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Mrs. Max Heavenrich's Almond Cake

“Mrs. Max Heavenrich died at the family home, 603 South Jefferson avenue Saturday morning at 6 o’clock after an illness of several years. Mr. Heavenrich died just three weeks ago.”

Ester Lillenthal was born in New York City September 15, 1853. As a child she went with her parents to Cincinnati where she spent her childhood, living there till she was married to Mr. Heavenrich April 22, 1873. Then they went to St. John’s where they lived until 1879 when they came to Saginaw where they have made their home ever since. Mrs. Heavenrich leaves two children, Max P. Heavenrich and Miss. Pepi Heavenrich.

The funeral will take place from the home Monday afternoon at 3 o’clock and will be private. Friends are requested to omit flowers.”

--The Saginaw News Courier, February 21, 1920

For generations of Saginaw residents, the Heavenrich name was synonymous with the family’s department store. Located on the northeast corner of East Genesee and Franklin, the store was started by Jacob Seligman, better known at Little Jake. In 1878, Max Heavenrich and his brothers formed a partnership with Seligman and within a few years purchased his share of the business.

(Left:) Announcement that the store would be closed in respect for Mrs. Heavenrich.

While Saginaw newspapers record the business and community activities of Max Heavenrich, in detail, they only provide a glimpse into the activities, interest and accomplishments of Ester Lillenthal Heavenrich. She was active in the Temple Beth-El Sisterhood. Her husband was one the original trustees of Temple Beth El and would serve as its president. A dedicated supporter of the Saginaw Woman’s Hospital, during a 1905 campaign for new children’s ward, The Saginaw Evening News reported:

Mrs. Max Heavenrich, is in receipt of checks from Detroit, Alma and other outside points, in addition to many local contributions. Commendable energy has been shown by Mrs. Heavenrich and the ladies associated with her in this benevolent work . . .

What the paper wrote of Max Heavenrich seems equally true for Ester Heavenrich:

But besides his personal works of charity and relief, Mr. Heavenrich lent his aid to organized charity work with equal zeal.”

--The Saginaw News Courier, February 14, 1926

Max and Ester Heavenrich’s children followed their parents’ model in their involvement and engagement in their community.

Max and Ester Hevenrich's daughter, Pepi, lived with her parents at 603 S. Jefferson. After her parents’ death in 1920, she sold the home and moved to the Bancroft Hotel.

(Left): The Max Heavenrich family home was located at 603 South Jefferson Avenue. It is in the center of this 1907 montage.

(Center): Announcement that Heavenrich home is for sale, from The Saginaw News Courier, May 30, 1920.

(Right): Announcement of sale of household effects.

To learn more about the Heavenrich family’s involvement in the establishment of school scholarships:

The Recipe

The original version of the recipe from The Saginaw Cookbook published by the First Congregational Church:

“ Separate the whites and yolks of 8 eggs; stir the yolks 15 minutes with one cup of sugar, and rind and juice of a lemon. Then add ½ cup blanched and chopped almonds, 3.4 cup cracker crumbs, rolled fine, and lastly the whites. Mrs. Max Heavenrich”

The interpreted version from Savoring Saginaw:

8 eggs separated

1 c. sugar

Rind and juice of 1 lemon ½ lb. blanched, chopped almonds

1 c. finely rolled cracker crumbs

Sift sugar. Beat yolks and add sugar gradually, beating until mixture is very creamy. Add grated rind and lemon juice and very finely chopped almonds and crumbs.

Beat eggs whites until stiff but not dry and fold in. Bake in 8-inch tube pan at 350 degrees, Dust top with powdered sugar.

We baked the cake for approximately 40 minutes at the recommended temperature in a convection oven. The test kitchen staff agonized about oiling the pan. Except for the bottom, we did not have a problem freeing it from the pan. That said, the bottom was a problem. The next time we will try oiling just the bottom of pan. And there will be a next time. It is surprisingly wonderful.



In the case of this recipe, the vagueness of the original recipe – you may have noted that omits any refence to cooking the cake – suggests that either Mrs. Heavenrich assumed that the reader was an exceptional cook or she was not really that engaged with food preparation. By the time she submitted this recipe to the Saginaw cookbook, the Heavenrich household included two servants.

Although not a part of a traditional Hanukkah menu, this almond cake would not seem inappropriate.

1 Comment

Albina Konovalova
Albina Konovalova
Jan 17, 2023

I wonder what restaurant check holder the Lenten menu should have. Probably something to do with religion or something like that.

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