Community, Recipes

Kuchen- a Russian German Dessert

About the time of the American Revolution, Germans were offered a bit of freedom if they emigrated to Ukraine and Russia – free land, freedom from taxation, exemption from the draft and freedom of religion.  Of course that sort of a deal couldn’t last – so about a century later, facing taxation and the draft, the descendants of those Russian Germans moved again, mostly to the Great Plains of the US and Canada.  For years, the Census differentiated between Germans and Russian Germans.

They brought Kuchen to the prairies, and it is South Dakota’s official state dessert.  (While Norwegians also settled the prairies, nowhere is lutefisk an official state dessert)  So here is a recipe for those who want to make Kuchen, just like the Russian Germans do.

Bread Base:

  • 1 ½ c. milk, scalded
  • 1 ½ c. shortening
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp. Salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ⅓ c. warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 5 c. flour

Blend together the milk, shortening, ¾ c. sugar and salt.  Let cool.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Blend the warm water, dry yeast and 1 tsp. sugar.   Add the yeast mixture to the first mixture.  Add the flour.  Beat well with a spoon.  Dough will be very soft.  Let rise.  Stir down and shape, or place in the refrigerator overnight.  Take out in the morning and pinch off small sections, one for each Kuchen (this recipe makes 10 or 11 9” Kuchen

Roll out dough as you would pie dough, not quite ¼ inch thick.  Put in greased pan without stretching dough.  Pinch down against the inside of pan.  Do not let the dough rise before filling; spread a layer of fruit or cottage cheese immediately on the bread base.  Then top with a custard appropriate to the kind of Kuchen you are making – one custard recipe is 2 c. sugar, 4 Tbsp. flour, 4 eggs, a pinch of salt and 4 c. milk.  Cook until thick, stirring all the time.  Let cool, stir in 2 c. cream.  Pour over fruit.

Sprinkle Kuchen with a crumb mixture of 2 Tbsp flour, ¼ c. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. butter and cinnamon to taste.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, then at 325 degrees for 20 minutes until filling is almost set.  Remove from oven, let set until filling becomes firm.  Slide the Kuchen from the pan onto plates.

Recipe from Sei Unser Gast – which probably means something in German or Russian.