Introduction: Grandma's German Kuchen
If you are looking for a new dessert recipe to try, German Kuchen is a tasty pastry treat topped with custard and fruit. This recipe is the version my grandmother makes for us on special occasions and can be made with practically any type of fruit you wish. I chose to use canned peaches and blueberries, but pears, raspberries, or blackberries would be suitable as well. There's plenty of room to get creative with flavors and fruit designs!
This recipe uses 8-inch pie tins to make a total of five small Kuchen. You can adjust the recipe accordingly to make a smaller batch or make the whole thing and freeze the extra. They’re just as tasty when thawed!
Step 1: Gather the Ingredients
Ingredients to assemble for dough: (See picture 1)
~ 2 packages dry yeast (equivalent to 4 ½ tsp.)
~ 1 C. warm water
~ ½ C. sugar
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 2 eggs (slightly beaten)
~ ½ C. melted shortening
~ 3 ½ C. flour
Ingredients to gather later for custard filling: (See picture 2)
~ 1 C. sour cream
~ 3 eggs (slightly beaten)
~ ½ C. sugar
~ 1 Tbsp. flour
~ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
~ Fruit (I’m using canned peaches and frozen blueberries) (See picture 3)
~ Cinnamon and sugar for garnish
Step 2: Activate the Yeast
~ Dissolve two packages of dry yeast in one cup of warm water. The water should be warm enough that it’s hot to the touch but not scalding.
~ Let the mixture set for 5-15 minutes, depending on how warm the room is. A layer of foam will form on the surface. (See above picture)
Tip #1: Adding a teaspoon of sugar aids the proofing process.
Tip #2: If your yeast isn’t activating, be sure to check the expiration date.
Step 3: Prepare the Dough
~ Combine the activated yeast, salt, eggs, melted shortening, and half of the flour. (See picture 1)
~ Beat the mixture by hand until it is smooth. (See picture 2)
~ Fold in the remainder of the flour a bit at a time. A sticky dough will form. (See picture 3)
Step 4: Proof the Dough
~ Knead the dough in the bowl for about two minutes. The goal is to make sure everything is well combined.
~ Form a ball with the dough and cover the bowl with Saran Wrap. (See picture 1)
~ Set the dough in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The warmer the temperature, the faster the dough will rise. If you set it in a sunny place, it may rise faster than 45 minutes. (See picture 2)
~ Punch the dough down by folding into the center and squishing down with your fist. One to two minutes is sufficient. (See picture 3)
~ Return the dough to its warm place and let it rise a second time.
Step 5: Make the Custard
~ Whisk the sour cream, eggs, sugar, flour, and vanilla in a pot. (See picture 1)
~ Stir the mixture over medium heat until it thickens. Stir continually to keep it from burning while watching for the right consistency. (See picture 2)
~ Once it reaches the desired thickness, cover the pot and set the custard aside. (See picture 3)
Step 6: Create the Base
~ Lightly flour five 8-inch pie tins.
~ Separate the dough into five equal balls. (See picture 1)
~ On a floured surface, press a ball of dough into a disk shape, flipping as need.
~ Roll the dough out further with a rolling pin, being careful to maintain the circular shape. (See picture 2)
~ Once the dough is slightly larger than the circumference of the pan, transfer it to a floured tin and form the dough to the sides. The dough should come up to the rim of the pan but not over the top like a pie crust. (See picture 3)
~ Repeat the previous steps for the other four balls of dough. Remember to dust your workspace with flour between each roll-out.
Step 7: Assemble the Topping
~ Pour or spoon a dollop of custard mixture into the base of each dough-coated tin. You only need enough to coat the bottom. This gives the fruit something to stick to while you create your design.
Tip: Filling all five tins simultaneously ensures each pastry gets an equal amount of topping.
~ Arrange your choice of fruit in any pattern you wish. Add enough that, when sliced, each bite includes a bit of fruit. (See picture 1)
Tip #1: If using canned peaches or pears, make sure they are well drained. I also sliced them lengthwise to get more coverage.
Tip #2: I used frozen blueberries, but fresh are fine. Other frozen berries such as raspberries or blackberries would work just as well for a variety of flavors.
~ Pour or spoon the remainder of the custard equally over the fruit. (See picture 2)
~ Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top if desired. (See picture 3)
Step 8: Bake
~ Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until the rim is slightly brown. The dough will poof up while baking. (See above photo)
~ Slice and serve!