What made Gustav Mahler really happy

What made Gustav Mahler really happy

Daily Comfort Zone

norman lebrecht

October 28, 2022

Elbie Lebrecht has been studying recipes for Marillenknödel, Mahler’s favourite dessert.

Do try this at home. Here’s how you make them….mmmmm:

Gustav Mahler’s favourite dish was Apricot Dumplings – Marillenknödel in German and meruňkové knedlíky in Czech. Marillen is the Austro-Bavarian term for apricots and sweet ripe Austrian apricots are used in this recipe.

Ferdinand I of Austria famously ordered Marillenknödel when apricots were out of season. On being informed of lack of supplies he replied, “I am the Emperor and I want dumplings!” Over time, Austria became a Republic.

So let’s begin! I have been comparing recipes and videos to determine the best way to create Marillenknödel.

What are Apricot dumplings made of apart from apricots? The dumpling dough is either made from a type of farmer’s curd cheese (Topfen) or potato (Erdapfel). The dough is wrapped around the apricots (with pits replaced by a sugar cube) to make round balls. They are placed in boiling water and then rolled in sweetened cinnamon flavoured breadcrumbs before serving. The recipes in this article use curd cheese. White cheese in baking gives a surprisingly light and moist texture.

Here is the recipe used in a video from the Vienna Tourism website and my notes on the side indicate alternative ingredients. The video is simple and brief and gives you the basic steps to create these delicious dumplings.

500 g curd cheese ( or use a mixture of butter and curd cheese, so less cheese)
100g wheat semolina ( or use 200g flour instead of wheat semolina and breadcrumbs)
100 g breadcrumbs
16 g vanilla sugar ( or use 1 tbs granulated sugar + 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
2 eggs
1 dash of rum (optional)
75 g castor sugar
zest of one lemon
8 apricots

Mix ingredients together to make a soft dough.

Put in fridge for minimum 30 minutes

Remove apricot pits

Insert sugar cube instead

Form a ball with dough

Press flat

Place apricot in the middle

Wrap round to form a dumpling and pinch sides together so no seams visible

Place batches of dumplings in simmering water

Cook for 20 minutes (other recipes say 10-13 minutes)


Melt 50 g butter

Stir in 130 g breadcrumbs

add 50 g sugar (can also add cinnamon)

Stir till golden brown

Carefully roll dumplings in breadcrumbs

Place on serving plate and sieve a little icing sugar on top.

Here is a German language video (with subtitles in any language you choose) from the Holidays in Austria website. It take a serious approach to the subject, discussing how the ingredients interact with each other. What it does not do is give quantities but is still worth watching for the approach of chef Markus Lindner :

Guten appetit!

A doctor writes: Mahler suffered from constipation and haemorrhoids. Consume with discretion.



  • Rob says:

    I’ll need a gluten-free alternative….

  • Herbie G says:

    Will eating these while listening to Mahler make his music more enjoyable? Should we be eating Tournedos Rossini help us when we listen to the William Tell overture – perhaps followed by apple turnover? What about Peach Melba when listening to her recordings?

    I can’t see the point of this thread.

    • soavemusica says:

      The point of it is that it is good fun, and quite probably delightful.

      As is the fact that the late Queen, when presented a new item on the menu without a required recipe, asked the Royal Chef Darren McGrady:

      “What or who are the Veiled Farmer`s Daughters?!”

      It reminds me of this dessert in the elements, but is simpler to make.


    • L Kasilag says:

      Well, because its delicious? I don’t see your point of why its really necessary to connect these to their music. Is it wrong to enjoy these apricots as much as Mahler enjoys them?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      And you wonder why you’re not invited to parties…

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Good questions. We can all agree, however, that good food is one of life’s delights, and that it doesn’t have to be enjoyed in conjunction with music.

      Also, recipes sometimes don’t work that well outside their original geographic region, because of different ingredients.

  • Back desk 2nd violinist says:

    Mmmh, lecker!

  • a colleague says:

    also known as krapfen…

  • Paul Johnson says:

    Who says this site isn’t deliciously informative!
    Thanks Elbie!

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    ==Maher suffered from constipation and haemorrhoids.

    He kind of liked suffering

    • Petros Linardos says:

      With musicology in general, and Mahler in particular (especially in this blog), sometimes we have too much information.

  • J Barcelo says:

    Since vol. 4 of Henry-Louis de La Grange’s monumental Mahler biography appeared, I’ve been making the Apricot Dumpling recipe he inserted in Appendix 31. dLG doesn’t say whether it is the same recipe Mahler preferred. The biggest difference in that recipe and the one above is the use of “mealy” potatoes rather than cheese curds.

  • Mr. Ron says:

    Good stuff. I doubt that Mahler’s constipation and hemorrhoid’s were due to this.

    In fact, just the opposite. WebMD tells us “Apricots offer plenty of good dietary fiber to help your digestive tract.” Fiber is an anti constipation measure. MedicalNewsToday says: “Fiber is vital because it helps the body regulate its blood sugar levels. It also aids digestion, which helps prevent constipation and promote overall gastrointestinal health.”

    Wikipedia tells us, “In Jewish culture, apricots are commonly eaten as part of the Tu Bishvat seder.” Mahler was Jewish, of course.

    Do NOT eat the seed.

    I personally enjoy apricot compote.

  • Gustavo says:

    Lection No. 1:

    die Marille – Austrian
    die Aprikose – German

  • Gustavo says:

    haemorrhoids = Arschkrampen


  • norman lebrecht says:

    Stephan Catalano writes:

    The simplest and finest preparation for Marillenknödel was perhaps my great-grandmother’s :

    Crack one egg into 500 gm of Topfen (or RICOTTA if you can’t find it, what I do in Paris!) and add enough flour to make dough (can add zest of lemon or not) :

    Wrap whole apricots WITH Pits (for flavor!) with the mixture, not too thick, rest 20 minutes.

    Drop into lightly boiling water : when they come up to the surface, they are done!

    Mix equal parts of bread crumbs and sugar and lightly grill with butter until golden (careful, no more – they become like rocks otherwise). Dump this Semmelbrösel over the dumplings and drip several more threads of melted butter over this – – – Serve.

    I make them regularly in Summer as a main meal with Gulaschsuppe before!