Sunday, July 1, 2012

Peachy Keen Kuchen

Growing up in Texas, it's kind of a given that I'd be a fan of peaches.  I can remember family road trips out to Texas Hill Country each summer for our church's annual 4th of July retreat.  My parents would always stop and pick up some peaches from one of the many roadside stands.  My dad would slice up the fruit and hand it out as we continued on our way.  They were always juicy and delicious, but I have to admit, I didn't get what the big deal was.  It wasn't until I moved away that I realized just how good I had it.

California has some great things going for it, but I've yet to find a fruit that rivals those roadside Fredericksburg Peaches.  Luckily, with a farmer's market close by and peach season in full swing, I can get a little closer - at least, close enough to satisfy my 4th of July craving.

I wanted to do something a little different with these peaches, instead of the usual cobbler or pie.  When searching for other peach possibilities, I came across the kuchen.  I didn't know what the heck a kuchen was, but after a little research, it appears to be the German word for cake.  And, much like the English word for cake, it covers a pretty wide variety of sweet treats.  The variation that most caught my attention, though, was a sort of Pie/Cake hybrid.  A thick, cake-y crust topped with fruit and a bit of custard, baked in a springform pan.  It seemed too good not to try out.

The verdict?  This is a delicious, lightly sweet dessert, especially perfect right out of the oven.  The moisture in the peach & custard topping works great with the dense cake.  Be sure to serve it warm, maybe with some whipped cream or ice cream on the side.

Peachy Keen Kuchen (adapted from all you)

The batter:
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour (I used 3/4 cup AP, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

The topping:
2 large fresh peaches, skinned and pitted*
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch springform pan. In a bowl, whisk together sugar, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, milk and vanilla and whisk until blended. Add flour and melted butter and stir with a rubber spatula just until smooth. Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

For the topping: Slice peaches and pat dry. Arrange peaches in an even layer on top of batter. In a cup, stir together sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle mixture onto peaches.

Bake cake until springy to touch, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, beat egg yolk and cream with a fork. Drizzle mixture onto cake and bake until center is cooked through, 10 minutes longer. Let cake cool for 10 minutes on a rack. Remove springform. Serve warm.

*To skin ripe peaches easily, score the bottom of the peaches and drop into very hot (nearly boiling) water for about 30 second, then dunk into an ice bath.  Skins should peel right off.

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