If you’re a lover of desserts made with summer fruits, the time has come. Apples, pears and citrus fruits have made way for this season’s favorites: stone fruits and berries.
A ripe “juice running down the chin” peach; a plump and luscious golden apricot; a sweet, meaty, blue-black plum; berries bursting with flavor … can anything match these summer pleasures?
Hardly, except for one: these very same delights incorporated into a scrumptious kuchen. Meaning “baked goods” in German, kuchen refers to coffeecakes that originated in central European kitchens.
The perfect vehicle for our rich bounty of seasonal produce, kuchen is a delightful afternoon snack with coffee or tea or a lovely ending for a Shabbat meal. The original treat was made from a rich yeast dough, but today it is also made from cake batter and simple pastry dough. There are many versions of kuchen: streusel-topped, cheese-filled (served on Shavuot) and spice-enhanced. No matter what, the fruit is the star of this delicious, easy favorite.
Plum Cornmeal Kuchen
1 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup cornmeal
11⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. plus 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2⁄3 cup plus 1⁄4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄2 tsp. almond extract
1⁄2 cup sour cream
5 large plums, halved, pitted, each cut into 8 wedges
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Sift flour, cornmeal, baking powder, 1 tsp. cinnamon and salt into small bowl. Set aside. Using electric mixer, in large bowl beat 6 Tbs. butter with 2⁄3 cup sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then extracts. Beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with sour cream in 2 additions. Spread batter in pan.
Arrange plum wedges on their sides in 4 long rows atop batter. In small bowl mix remaining 1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon and 1⁄4 cup sugar. Sprinkle over plums. Melt 2 Tbs. butter and drizzle over kuchen.
Bake until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. Cool until just warm, about 30 minutes, or to room temperature. Cut into 4 lengthwise strips. Cut each strip crosswise into thirds.
Peach Raspberry Kuchen
Makes one 9-inch cake
1 stick (1⁄2 cup) unsalted butter or margarine
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. light brown sugar
1 large egg
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla
1⁄4 tsp. almond extract
11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. double-acting baking powder
3⁄4 tsp. salt
2 firm-ripe peaches
2 Tbs. sugar
1⁄2 pint raspberries
1⁄4 cup currant jelly, melted and cooled
For the shell: In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugars; beat in egg, vanilla and almond extract. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and beat until dough is just combined. Chill for 30 minutes. Press onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim.
For the filling: Peel the peaches, halve them, and cut 3 of the halves into 1⁄8-inch-thick slices, reserving the remaining halves for another use. Arrange slices decoratively in the shell, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle with sugar and bake kuchen in the lower third of a preheated 375-degree oven for 20 minutes. Arrange the raspberries decoratively over the peaches and bake for 10 minutes more. Transfer kuchen to a rack, brush fruit with the jelly, and let the kuchen cool for 15 minutes. Remove rim of the pan and serve the kuchen warm or at room temperature.
Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to firstname.lastname@example.org.