Taste the recipes from Janáček's housekeeper's cookbook at the Janáček Brno 2024 festival

Throughout the Janáček Brno festival 1 – 24 November 2024 some of Brno's gatronomic establishments awarded in the Gourmet Brno 2023 will be offering the Maestro's favourite delicacies based on the recipes of his housekeeper, Marie Stejskalová, published in Marie's Cookbook. 

  • Cheesecake with Janáček's rosehip biscuits, Café Placzek, Minoritská 4
  • Janáčeks' lentil burgers, Kohout NA VÍNĚ, Malinovského nám. 2
  • Janáček's little butter tubes, Cukrářství Martinák, Poštovská 4 (Alfa Pasáž)
  • Janáček's marble slices, Buchta C, Zelný trh 10
  • Janáček's doughnuts, Kobliha Brno, Pekařská 68
  • Janáček's good black coffee, qb coffee roasters, Veslařská 179
  • Janáček's chestnut cake, Zemanova kavárna a cukrárna, Josefská 4
  • Janáček's walnut slices in glass, Jazzová kavárna Podobrazy, Zelný trh 14
  • Janáček's meringue kisses, Cukrárna Tutti frutti, Mendlovo nám. 18
  • Janáček's yeast buns with custard, Mlsná holka, Poštovská 1
  • Janáček's currant tart, Café Punkt., Bayerova 7
  • Shredded pancakes with Janáček's stewed rowanberries, Kafe v rozkladu, Veselá 6
  • Janáček's apricot dumplings, Kavárna Era, Zemědělská 30

Cheesecake with Janáček's rosehip biscuits

Café Placzek, Minoritská 4

Biscuits from rosehip jam

170g of sugar, 70g of blanched grated almonds, a little lemon rind and a tablespoon of the jam. Mix it all together, form it into one long, thin piece and then roll it out evenly to roughly the thickness of a finger, beat half an egg white with sugar to make icing and glaze the top nicely with it, then cut small pieces with a knife, immediately lift them with the knife, form them into shapes and place on a baking sheet. Then leave them on a low heat to dry out.

"The master liked the rosehip biscuits best of all. He recommended them to all our guests and copied out the recipe for them himself."

Janáček's lentil burgers 

Kohout NA VÍNĚ, Malinovského nám. 2

Take ⅛ litre of lentils, dry them on the stove or in a warm oven and grind them in a coffee grinder (cleaned thoroughly of course) or crush them in a mortar. Then put the ground lentiles into a pot, cover them with water and then cook them for about  3/4 hour until they form a thick mash. However, you need to stir them regularly to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. Then allow the mash to cool down, add pepper, marjoram, one grated onion, salt, one egg and about three teaspoons of goose fat or lard.[i] Mix well together and add enough breadcrumbs so that the batter is neither too thick or too thin. Then form burgers from the mixture, cover them in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and bake them in lard or butter. Serve the burgers with cabbage and potatoes or salad. People think they are from meat if they don't know otherwise. Delicious, nutritious and most importantly - inexpensive food.

[i] The vegetarian version contains fried onion instead of animal fat

"Whenever the master was angry — and this was often his nature — then we'd quickly make something he'd like, and it was funny how with each mouthful the storm inside him would abate and transform into satisfaction."

Janáček's little butter tubes

Cukrářství Martinák, Poštovská 4 (Alfa pasáž)

Butter pastry fot the tubes

1/2 kg of butter, 1/2 kg of flour. Divide the flour into two parts, add 20g of butter and the juice of a lemon to the first part along with a little salt and knead together with an egg and a little water to form the dough. Chop the rest of the butter into the second part and work in with a rolling pin, then roll it out flat, add the first part to it, fold in and leave to rest till the next day. Then fold it over three times and make it into little tubes or turnovers.

"Our master insisted on good food. There were no elevenses or snacks, but at midday and in the evening he ate a lot and with gusto."

