Mrs. Marti's Lebkuchen



LEBKUCHEN – 3 lbs. brown sugar, 1 cup water, 1 T soda, 1 T cloves, 1 T allspice, 4 eggs, well beaten, ¼ lb. citron, ¼ lb. almonds. Flour to stiffen. Let stand over night. Cut in squares and spread top with cream or milk, and place on each one ½ almond and bake. – MRS. ED. MARTI, Kochville.”

-- From the Kochville Methodist Church Jubilee Cookbook, c. 1926


The vagueness of the recipe almost certainly reflects that author’s assumption that the reader knew how to cook and was familiar with the finished product. This is my interpretation of Mrs. Marti’s Lebkuchen.


 

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. Brown Sugar

  • 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 Cups Flour

  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cloves

  • 1/4 1b. Citron

  • 1/4 lb. Almonds (chopped)

  • 4 eggs, beaten

  • 1 cup warm water

  • Cream

  • Whole Raw Almonds cut in Half

  • Flour for Pastry Cloth


 

Directions


Day 1

Sift together 3 ½ cups of flour, cloves, and allspice. Beat eggs and then add brown sugar. Add citron and almonds. Dissolve soda in warm water and add to mixture. Stir in flour and add additional flour if needed. (I used 4 cups.) Cover and store in refrigerator overnight.


Day 2

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets


Flour pastry cloth or parchment and form dough into ¼ inch thick sheet and cut into 1-inch squares. Place on greased cookie sheets. Using pastry brush, cover surface with cream. Place a ½ of almond in the center of each cookie. Bake 10 – 14 minutes. (Please be aware that we used a convection oven. Cooking times in a regular oven may be longer.)


Notes: This is an interpretation and there may well be more efficient and successful ways to recreate this recipe. I tried to be as faithful as possible; however, some of the techniques needed to be improvised and were borrowed from other lebkuchen recipes.




 

History

“Our Supervisor, Mr. Edward Marti is having an addition put to his house.”

-- Saginaw Herald, September 1, 1903


This recipe has a unique personal connection to museum staff member Tom Trombley – I am writing this post.


My c. 1892 home on Mackinaw Road, Kochville Township was purchased by my grandparents in 1930 from Ida Marti. Since we started this recipe series, I have been looking for a recipe where I could incorporate something that had been owned by the person who developed the recipe – something I was finally able to accomplish. I made it in the kitchen where it was originally baked. My kitchen still features the maple floor and wood trim installed in 1903 – it is in the 1903 addition. However, my cooking appliances are much easier to operate than those that Ida Marti had to contend with.


This Lebkuchen recipe is from the c. 1925 Kochville Methodist Church Jubilee Cook Book. Edward and Ida Marti were members of this church, a congregation to which their parents belonged.


Ida and Edward Marti were married at the home of her parents on June 23, 1892. Her parents’ home was on Kochville Road east of Bay Road. Her father, Anthony Beeker, had moved to Kochville in the 1860s. Her mother’s family, the Gerbers, arrived in the community in 1855. The farm where they would construct their home – and my home - was purchased by the couple from Mrs. Marti’s father. It is a long, narrow farm, broken into two sections by a woodlot that provided a place for cattle to graze and a source of firewood.


Positioned near Mackinaw Road, the wood frame house they had constructed was built from white pine. Almost certainly locally milled, at least a couple of the boards still have the ends of log rafting pins embedded in them. Although simple and straight forward in design, the front gable featured rows of decorative fish scale – like shingles. The 1903 addition included bedroom space for a growing family and a new kitchen and pantry.


Ida Marti’s March 22, 1948 obituary helps fill in some of the details of her life –

“Former resident of Kochville passed away at the Arnold Convalescent Home, Detroit. Ida A Beeker was born July 12, 1869, in Kochville and lived there most of her life. She was married to Edward Marti in Kochville, June 16, 1893 [A newspaper announcement confirms an earlier marriage date of June 23, 1892]. He passed away Oct. 30, 1930. Since that time she has made her home in Detroit. She was a former member of the Kochville Methodist Church and member of a Detroit Methodist Church. Surviving are two daughters and two sons, Mrs. W. A. Hubel, Roland E. Marti, and William C. Ahrens, all of Detroit; Harold C. Marti, Saginaw; two brothers, one sister, Mrs. Nellie Hey, Detroit; Theodore and Charles Beeker, Kochville; five grandchildren.”

Although my grandparents made extensive alterations to the home and the trees that she and Edward planted have grown to maturity, I am certain there are many things Ida Marti would still recognize about the place she once called home.