18th century Printen cast
|Place of origin||Germany|
|Region or state||Aachen|
|Main ingredient(s)||sugar beets, spices (cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, allspice, ginger)|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010)|
Aachener Printen are a type of Lebkuchen originating from the city of Aachen in Germany. Somewhat similar to gingerbread, Printen were originally sweetened with honey, but for two centuries the tradition is to use a syrup made from sugar beets.
The term is a protected designation of origin and so all manufacturers can be found in or near Aachen.
The first pastries of this kind most likely originated from the city of Dinant in nearby Belgium. The city has produced pastries with engraved pictures for over a thousand years. Copper producing craftsmen, another specialty of Dinant, who emigrated to Aachen in the 15th century brought the recipe, concept and tradition of engraved pastries with them to Aachen. Originally, the Printen were sold by pharmacists since some of their ingredients (honey, several herbs and spices) were considered to possess medical benefits.
Originally sweetened with honey, nowadays Printen are sweetened with the syrup from sugar beets as honey became temporarily unavailable when Napoleon issued a trade embargo, banning all trade with the main supplier of honey, the United States. The tradition of sweetening with sugar beets was kept even after Napoleon was defeated and the French occupation lifted.
Printen are made from a variety of ingredients including cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, allspice and also ginger. The exact mixture of these ingredients, however, is a close kept secret of the individual Printen bakeries.
Additionally to the original Printen, there are also Printen with nuts (usually almonds), covered in chocolate or glaze and marzipan.
- Aachener Printen: Ihr Mix bleibt ein Betriebsgeheimnis Holger Iburg, Merian magazine, May 2010. (German)
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