Saturday, February 8, 2014

Elisabet Delbrück's Apfelküchen

(from Mary Knox)

My parents' friendship with 'Aunt Lisbet' is one of my earliest memories. She was a most remarkable person: intellectual, artistic, a little intimidating to strangers but a loving friend.

From a well-off family in Germany, she was happily married until her husband was involved in a ballooning accident and drowned in the Baltic sea. She turned to the study of painting and did extremely well; by the time post-World-War 1 inflation in Germany destroyed her financial security, she was beginning to earn a living from the sales of her paintings. 


In 1923 she made the courageous decision to travel the world, supporting herself by holding exhibitions and selling paintings and prints, and giving talks about Germany and about her travels. After spending time in the Dutch East Indies, South and Central America, Africa and finally Australia, she came to New Zealand - and World War 2 broke out.

As an 'enemy alien' she came under considerable suspicion. I remember my mother telling me that in one official interview Lisbet had pointed out that some of the prints in her travelling exhibition were of paintings by modern artists who had been banned by Hitler. She was asked to bring some to the office next time. She arranged them around the room, and the official walked round and looked at each. Finally he said, 'Well, for the first time in my life I find myself in agreement with Mr Hitler.'

She never returned to Germany, but lived the rest of her life in Mahina Bay near Eastbourne among her wide circle of friends. She was a notoriously bad cook, but we are fond of her Apfelküchen.

Elisabet Delbrück's Apfelküchen
Line a shallow pan with short pastry, bought or homemade.


Arrange slices of apple in overlapping rows, and sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Bake in a medium oven till cooked.

Margaret Sutherland has written a book about Lisbet, One Artist on Five Continents.