Bavarian Apple Kuchen
Makes 8 servings
While driving across southern Germany on our way to Munich, we stopped in Stuttgart for a museum fix. It was late afternoon when we emerged back into the October sunlight, and we were hungry. Tables at a nearby outdoor café were occupied by patrons eating all manner of pastries and desserts, but what caught our eye was a deep-dish apple kuchen. One bite and we knew we were onto something special. The pastry was cookie-like and the filling tender chunks of lemon-scented apple. A mixture of firm apples like sweet Fujis and tart Granny Smiths works very well. Northern Spy or Cox's Orange Pippin are wonderful. You will need a 9 by 2-inch-deep tart pan with a scalloped edge and removable bottom.
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter,
cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
2 cups (9 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
(spooned into the cup and leveled)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3-1/2 pounds apples, quartered, cored, peeled,
and cut into i-inch chunks (about 10 cups)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
1. To make the pastry in a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla in the mixer bowl and beat on the lowest speed only until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and beat until the butter is in smallish pieces, about 1 minute. Add the flour and beat on lowest speed until it is incorporated and the dough cleans the side of the bowl, about 1 minute. The dough should be malleable and not at all sticky. You will notice visible pieces of butter in the dough.
If not using a mixer, combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and mix with a fork. Add the pieces of butter and mash them into the yolk mixture with the fork until the pieces are on the small side (about 1/4 inch). Gradually add the flour, mixing and tossing with the fork. Continue Stirring until the dough gathers into a ball and cleans the side of the bowl.
2. Transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface, shape it into a log about 12 inches long, and position it with a short end of the log facing you. Working rapidly, use the heel of your hand to smear golf ball-sized pieces of dough from the far end of the log away from you. Continue until all the dough has been used. Gather the dough together, reshape into a log, and repeat this process once more. This entire procedure should take no more than 30 seconds. The butter should be thoroughly blended into the dough, but if you still see a few bits of butter here and there, it's all right. Divide the dough into two pieces, one twice as large as the other. (If you have a scale, the pieces should weigh 14 ounces and 7 ounces.) Shape each piece into a disk, wrap securely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the apples and mix well. Cover the pan and cook until the apples begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes.
4. Uncover the pan, increase the heat to medium, and continue cooking, stirring frequently with a heat-proof rubber spatula, until the apples are just tender when pierced with a toothpick, about 10 minutes more. Turn the apples into a wire strainer set over a bowl and let stand until cool. Reserve the apple juices.
5. Adjust an oven rack to the center position and place a heavy baking sheet on the rack. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
6. Roll the larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch circle. Coat a 9 by 2-inch tart pan with vegetable cooking spray. Fit the pastry into the tart pan, being careful to avoid stretching the dough. Leave the overhanging pastry alone for now. Roll out the smaller piece of dough to a 10-inch circle.
7. Whisk the cornstarch into the cooled apple juices. Add the apples and lemon zest and fold together gently to avoid breaking the apple pieces. Turn the apple mixture into the tart pan and pat it gently to level it; the pan will be full. Brush the edge of the pastry lightly with water and set the circle of dough on top. Press firmly on the edges to seal, then roll the rolling pin over the top to cut away the excess pastry. (Use the pastry scraps to make sugar cookies.)
8. Prick the top of the pastry in several places with a fork and place the tart pan on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about I hour, until the pastry is golden brown. Cool the kuchen in its pan on a rack.
9. When the kuchen is completely cool, carefully remove it from the tart pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
Buy the Book!
A Is For Apple
More than 200 Recipes for Eating,
Munching, and Cooking with America's Favorite Fruit
By Greg Patent and Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Broadway Books, June 1999
Trade Paperback, 288 pages, $15.00
Recipe Reprinted by permission.
A Is For Apple
This page created September 1999