Janáček's marble slices

Buchta C, Zelný trh 10

Cream 200g fresh butter for half an hour with 300g sugar and 4 egg yolks. While creaming, add in ⅛ litre milk one teaspoon at a time, 1 packet of Oetker's powder and lemon zest. When it is all well combined, add 300g flour and 4 stiffly beaten egg whites. A third of the batter gets coloured with a teaspoon of cocoa and the rest stays white. Place alternating spoonfuls of white and dark batter on a well-greased and dusted baking sheet. Spread the batter out to about the thickness of your pinkie and lightly draw the tip of a knife across it several times to make the marbling. Bake in a warm oven until deep golden brown. Once baked, turn out and glaze with white icing: mix 250g sugar with one egg white and a little lemon juice until thick. Spread the icing evenly over the surface, colour two tablespoons of icing using cocoa and form marbling on the white, then cut the slab into squares or rectangles.

"The mistress would come back from shopping and we'd start cooking. We'd put on bright aprons, Slovácko embroidered bonnets and divide the work; she'd do the meat, I'd do the desserts."

Janáček's doughnuts

Kobliha Brno, Pekařská 68 

Jewish doughnuts (Doughnuts with almonds)

In a bowl cream one eighth (100g) fat, one eighth (40g) sugar, one eighth (5) egg yolks and then dissolve 3 kreutzers' worth of yeast in ¼ lukewarm milk. Then put in a handful of almonds, blanched and cut into slivers, 2 tablespoons of rum, a little sugar and salt and enough flour to make a dough as for ordinary doughnuts. Work this thoroughly and then leave to rise. Once they have risen, form them into little balls and let them rise again, then fry them, and once you have finished frying them, coat them in vanilla sugar and serve. 

"He took great pride in our doughnuts. If he wanted to push the boat out, he would order us to make doughnuts."

Janáček's good black coffee

qb coffee roasters, Veslařská 179

How to brew good black coffee

Brew 80g of the best-quality coffee in 1 litre of boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes without chicory.

"Lunch ended with black coffee, the master went to lie down for a while on the sofa, the mistress and I washed the dishes."

Janáček's chestnut cake

Cream 120g fresh butter well, mix in 8 egg yolks, 180g vanilla sugar and a little lemon zest. Mix it all together well and cream for another half hour. Then stir in chestnuts prepared in the following way: Blanch ½ kg chestnuts, peel them like almonds and simmer in milk until tender. Once cooked, drain them, chop into small pieces and mix them in with the rest. Add in 3 tablespoons of cherry liqueur, 8 stiffly whipped egg whites and 140g peeled and grated almonds. Grease two cake tins with butter, dust with flour, fill with batter and bake for ¾ hour. The cake tins must be the same. Once baked, spread with chestnut filling, place on top of each other and glaze with chocolate icing. Chestnut filling: peel and blanch 120g chestnuts and simmer them in milk. Once cooked, pass through a sieve, pour water over ¼ of the sugar and bring to the boil. When it has thickened, mix in the sieved chestnuts and 120g grated hazelnuts. Simmer for a short while, then leave to cool. Whip 2/10 litre sweet cream until frothy and stir into the cooled puree.

At the Zeman café you can also enjoy Janáček's walnut biscuits (Marie's Cookbook, p. 60) and marble cake (ibid, p. 148).

Janáček's walnut slice in glass

Janáček's lemon pudding in glass

Walnut slices

Cream 140g walnuts and 140g sugar well with 8 egg yolks, add 55g breadcrumbs from rolls, 70g flour and 6 stiffly beaten egg whites. Grease a cake tin with butter, dust with flour, spread the batter out in it and bake in the oven at a low temperature. Once baked, glaze with rum icing, slice into diamond shapes and decorate with halved walnuts.

Other lemon pudding

In a deep dish add 90g sugar to 9 egg yolks, the zest of ½ a lemon and juice of 1 lemon and 6 stiffly beaten egg whites. Mix it all together, put in a cake tin and bake.

