Last week, I bought a bag of apples at the grocery store–My favorite kind (Jonathan) were on sale. I knew I was going to make something or other with the bulk of them…I love apples in just about every form, except whole. I know. It’s weird. I’ll slice and eat them, but I won’t just grab one and start munching away. But I love apples in savory dishes, in sweets, as applesauce…And especially as apple cake. Or in this case, Apfel Kuchen.
When I was younger, my folks used to say we were basically 3/4 German and 1/4 French ancestry, with a smidge of Dutch thrown in. Fast forward about 25 years, and the further back I’ve gone with our family tree, I’ve since discovered it’s more like 1/4 English, 1/4 Dutch, 1/4 German and 1/4 French, with a hint of Irish and the possibility of some Native American thrown in. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing, other than I’m trying a German dessert, for the heck of it.
So, the Apfel Kuchen…Also random aside, Kuchen happens to be the South Dakota State Dessert. Which, given how much the Norwegians (my husband’s family included) around here go bonkers for things like lutefisk and lefse (Lefse’s actually pretty good…I wouldn’t touch lutefisk with a 10-foot-pole for all the money in Mitt Romney’s offshore accounts) is a little surprising to me. I didn’t realize there’s a rather large pocket of folks with German ancestry in the central portion of the state. But there are as many kuchen recipes apparently as there are Oles and Lenas ’round here…But could I find one that I absolutely HAD to make? No. Well, obviously I did, but it took me a few days.
The hard part is/was narrowing everything down. Kuchen is the German word for cake, and can be used to describe a staggering number of desserts. And though my maternal grandparents were fiercely proud of their German heritage, I can’t recall any instance of my grandma making anything close to an Apfel Kuchen when I was a kid. So after a few days of searching, I finally came across a recipe from Jenni, at Pastry Chef Online.
It is time-consuming, but well worth the effort. We popped over to Jay’s folks’ for lunch on Sunday, and after we got home, I got to work. I figured that with Jenni being a pastry chef and all, she most likely weighed her ingredients. I point this out because I usually don’t do that with baking, unless it’s something that’s a little fussy, like my failed macarons. Or, in this case, a recipe from someone who’s an actual chef and used to using more precise measurements. So I dug out the kitchen scale. And because I wasn’t paying as close of attention to my butter and milk, I had to wait for it to cool off some before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. Still, even though it sounds rather complex with the yeast dough and the cheesecake layer, it’s actually a lot less labor-intensive than you’d expect.
But still, it’s worth it. It’s a delicious autumnal dessert…Way better than apple pie (which no, I don’t really like…I know. It’s weird, like me and whole apples).
I admit, I probably let this cook a little longer than necessary, but I wanted to make sure it was done. Not that I don’t like a gooey center, but I didn’t want the middle of the cake to collapse. But I don’t think there was much danger in that! No, the danger is going to be in it not lasting too long. Jay’s already had 2 pieces, the bambino’s eaten one, and I’ve had one. I should probably lower the servings to 8!