Basler Läckerli

Läckerli are essentially lebkuchen brownies and, therefore, very delicious. They originated in the late Middle Ages as monastic honey cakes were improved with new spices from the Orient. These Lebkuchen, in particular, took South Germany by storm, and from the 17th century, we have numerous recipes from across the region. Läckerli appear in Basel and Bern around this time, and the recipe has remained fundamentally unchanged, though with fewer spices and more sugar than today. This would have been a desert enjoyed primarily by the upper classes, and the chefs that made them were important enough to warrant their own guilds.

Today Läckerli remains synonymous with the city of Basel, one of the last cities to continue the tradition unabated. The recipe below is a standard variant of the modern Läckerli.

Basler Läckerli

A translation of Läckerli is somewhat difficult, as it is something of a cross between a honey cake, lebkuchen and brownie. The result is a delicious spiced honey cake that goes well on its own or as dessert. This recipe is very traditional and has its roots in the cities of 17th century Switzerland and Southern Gemrany.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Basel, Swiss
Keyword: Brownie, Cake, Honey, Lebkuchen, Spice
Servings: 20 Pieces



  • 60 g Almonds
  • 50 g Candied Orangepeel
  • 130 g Honey
  • 50 g Sugar
  • 1 tsp Orange Zest
  • tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • tsp Ground Clove
  • 30 ml Cherry Brandy
  • 150 g All Purpose Flour
  • ½ tsp Baking Powder


  • 20 ml Water
  • 30 g Powdered Sugar
  • 10 g Powdered Sugar for Coating


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C without ventilation.

Läckerli Dough

  • Once we get started, the cooking process goes quicky so get all of the ingredients together first in three bowls.
  • With a food processor, chop the almonds and candied orange peel into fine chunks.
  • In the first bowl, mix the almonds, and orange peel together with the sugar, orange zest, and spices.
  • In the second bowl, measure out the flour and add the baking powder.
  • Now take a round metal bowl or the upper part of a double boiler, and weigh out the honey.
  • Now we get started with the dough. This is most easily done with a double boiler or a pot of boiling water and a metal bowl. I personally find the bowl easier to mix the dough in, but it will depend on what you have at hand. Put in the metal bowl over the steaming water and add the honey and heat up to about 50°C or when it has started to bubble slightly.
  • Now add the first bowl with the almonds and spices and mix thoroughly.
  • As the mixure thickens add the cherry brandy and mix well.
  • As you mix the ingredients, ensure the bowl is not getting too hot, and remove from the heat periodically to prevent the sugar from caramelizing.
  • Now start adding the flour and baking powder. Add them slowly and mix them into the dough until the flour has been incorporated. Remove from the heat.

Forming the Cake

  • To make these next steps easier, wipe the baking paper with some cooking oil or non-stick spray.
  • Without delay, transfer the dough to a sheet of baking paper, and place a second sheet of backing on top.
  • With a rolling pin, flatten the dough to a rectangle with thickness of about 1/2-1 cm thick.
  • Remove the upper backing paper and with the rolling pin, ajust the shape and reposition pieces to get a more precise rectangle shape.
  • Place the backing paper back on top and flatten everything again to a homogenous thickeness.
  • Finally remove the upper piece of backing paper and place the rectangle on a backing rack
  • Bake the dough at 200°C for 15-20 minutes.

The Glaze

  • Starting about 5 minutes before the Läckerli is finished baking, add the sugar to the boiling water and stir for about 2 minutes. The mixture should start to thicken as the sugar dissolves.
  • Remove the Läckerli from the oven and immediatly brush the cake with the glaze
  • Let the Läckerli cake cook a bit, and once the sugar glaze begins to crystallize, cut the cake into cookie-sized pieces using a pizza cutter.

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