Kuchen (the German word for cake) is a treat that I enjoyed as a little girl visiting my paternal grandparents in Iowa. My great aunt Carrie made a wonderful German Streusel Kuchen that I still remember, nearly 30 years after she passed away. I would describe it as a rich sweet bread with a buttery crumb topping. Other Kuchen recipes have fruit on top such as plums, peaches or apples.
I’ve tried to duplicate our family kuchen recipe many times over the years. Unfortunately, the hand-written recipe scrawled out many years ago had ingredients listed, but not exact measurements. Aunt Carrie relied on “a pinch of this” or a “little bit of that” – which works you’re an experienced baker, but it can be hard for others to duplicate.
The kuchen recipe below comes pretty close to the original. At the very least, it drew a “This is pretty good stuff!” reaction from my son.
German Streusel Kuchen Recipe
1/2 C. warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 pkg. yeast
2/3 C. sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 C. milk, scalded and allowed to cool
3-4 C. flour
In a small bowl, combine warm water, sugar and yeast. Set aside. In a big mixing bowl, combine the sugar, butter, eggs, and scalded (cooled) milk. Add the yeast mixture. Gradually, add the flour, cup by cup. I start with three cups of flour, adding the last cup until the dough is just pliable enough to work with (the dough will be somewhat sticky). Knead for about 10 minutes, then allow to rise in a warm place until doubled.
Place your kuchen dough in a 9×9 glass pan or a bundt pan. Punch dough down again and allow to rise a second time. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
How to Get Dough to Rise
An easy trick is to place the dough on a heating pad. Works like a charm!
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. butter, softened but not melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
After it has risen a second time and is ready to bake, top your kuchen dough with the streusel topping mixture above. Place the kuchen in the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with melted butter. Serve right away.