Nourishing the Writer's Soul - Nana's peach Kuchen
I recently hosted a 'writing day' up in our shed for a group of friends and wanted to make something special for morning coffee - just to keep our energy levels up! It's the end of summer here in Australian and our peach tree is loaded with fruit so I decided to make my Nana's fabulous peach kuchen. (She made this with apples and plums as well but the peach version was always my favorite.)
My Nana never wrote down her recipes. She was one of those inspired cooks who went by instinct, measuring things in 'handfuls' and 'pinches'. So I was lucky to be in her tiny New York kitchen one day (many years ago now) when she happened to be making this dish and I could record what she did.
The kuchen base is a very eggy, very buttery yeasted dough over which you put slices of jewel-like fruit. When Nana made it she then dotted the fruit with butter and sprinkled it with sugar and cinnamon. I never had the patience for the whole dotting-with-butter thing so I use a sweet crumb topping instead. Either way it's delicious!
For the dough:
2 eggs, beaten 1 tablespoon dry yeast
1/4 cup warm milk 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup warm water 1/3 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar 2 1/4 cups flour (approximate)
Combine the milk, water and yeast and allow to sit until it starts to foam a little. Add the remaining ingredients and knead the dough until 'earlobe consistency'. Let rise until doubled in size; punch it down and let rise again.
Roll the dough out to fit a standard cookie tray. Line the dough with rows of thinly sliced fruit - peaches, plums, apples or pears. Dot with butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon or use the sweet crumb topping below.
120g butter, softened 1 1/2 cup flour
1 scant cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Bake the kuchen for 25 mins at 350 degrees F (190C)
A lot of fabulous meals came out of my Nana's tiny kitchen - a room barely big enough to hold two people. Her creamed spinach is another heirloom recipe I treasure and make every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'll share it and others in future posts.