Leipziger Lerchen — a Delicious Story

6249 Leipsiger Lerche Kaffe KandlerLeipziger Lerchen (Photo Copyright Stillman Rogers)

Leipzig’s signature pastry is the Leipziger Lerche, Leipzig Lark. The name is more than a mere flight of fancy.

Since Medieval times – and probably before that – songbirds and especially larks were a popular dish, and those fattened in the terroir of Leipzig’s riversides were especially sought-after by those who could afford the luxury. Larks from the city were shipped by the hundreds of thousands each year to be stewed, grilled, pan-fried, sautéed and roasted in kitchens from Madrid to Moscow. Leipzig’s own favorite recipe, known as Leipziger Lerchen, stuffed and trussed the tiny birds (they are only about six inches long) and wrapped them in pastry to roast.

Hunting and exporting larks was a highly profitable business as early as the mid-1600s and by the 1720s exports from the city and surrounding region reached over a million annually. This mass slaughter of songbirds was decried by wildlife advocates for a century before the Saxon King Albert I outlawed their hunting in 1876.

Residents mourned the loss of their special dish, and an inventive Leipzig baker created a pastry to commemorate this lost pleasure. History doesn’t tell us the name of the baker who first created Leipziger Lerchen as a sweet pastry, nor can anyone claim to have the one original recipe. Each bakery developed its own version, but the basic ingredients, method and shape are all much the same.

Small fluted tart shells of butter-rich pastry are filled with a mixture of ground almonds lightened by beaten egg whites. Beneath this filling is a dot of red jam or a cherry, which – or so the story goes – represented the heart of the lark. Before baking, the tart is topped with a small cross made of the pastry, thought to represent the trussing that held the stuffing in place.

If you see these pastries for sale anywhere outside of Leipzig, they will (or should) have another name — the name Leipziger Lerche has been protected by the Saxonian Bakery Guild since 1998.

About mstrav

Barbara Radcliffe Rogers, with her partner Stillman Rogers, is the author and co-author of more than 30 travel guidebooks covering destinations as far-flung as Newfoundland and Spain's Canary Islands. Wherever she travels, local food is a passion, whether it's hunting for white truffles in Italy's Piemonte or sampling farmstead cheeses in Vermont or Normandy. When at home -- and while traveling -- she loves to ski, kayak and relax afterwards in a spa.
This entry was posted in Germany Bites, Traditional Bites and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Leipziger Lerchen — a Delicious Story

  1. Stillman Rogers says:

    Delightful with a mid-afternoon coffee! Do enjoy Leipzig

  2. Pingback: Our Most Delicious Culinary Memories | Getting On Travel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s