Magenbrot is a German gingerbread specialty that you can find at the German Christmas markets and at carnivals and fairs like the famous Oktoberfest.
With this easy recipe, you can make these delicious cookies in no time at home. And to be honest, it is so much better than anything bought at a fair. These cookies are wonderful with a cup of hot chocolate or a mug of gluhwein.
You should definitely check out my German Christmas advent calendar if you're a fan of German Christmas foods. I am pretty sure that you'll find some delicious new treats that everyone in your family will enjoy.
Gingerbread Without Ginger?
Perhaps you're wondering why there's no ginger in this recipe for German gingerbread bites. The reason for this is simple to explain. In past centuries, ginger and pepper were used as a synonym for all spices. And Gingerbread is the English translation of both Lebkuchen and Pfefferkuchen. These German gingerbread specialties are distinct from their American counterparts, so the translation doesn't quite work but is still used. Despite the absence of ginger in many of these German recipes, the English translation often refers to them as gingerbread.
German Fairground Gingerbread
Gingerbread and honey cake have a long tradition in Germany, their history goes back to the middle ages. But the first recipes for Magenbrot did not appear in German cookbooks until the 1940s.
Magenbrot literally translated “Stomach Bread” belongs to German fairgrounds like beer and roasted almonds. Magenbrot contains many spices that support digestion. This stomach-friendly spice mixture probably owes its name to this gingerbread specialty.
How to pronounce "Magenbrot" the correct way in German?
Listen to this audio file to hear how to say "Magenbrot" the right way.
Ingredients & Substitutes
You likely already have all the ingredients you need to make this delicious Magenbrot.
- Flour - unbleached all-purpose flour is your best choice for these cookies.
- Sugar - I use granulated sugar for the dough and powdered sugar for the glaze. You can also substitute honey for the sugar in the dough.
- Baking Powder - Baking powder acts as a leavening agent in this recipe. It should not be replaced by baking soda.
- Eggs -The eggs ensure that your dough will be nice and soft. I usually use large eggs in my baking recipes.
- Cocoa Powder - unsweetened natural cocoa powder gives these cookies a wonderful hint of chocolate.
- Butter - I always prefer real butter. The cookies will taste much better. But you can substitute margarine if you prefer.
- Spices - cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg give these cookies their distinctive flavor. Traditionally, there is no ginger in this recipe but you can add some if you prefer. I usually use these spices as a powder, but you could grind them if you have whole spices.
- Lemon Juice - A tart-sweet glaze created by combining powdered sugar and lemon juice gives the cookies an incredible flavor boost.
See recipe card for quantities.
To start, preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
Divide the dough into six equal parts. Roll each piece of dough into a 1-inch-diameter rope.
Place 3 ropes on each baking sheet and bake for 10–15 minutes.
In the meantime, mix powdered sugar with lemon juice.
Cut the cookie ropes diagonally into 1-inch pieces. Allow them to cool completely on the baking sheets.
Store in an airtight container or cookie tin.
To prepare this treat, you will need these kitchen utensils.
- large mixing bowl and spatula OR
- stand mixer with kneading hook
- measuring cups and spoons
- two baking sheet
- silicone mat or parchment paper
- small bowl
- pastry brush
Magenbrot cookies should be soft and tender. Therefore, you should store them in airtight containers or cookie jars. If you bought them on a fair or Christmas market in Germany, you might got some hard and dry ones, as they are stored on an open display or paper bags. Baking them from scratch will surprise you pleasantly if you had a bad experience.
How to Serve
These fairground treats are eaten as a sweet snack at German fairgrounds. But they are also very popular at the German Christmas markets. Add them to your Christmas cookie plate and enjoy them with a mug of Glühwein (German mulled wine), hot tea, or a decadently cup of rich German cocoa.
Magenbrot - German Gingerbread Bites
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup soft butter
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- ½ tsp. ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Put all the dough ingredients into a large bowl and knead until you have a smooth dough.
- Divide the dough into six equal parts.Roll each piece of dough into a 1-inch-diameter rope.
- Place 3 ropes on each baking sheet and bake for 10–15 minutes.
- For the glaze mix powdered sugar and the lemon juice.
- Brush the glaze on the logs immediately after taking them out of the oven.
- Cut the cookie ropes diagonally into 1-inch pieces and allow them to cool completely on the baking sheets.
- Store in airtight containers or cookie tins.
It’s delicious it reminds of home
Angela Schofield says
That´s wonderful. Where are you from?
hello, should there be ginger in this recipe?
Angela Schofield says
"Ginger" was just a word for "spice" in the old days like "pepper". In other countries the word for gingerbread is pepper cake but there is most of the times no pepper in the recipe. But if you want to alter the recipe you can add ginger.
Which type of cocoa is used in this recipe? Natural or Dutch-processed (processed with alkali)? Thanks.
Angela Schofield says
I used natural cocoa powder for this recipe.
Paula McMahan says
How much ginger do you use?
Angela Schofield says
Hi Paula, Thanks for the question. There is no ginger in Magenbrot, even the name "gingerbread" might indicate the use of ginger in a recipe. In ancient times, the words ginger and pepper were used as synonyms for what we call spice today. This is why you will find that a lot of authentic, old recipes don´t add ginger or pepper to a recipe that might sound like it should have these spices as ingredients. But if you personally like the taste, there is no harm in adding some. But I can assure you that it is delicious as is. I hope that helps. Have a great day, Angela