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Lebkuchen and other holiday cookies at Röckenwagner bakery

On a recent morning, Hans Röckenwagner and his head pastry chef Megan Potthoff demonstrated how to make Lebkuchen -- traditional holiday cookies from Röckenwagner's native Germany -- at Röckenwagner bakery in Mar Vista. Though he grew up with the cookies, this is the first time he's offered them (they're made by hand and are highly labor-intensive) at his bakery. Röckenwagner's are Elisen Lebkuchen, made with a special spice mixture he has made for him in Germany and formed by hand atop imported wafers called oblaten (yes, you eat them too) on a custom-built pedestal. The cookies, the recipe for which dates to medieval times, are laced with marzipan and spices, and are rich, dense and highly complex in flavor. Just the thing to put in your stocking -- which is where Röckenwagner says he first discovered them. These Lebkuchen are available at all three Röckenwagner locations for the holidays, along with stollen and other seasonal goodies. 

Lebkuchen available at Röckenwagner Bakery, 311 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 394-4267; Röckenwagner Bakery, 12835 Washington Blvd., Mar Vista, (310) 578-8171; 3 Square Cafe & Bakery, 1121 Abbott Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 399-6504.  Package of five Lebkuchen, $13.50.

-- Amy Scattergood

 
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