Margariten Lebkuchen

Margariten Lebkuchen

July 20: Feast Day of St. Margaret of Antioch

One of the patron saints of nurses, St. Margaret of Antioch, has a nutritious recipe, Margariten lebkuchen, associated with her feast day. Her “cake” contains spelt flour, which comes from a non-wheat grain.  The ancients believed spelt can cure many ailments, probably because it is easily digested and contains more protein than wheat flour. Because of its health properties and biblical references, spelt is considered a wonder for one’s body and soul.

Making Margariten lebkuchen gave us a good reason to search for spelt flour at our local specialty health food stores/organic markets. We have enjoyed trying new recipes and ingredients to cook for our blog as well as learning about the history of these ethnic and eclectic dishes.


(Adapted from St. Hildegard’s cookbook cited in Maggie’s Kitchen)


  • 2 cups spelt flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teapoons baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons milk


In a large mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, yogurt, sugar and salt until creamy. Mix in the coriander, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom powder, cloves and nutmeg. In a small cup, dissolve the baking soda in milk and stir well. Blend the baking soda-milk mixture into the batter. Gradually add the spelt flour and mix until a dough is formed.

Margariten Lebkuchen

Spread the dough into a greased, 10-inch round cake or springform pan. Bake on the bottom rack of a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice into wedges and serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar (optional).

Margariten Lebkuchen


  • St. Hildegard von Bingen, creator of the Margariten Lebkuchen recipe, was a multi-talented Benedictine nun in the medieval period who believed in the holistic and natural approach to healing. She was a prolific composer and writer, and she published a cookbook from which the above recipe is adapted.
  • The original recipe calls for one cup whole-meal spelt flour and 2 ¼ cups spelt flour. If spelt flour is unavailable, whole wheat flour may be substituted.
  • Spelt is mentioned in Ezekiel 4:9: “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof …”
  • This aromatic spice “cake” had the consistency of a loaf or coarse gingerbread with a smidgen of sweetness.