Sunday, February 13, 2011

Apple Kuchen

I'm starting to run out of fruit desserts I can make from American Desserts. Everything left in the "Shortcake, Cobblers, Pandowdy, Etc." section seems to involve either peaches or blueberries. Well, it's February, and let me tell you what I can get at the market: apples, pears, and oranges.

Fortunately, the recipe for "Peach Kuchen" allows the substitution of just about any fruit you'd like: apples, pears, blueberries. I went for the apple version, though I bet pears would be really great with the almonds.

This is an interesting cake because it involves both yeast and baking powder, but no rising time. That made it easier to make for Saturday breakfast.

I mentioned to my friends Gabriela and C├ęcile the other day that I was baking a cake for Saturday breakfast. They seemed to find that somewhat surprising, although really they shouldn't be surprised to find me baking at any time or day...

OK, dough ready. Maida wants you to use a frozen 9x13-inch pan and stretch out the dough very thin. I wasn't up for that, and neither was my freezer. So I did a large-ish cake pan, which seemed to work out well.

I only ended up using three of these guys, probably because I used the smaller cake pan. And this time my market guy was right on when he recommended this type for cake. No mush whatsoever!

To me what makes a cake a "breakfast cake" is streusel. Even though streusel has nothing healthy going for it.

Oh, wait--almonds. That counts, right?

So here's the cake ready for the oven: yeast dough, sliced apples, streusel. We've got grain, fruit, and a source of protein. This is breakfast food for sure! And may I add that everyone else was still sleeping when I took this picture?

Mmm...the finished product. Maida wants you to drizzle frosting over it, but let me just say that frosting would NOT add to the cake--it's pretty darned sweet as is. And delicious: the cake is just this side of bread-y; the apples held together nicely; the streusel added that special luxurious crunch. I'm not going to make something this involved for breakfast every Saturday, but it was certainly appreciated this week.

Here's the recipe, as I made it. Make it on any day you want to have your cake and breakfast too.

Apple Kuchen

1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter, room temperature
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
Grated rind of 1 large lemon or 1 small orange (I used the latter)
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. almond extract
scant 1/2 c. (3 oz) sugar
2 large eggs
2 c. (10 oz) flour (I used about 1/3 whole wheat flour)
1-1/2 t. rapid-rise or instant yeast
6 T. (3 oz.) milk

Grease a 10-inch cake or springform pan. Beat the butter with the baking powder and salt until creamy; add the lemon rind, vanilla, and almond and beat a bit longer. Gradually add the sugar and beat about a minute, then beat in the eggs. Mix the yeast with the flour and add half of that, then the milk, then the other half of the flour mixture, beating on low speed just until incorporated each time. Scrape the batter, which will be pretty thick, into the pan and spread it around. Let sit in a warm place while you get the fruit and streusel ready. Heat the oven to 350.

3 apples (or pears, or peaches, or blueberries, or a combination)

Peel the apples; quarter and core them. Cut each quarter into 3-4 slices and arrange the apple slices decoratively on the cake. If you're using pears or peaches, do approximately the same thing; blueberries just need to be sprinkled on (I think I'd want a fairly thick layer).

scant 1/2 c. (3 oz.) brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. (1.25 oz.) flour
3 T. (1.5 oz.) butter
1/2 c. (2 oz.) sliced almonds

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and flour. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers. Mix in the almonds. Sprinkle the streusel over the fruit.

Put the cake in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. This is best when it's still hot or warm. Enjoy it with a nice cup of coffee or tea.

p.s. I just reread the recipe, which actually has you spread half the batter in the pan, layer in the fruit, and then carefully cover the fruit with the other half of the batter and then the streusel. If you're a stickler, you could do that, but I liked my way just fine.

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