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


The exhibition In the Janáček's kitchen

Visit the exhibition In the Janáček's kitchen at the Leoš Janáček Memorial, Moravian Museum. It presents original illustrations by Vendula Chalánková for the publication Mářa's Cookbook with recipes of Janáček's housekeeper Marie Stejskalová. The installation also includes art objects that Chalánková "cooked and baked" according to Mářa's recipes.

The exhibition will run until October 15, 2021.

The partner of the exhibition is TIC Brno.

Taste Janáček's favourite desserts in Brno cafés and tearooms.

Janáček's rosehip biscuits

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

Biscuits from rosehip jam

170g sugar, 70g 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.

Café Placzek, Minoritská 4

Janáček's little butter tubes

Butter pastry fot the tubes

1 kg butter, 1 kg flour. Divide the flour into two parts, add 20g 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.

Cukrářství Martinák, Veveří 14

Janáček's chocolate cake

Butter strudel with quark

Whisk 8 yolks together with 120g sugar until fluffy, mix in 4 bars of chocolate, 210g grated unpeeled almonds and stiff egg whites from 8 eggs. Grease a cake tin with butter and sprinkle with flour, put the dough in it and bake slowly. Spread one cake with chocolate cream, place the other on top and pour lemon icing over it. Chocolate crème: whisk together 70g sugar and two whole eggs in a dish set in hot water on the stove until stiff peaks form. Once hot, remove from the stove and continue whisking until it has cooled down, then mix in 1.5 bars of grated chocolate and 50g fresh butter.

V melounovém cukru, Františkánská 17 

Janáček's doughnuts

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

Jewish doughnuts (Vanilla balls)

In a bowl cream 100g fat, 4 egg yolks, lemon rind. Dissolve 30g yeast in ¼ litre of lukewarm milk, 90g blanched sliced almonds, 40g sugar, a pinch of salt and enough flour to make a dough as with ordinary doughnuts. Knead together well and leave to rise. Once they have risen, form them into small pieces (about 15g in weight), leave them to rise again and then fry them. After they have been fried, cover them in vanilla sugar and serve. The individual pieces must weigh 15g, then they turn out nicely.

Cukrárna Mlsná holka, Poštovská 1 

Kugler cake from the kitchen of Leoš Janáček

(Hungarian recipe)

Cream 7 yolks and 140g sugar, then add 160g blanched and ground almonds and continue to beat together. Then mix in 140g chocolate which has been left to soften in the oven and finally 7 stiff egg whites. Bake the dough in a greased and dusted cake tin. Serve the cake, which is very moist, the next day with whipped cream, without icing or any filling.

Take 5, Espresso bar & Gourmet shop, Bubeníčkova 44

Cupcake Janáček

Based on the recipe for hazelnut cake.

Hazelnut cake

Whip four egg whites to form stiff peaks, 125g sugar, 125g grated hazelnuts, a little vanilla, mix it all together and divide into two parts. Grease a cake tin, place half the mixture in the tin, get it nice and flat, bake for about ¼ of an hour, immediately turn out onto the worktop, let the tin cool, grease it again, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, add the second half and bake, once it has cooled completely, fill it with buttercream: 60g butter, 50g sifted sugar, a little of it with vanilla, one egg yolk and two tablespoons of good coffee added slowly while stirring continuously until the buttercream is nice and thick. Then spread it over one half and place the other on top.

Cupcakekárna, Náměstí Svobody 21