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Recipe: mini espresso and lebkuchen cake

Christmas dessert guaranteed to be yummy

Good news for all worn-out rolling pins and overworked biscuit cutters: you can treat yourself to a break because this isn’t a recipe for typical Christmas biscuits, but instead for an artistic cream cake – in an unusual form. Although this mini cake is only half as wide, it is twice as high as normal. 


There are many reasons why you may not remember the dessert from last year’s Christmas meal. First, there was none. Second, it wasn’t the most delicious dessert you ever had. Or third, since you were allergic to one of the ingredients, you grudgingly gave it to your neighbour at the table. We think that any of these scenarios would be very annoying, and would therefore like to entice you to bake our mini espresso and lebkuchen cake. We hope that you will remember this dessert as one of your favourites.

Cake batter:

150 g dark chocolate

6 eggs

330 g sugar

2 portions of Café Royal (2 × 40 ml)

150 g butter

450 g flour

1 pack baking powder

1 pinch of salt

4 ½ tsp lebkuchen spice mix

60 ml milk


Vanilla buttercream:

300 g butter (room temperature)

325 g cream cheese

400 g icing sugar

4 to 5 drops of vanilla extract


Candied rosemary with cranberries:

100 ml water

300 g sugar

10 fresh sprigs of rosemary

1 handful of fresh cranberries

Preparation time:

3 to 5 hours, depending on whether or not the three cake bases are baked using one cake tin (one after the other) or three tins (at the same time)


Baking time:

35 minutes at 200°C/180°C in a fan oven



8 pieces


Kitchen equipment:

small saucepan, large mixing bowl, hand mixer or stand mixer (wire whisk attachment), sieve, kitchen scales, cake tin (silicone or springform pan) with a 15 cm diameter, cake server or angled pallet knife, cake or oven rack, spatula



Preparation: candied rosemary with cranberries

1) Mix the water with half of the sugar (150 grams). In a small saucepan, bring this mixture to a boil until a syrup forms.

2) Immerse each individual rosemary sprig in the syrup and then place it on a rack to dry.

3) Then dunk the cranberries into the syrup and let these also dry on the rack.

4) The aromatic sprigs and cranberries need to be left on the rack for a while so that they can dry completely – overnight is ideal, but at least for a few hours.

5) Roll the dried rosemary sprigs and cranberries in the rest of the sugar.

Preparation: espresso and lebkuchen batter

1) Preheat the oven to 200°C or 180°C for fan ovens.

2) First, let the chocolate melt in a water bath and then allow it to cool down a bit.

3) Make two shots of espresso, stir into the chocolate, and let the aromatic mixture cool a little again.

4) Beat the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl until the mixture is quite foamy and has almost doubled in volume.

5) Now cut the butter into thin slices and add to the sugar and egg mixture while stirring continuously.

6) After the butter is completely stirred in, add the flour and baking powder. It works best to pass the flour through a sieve so that the mixture retains its light and creamy consistency. Fold in the cooled chocolate-espresso mixture at this point as well.

7) Next come the salt and lebkuchen spice mix. Simply add to the mixture and stir for a few minutes.



8) Finally, add the milk and fold in carefully.

9) The finished batter should weigh about one and a half kilograms. Divide into three equal parts (500 grams per cake tin). If you have three tins available, bake all three cake bases at the same time. If you only have one tin, bake the cake bases one after the next – that takes a bit longer, but doesn’t hurt the cake.

10) Pour the batter into the tin and then bake for 35 minutes.

11) Use a skewer to test if the cake is done in the middle. If there is any wet batter on the skewer, the cake needs to cook a bit longer. If the skewer is clean, let the tin cool briefly and then turn out the cake onto a cooling rack.

12) Bake the remaining two cake bases in the same manner.

13) Check to make sure that all three cake bases are completely cooled. Then use a sharp knife to cut off the top layer (cover) so that each base is three centimetres high.

Preparation: vanilla buttercream

1) Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter until it is nice and creamy.

2) Add two tablespoons of icing sugar – making sure to pass it through a sieve so that no lumps form.

3) Then add the cream cheese to the cream along with 4 to 5 drops of vanilla extract to taste.

4) Gradually add the remaining icing sugar, passing it through a sieve into the bowl.

5) If the cream is too thin, place it in the refrigerator for ten minutes and then beat for two more minutes before icing the cake. It should then have a light and smooth consistency.



Layering the cake

1) Spread some of the vanilla buttercream on a cake plate or a flat plate and then place the first cake base on top so that it stays firmly in place.

2) Spread about a quarter of the cream on top of the base.

3) Then place the second base on the cream and press down slightly. If the cake bases are moving back and forth too much, use cake skewers or normal wooden skewers to secure them.

4) Then spread about a quarter of the cream on top of the second base.

5) Place the third base with the underside facing upwards on top of the cream so that the top of the cake has a smooth surface.

6) Spread another quarter of the vanilla buttercream on the top layer to create a wave-like pattern. Then spread the rest of the cream on the sides of the cake – it looks best if the cake bases are still visible.

7) Decorate the top cream layer with the candied rosemary sprigs and cranberries – a wreath along the outer edge of the cake is a nice option.

8) You should place the cake in the refrigerator so that the cream sets. This way, you will have clean edges when you cut the cake.

9) Serve every piece of cake on a plate – because of its impressive height, it is easier to eat when it is laid on its side. We hope you enjoy the cake. Happy holidays!



By the way, the worst thing that can happen if you bake this cake is that your guests will request that from now on you serve it at every party. The espresso won’t disappoint – we’ll provide enough Café Royal, we promise.

Lord James