"Before her wedding, the mistress learned to cook at the renowned kitchens of the Old Brno Monastery. Apparently, twelve brides and one soldier went there, who was learning to cook for the officers' mess. A fat cook taught her – the brides soon found out he was skimming off for himself – and a thin dessert chef, fräulein Máli."

Janáček's meringue kisses

Cukrárna Tutti frutti, Mendlovo nám. 18

Meringue kisses I.

70g sugar to one egg white. Whip the egg white till it forms stiff peaks, then add the sugar and beat it again until it is very stiff, then make small meringues and dry them out in the oven at a low temperature. Place on a wax-coated baking sheet.

"From the start of December we'd bake a big tray of confectionery, we'd make up to seventeen different kinds." 

Janáček's yeast buns with custard

Mlsná holka, Poštovská 1

Yeast buns with custard

Custard: Put ½ litre milk, 4 egg yolks, 60g sugar, a little vanilla and 20g potato flour on the stove and stir constantly until the custard thickens. Then take off the heat, keep stirring for a little while longer and then pour over small yeast "ducat" buns.

"The master ate a lot and enjoyed what he liked, he was very fond of good cuisine."

Janáček's currant tart

Café Punkt., Bayerova 7

Currant tart

Cut 140g flour, 87.5g butter and 70g sugar together on a pastry board, add 2 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons milk, quickly work together into a dough, form a tart with a raised edge and bake. Put the currants on top of the baked base, sprinkle with lots of sugar, then decorate with "Spanish breath" pastry (make a lattice over the tart) and leave to dry. 

Spanish breath: 70g sugar to one egg white. 

"I knew best the restorative effect the master's favourite food had on him."

Shredded pancakes with Janáček's stewed rowanberries

Kafe v rozkladu, Veselá 6

Stewed rowanberries

Simmer 250g sugar with a quarter litre of water, sprinkle over half a kg rowanberries, washed and taken off the stems, and simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the rowanberries with a ladle, mull the remaining juice with vanilla or a small piece of cinnamon and a glass of red wine until thickened, then pour over the rowanberries.

"Our master knew how to praise food as well as find fault with it." 

Janáček's apricot dumplings

Kavárna Era, Zemědělská 30

Apricot dumplings

Grate 6 large boiled potatoes, add a big pat of butter, 4 whole eggs, a little salt and cream it well. Enough flour to make a soft dough, and a whole apricot. Boil for 10 minutes in salted water.

"The garden behind our house had a few fruit trees growing in it: two pear trees, a plum tree, an apricot tree and a cherry tree. All three of us liked working there…the master himself would climb up the ladder when he was picking the fruit."



Recipes • A Chronicle of Our Life

Written by Marie Stejskalová, housekeeper to Leoš Janáček and his family

"Our master insisted on good food. There were no elevenses or snacks, but at midday and in the evening he ate a lot and with gusto. He knew how to praise the cuisine as well as find fault with it."

What did the most frequently performed Czech opera composer like to eat? Find out by delving into the cookbook of Marie Stejskalová, the Janáčeks' housekeeper (in Czech language only).

Marie Stejskalová (1873-1968) was the Janáčeks' housekeeper for over forty years. One of the items preserved in the Leoš Janáček Archive of the Moravian Museum is her book of recipes, mostly for various desserts and sweet dishes. This in itself would not be of such interest had the observant Mářa (as the Janáčeks called her) not interspersed the recipes with notes concerning the life and work of the master, which she called A Chronicle of Our Life. As a result, the cookbook contains unique information about the genesis of some of Janáček's works and brief descriptions of events from the housekeeper's viewpoint, as well as that of Janáček's wife Zdenka, to whom Mářa was a constant source of support. The publication includes numerous editor's notes on the people and situations mentioned as well as illustrations by the artist Vendula Chalánková depicting scenes from the life of the Janáček family as recalled by Mářa.

Marie Stejskalová's recipe book is kept in the Leoš Janáček Archive of the Moravian Museum, which is part of UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.

Publisher: TIC BRNO and the Moravian Museum. 

On sale in information centers TIC BRNO and in the e-shop darkyzbrna.cz