial to this (in fact, as a child I used to pick them out of my grandmother’s gingerbread…). Feel free to add them if want, though; they’ll probably make the cakes even juicier. (But also increase their sugar content considerably.)
One last tip: don’t over-bake these or they will taste dry and a little bitter. The best way to keep them moist is not to flatten them too much before baking and to take them out of the oven when they barely start to turn a light golden color; once they start to brown they’ve been in too long.
Given their high fat content, Elisenkuchen are quite filling, but since they are so satisfying, just one cake – enjoyed in the afternoon with a cozy cup of tea – will go a long way.
Elisenlebkuchen (German gingerbread)
- 1 cup almonds raw
- 1 cup hazelnuts raw or roasted
- 1 cup walnuts raw
- 5 eggs
- ¾ cup dark borwn sugar or "keto" sugar (a non-glycemic sweetener like allulose or monk fruit extract; if using allulose, increase to 1 cup as it's less-sweet than sugar)
- 2 tbsp German gingerbread mix or pumpkin pie spice mix click here for a recipe for homemade German gingerbread mix
- ½ tsp lemon zest (from an untreated lemon) finely grated
- ½ tsp orange zest (from an untreated orange) finely grated
- ¼ tsp natural almond extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 oz chocolate chips dark or semi-sweet
- 1 tbsp soft butter to grease the baking parchment
- Place the almonds in a food processor and grind for 20 seconds. Add the hazelnuts and grind for another 20 seconds. Finally, add the walnuts and grind for another 20 seconds, or until you have a relatively fine powder. Set aside.
- Place eggs and sweetener (whichever using) in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk until frothy and roughly doubled in volume (about 5 minutes).
- Add spices, citrus zest, almond extract, ground nuts, and baking powder. Whisk until combined, then cover the bowl with aluminum foil or a well-fitting lid and let the batter rest in the fridge overnight (or for at least 10 hours). It will set and have a mousse-like texture.
- When you're ready to bake the cakes, preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet (or 2 small sheets) with a silicone baking mat (something like this) or parchment paper. Lightly grease parchment or silicon mat with soft butter or a flavorless oil (like avocado oil).
- Using a dessert spoon (and a water-moistened index finger to push the dough off the spoon), form heaping 1½-inch mounds of dough on the baking sheet, leaving about ½ inch distance between each to allow the cakes to spread. Bake at the center of the oven for 20-22 minutes until light brown around the edges and golden on top.
- Remove baking sheet from the oven and leave to cool before lifting the cakes off with a spatula and setting them on a wire rack to cool completely and decorate.
- To temper the chocolate glaze (so it stays hard & shiny once it has set), place ⅔ of the chocolate chips in a microwave proof bowl and heat on 50% power for one minute. Stir and heat for another minute on 50%. Stir again; if the chips haven’t melted, heat for another 30 seconds at 50% power. Now add the remaining chips to the warm chocolate and stir until they have melted.
- With a pastry brush, cover the cakes with a thin layer of chocolate and cool on a wire rack. If desired, decorate with almond slivers or chopped nuts.
- These cakes keep for about two weeks in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. They are meant to be soft and moist.