For a company that makes Nuremburg-style lebkuchen, a trip to Nuremberg is about as good as it gets. Last summer we traveled to Nuremberg to visit friends and reacquaint ourselves with some of the bakeries that helped us fall in love with lebkuchen.
While Nuremberg at Christmastime is an experience not to be missed, a summer visit stands on its own and provides a different perspective of the city. Gone may be the famed Christkindlmarkt and its festive vendors, but in its place you’ll find a vibrant town square, beautiful weather for taking lovely day trips, and Sommer Lebkuchen!
Sommer Lebkuchen is a seasonal variety often enrobed in a pastel-colored coating of chocolate or glaze, with flavors such as raspberry, lime, orange, lemon-mint or peach. Admittedly, we may be purists with mixed feelings about fruity flavors in lebkuchen, but the summer varieties do shake things up with some color. We found some pretty assortments at the excellent Düll lebkuchen bakery.
Of course, given that it was summer, we had some disappointments:
The note on the shuttered doors reads: “Dear customers, Mirus Lebkuchen Bakery has ended this year’s lebkuchen season and thanks all customers. We’ll be back around the middle to end of September.”
Discovering that some of the lebkuchen bakeries on our list were closed until fall, we felt a little like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation, when he and his family arrive after a cross-country trek to find that the Wally World amusement park is closed...
Fortunately for us, the Fraunholz lebkuchen bakery is open year round. This was one of our favorite stops on our trip to Nuremberg. A 4th-generation Lebküchner, Michael Fraunholz gave us the grand tour of the facility and we were able to talk shop about all things lebkuchen-related.
With over 100 years of excellence under their belts, Fraunholz knows a thing or two about lebkuchen. The visit was even more special because Sandy had visited the Fraunholz bakery back in 2010 and was shown the ropes by Michael’s father!
We also paid a visit to the Museum of Industrial Culture, where we got a peek at what things were like in the lebkuchen business in the earlier part of the 20th century. Here are some photos of lebkuchen production at Häberlein-Metzger in 1930. At the turn of the century, the factory was producing 12 million lebkuchen in the period leading up to Christmas.
And here's a shot of one of their retail stores from around the same time:
A nice way to enjoy the long summer twilight is to have a drink in the sloping square that is nestled between the Albrecht-Dürer-Haus (a museum of the former home of the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer) and the looming Imperial Castle of Nuremberg. As an added bonus, you’ll find outposts of the Fraunholz and Düll bakeries just down the block.
A bit further down the road, you’ll find the Michelin-starred restaurant Essigbrätlein.
Known for their innovative use of spices, the chefs at Essigbrätlein are also partners with renowned Bavarian baker Arnd Erbel (read about his famous pretzels in this Saveur piece) in an interesting lebkuchen venture known as Tres Aromas. The company makes lebkuchen with non-traditional flavors such as kaffir lime and black olive. We would have loved to have tried some, but alas, they were out of season. :)
We hope we can make it back to Nuremberg soon!