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Apple and Blackberry Kuchen

by . Featured in NIGELLA BITES
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Introduction

Kuchen may be simply "cake" in German, but what it means in America, taken there by German refugees, is a sweet, but not too sweet, yeasted dough, baked in a slab and topped as desired with fruit, nuts, or both or neither - to be eaten at breakfast or any time with a cup of coffee.

If making yeast dough at breakfast time seems unfathomably demanding, relax in the knowledge that you can make this before you go to bed in the evening, leaving it to rise slowly in the fridge overnight. That way, all you need to do in the morning is preheat the oven, take the dough out of the fridge, let it get to room temperature, then knock it back and press it out over the tin, following on from there.

Kuchen may be simply "cake" in German, but what it means in America, taken there by German refugees, is a sweet, but not too sweet, yeasted dough, baked in a slab and topped as desired with fruit, nuts, or both or neither - to be eaten at breakfast or any time with a cup of coffee.

If making yeast dough at breakfast time seems unfathomably demanding, relax in the knowledge that you can make this before you go to bed in the evening, leaving it to rise slowly in the fridge overnight. That way, all you need to do in the morning is preheat the oven, take the dough out of the fridge, let it get to room temperature, then knock it back and press it out over the tin, following on from there.

Apple and Blackberry Kuchen
Photo by Francesca Yorke

Ingredients

Serves: 8

Metric Cups

For the Cake Base:

  • approx. 400 grams strong white bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • half a 7 grams packet of easy-blend yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 125 millilitres lukewarm milk
  • 50 grams butter (softened)

For the Topping:

  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 small cooking apple (approx 175g / 6oz)
  • 375 grams blackberries
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 50 grams self-raising flour
  • 25 grams ground almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 50 grams cold unsalted butter (diced)
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 25 grams flaked almonds

For the Cake Base:

  • 2⅔ cups strong white bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup superfine sugar
  • ¼ ounce packet of instant yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup lukewarm milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter (softened)

For the Topping:

  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 small apple (approx 175g / 6oz)
  • 3 cups blackberries
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ⅓ cup self-raising flour
  • 3 tablespoons almond meal
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (diced)
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds

Method

  1. Put 350g / 2 1/3 cups of the flour in a bowl with the salt, sugar and easy-blend yeast. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add them, with the vanilla extract, lemon zest and cinnamon, to the lukewarm milk. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a medium-soft dough, being prepared to add more flour as necessary. I generally use about 400g / 2 2/3 cups in all, but advise you to start off with the smaller amount: just add more as needed. Work in the soft butter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes or half that time by machine. When the dough is ready it will appear smoother and springier. It suddenly seems to plump up into glossy life.
  2. Cover with a tea towel and leave till doubled in size (an hour to an hour and a quarter). Or leave to rise slowly in a cold place overnight. Then punch down and press to line a Swiss-roll tin measuring 30 x 20cm / 12 x 8 inches. You may think it's never going to stretch to fill, but it will, although you may need to let it rest for 10 minutes or so mid-stretch, especially if the dough has had a cold rise. When it's pressed out on the tin, leave it to prove for 15-20 minutes. Then take the egg, and beat in the tablespoon of cream and the pinch of ground cinnamon, and then brush the dough with this mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400ºF. Peel and chop the cooking apple and toss it in a bowl with the blackberries and the zest from the other half lemon. Set aside in the bowl for the few minutes it takes to make the crumble topping. Put the flour, ground almonds and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl, stir to combine, then add the cold, diced butter. Using the tips of your fingers - index and middle stroking the fleshy pads of your thumbs - rub it into the flour. Stop when you have a mixture that resembles clumpy (this is a very buttery mixture) porridge oats. Fork in the sugars and flaked almonds.
  4. Tumble the fruit over the egg-washed dough and then sprinkle the crumble on top of that. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn down to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF and cook for a further 20 minutes or so, until the dough is swelling and golden at its billowing edges and the crumble is set; don't expect it to be crunchy.
  5. Remove from the oven and, if you can, wait five minutes or so before cutting it into greed-satisfying slabs.
  1. Put 350g / 2 1/3 cups of the flour in a bowl with the salt, sugar and instant yeast. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add them, with the vanilla extract, lemon zest and cinnamon, to the lukewarm milk. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a medium-soft dough, being prepared to add more flour as necessary. I generally use about 400g / 2 2/3 cups in all, but advise you to start off with the smaller amount: just add more as needed. Work in the soft butter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes or half that time by machine. When the dough is ready it will appear smoother and springier. It suddenly seems to plump up into glossy life.
  2. Cover with a tea towel and leave till doubled in size (an hour to an hour and a quarter). Or leave to rise slowly in a cold place overnight. Then punch down and press to line a Swiss-roll tin measuring 30 x 20cm / 12 x 8 inches. You may think it's never going to stretch to fill, but it will, although you may need to let it rest for 10 minutes or so mid-stretch, especially if the dough has had a cold rise. When it's pressed out on the tin, leave it to prove for 15-20 minutes. Then take the egg, and beat in the tablespoon of cream and the pinch of ground cinnamon, and then brush the dough with this mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400ºF. Peel and chop the apple and toss it in a bowl with the blackberries and the zest from the other half lemon. Set aside in the bowl for the few minutes it takes to make the crumble topping. Put the flour, almond meal and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl, stir to combine, then add the cold, diced butter. Using the tips of your fingers - index and middle stroking the fleshy pads of your thumbs - rub it into the flour. Stop when you have a mixture that resembles clumpy (this is a very buttery mixture) porridge oats. Fork in the sugars and slivered almonds.
  4. Tumble the fruit over the egg-washed dough and then sprinkle the crumble on top of that. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn down to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF and cook for a further 20 minutes or so, until the dough is swelling and golden at its billowing edges and the crumble is set; don't expect it to be crunchy.
  5. Remove from the oven and, if you can, wait five minutes or so before cutting it into greed-satisfying slabs.

Tell us what you think

What 3 Others have said

  • This is so delicious. I really am not a breakfast person but love love love this. I experiment with different fruits but have never had this cake around very long. Yum.

    Posted by weregypsies on 8th April 2014
  • I made the German Plum Tart from How to be a Domestic Goddess, a very similar recipe. You don't have to make it for your immediate breakfast that day, it will still be the best breakfast you've ever had if you just microwave a portion when you wake up. Eat in bed for a most desirable effect.

    Posted by manonlescaut on 2nd April 2012
  • This recipe looks delicious. I can't wait to make it. I love the idea of raising the dough in the fridge overnight. I wonder if that would work with our bulka dough here in Sydney? We've been making them all week!

    Posted by foodiespy99 on 9th August 2011
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