Croatian Cooking: Licitar Recipe

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Croatian Cooking: Licitar Recipe

Ever since I stumbled across my very first Licitar Heart way back in 2000 on my very first vacation in Croatia, I have been fascinated by the history. How cute are these gingerbread like hearts? Not only are they adorable, they are protected. Listed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list since 2010.

Gingerbread Making from Northern Croatia began in the middle Ages, gingerbread cakes made in wooden moulds were produced by many European monasteries, this craftsmanship reached a different level in Northern Croatia and were named called Licitars.

Licitar Heart_Marija Bistrica_Croatia - 1
Croatian Cooking: Licitar Recipe

The process of making licitars requires great skill. A standard recipe of sugar, flour, water, and baking powder is used for all, but the gingerbread is shaped, baked, dried, painted, and decorated with edible colours in a never ending amount of varieties. We were privileged enough to see this first hand on a recent visit to Marija Bistrica, more on that experience coming soon!

Today gingerbread has become one of the most recognisable symbols of Croatian identity, especially in Zagreb.

Licitar Heart_Marija Bistrica_Croatia - Travel Croatia
Licitar Recipe to make these cute little delights

Want to know how to make a Licitar Heart?  Thanks to the Zagreb Tourist Board here is a licitar recipe you can try at home.

Here is an easy-to-follow Licitar recipe.

Licitar is a sweet cake. It is made of dough which was once sweetened with honey, though now sugar is used as it’s an inexpensive ingredient.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg sugar
  • 600 ml water
  • 30 grams gingerbread yeast (ammonium bicarbonate)
  • 2 kg all-purpose flour
  • 1 kg gelatine
  • 3 litres of water
  • Edible colouring
  • Gelatine
  • Sugar syrup
  • Potato flour
  • Edible colour
Licitar Heart_Marija Bistrica_Croatia - Travel Croatia
Licitar Hearts made in Zagorije
Licitar Heart_Marija Bistrica_Croatia - Travel Croatia
Croatian Cooking: Gingerbread moulds
 Licitar-Heart_Marija-Bistrica_Croatia- Travel Croatia
Croatian Cooking: Licitars ready for decorating

Licitar Recipe

  1. Mix together the dough ingredients, and let it stand for about eight hours. Knead the dough again and roll out on a table with a rolling pin. C
  2. Cut the gingerbread with the gingerbread moulds and place on greased and floured baking pan. Preheat oven to 300ºC and bake gingerbread for 8 minutes. After baking, remove excess flour from the gingerbread and leave to dry for several days.
  3. Soak the gelatine in water, mix well and cook in a double boiler until thick. Add colour. Dip the smaller licitar shapes into the glaze, remove them and hang them to dry (at least one day). Add the glaze to larger licitar shapes using a pastry brush.
  4. To decorate the licitar, combine the ingredients and fill a pastry bag and add the desired nozzle. When the decorations are dry, the licitar is finished.

Note: We have not yet tried this recipe and are republishing it from the Zagreb Tourist Board’s files. If you have any questions you can tweet or facebook them to ask.

Let us know if you give this Licitar recipe a try and how it turns out.

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Comments (9)

  1. I don’t think you are suppose to eat them…i have fond memories of these decorations from the Croatian picnics i used to goto with my dad who is Croatian. I remember these hanging up and the older woman selling them and also getting them from relatives that would travel back to the country to visit and bring back me and my siblings souveniers…i loved them…they were so pretty as a kid you didn’t understand the story behind the heart but just saw this beautiful red cookie and wanting to eat it but with the mirror in the center you kind of realized it was decoration…just a wonderful little reminder for me of the past and the fun and family times…

  2. SJ, You know I’ve been interested in these since your first post on them. I love that you got to seem being made…lucky you!

    1. Yes, and now I finally know where to tell people to go (that’s for an upcoming post) to see it done.

  3. They look so pretty I’ll feel bad for eating them. I love gingerbread cookies and cakes, so I’m sure I will like Licitars. I’ll show this to my husband – he’s the baker in the family. Who knows, maybe he might try the recipe!

  4. Licitar hearts are one of the first things I remember reading about in your blog. They’re so beautiful, and I remember how surprised I was to find out that they’re cookies, not ornaments. I like baking and cookie decorating, so I’ll have to give the recipe a try. I’m sure mine won’t turn out nearly as pretty. Thanks for much for explaining what gingerbread yeast is.

  5. Those are incredible! We have much larger and less intricate gingerbread cookie hearts here in Lithuania that are special to the St. Casmir Festival (this weekend).

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