By Nancy Olah
Before the luscious peaches and plums are gone for the season, I hope you will try my Plum and Peach Kuchen.
I don’t normally publish dessert recipes, but this was low in sugar, high in flavor, and so darn easy to make that I decided to depart from my normal format.
I was blessed recently with some organic plums from Absolute Organics, and decided to put them to good use. Since peaches are another stone fruit we dearly love, the two seemed like a marriage made in heaven.
Since my guys sometimes accuse me of making way too many fruit crisps and cobblers, I decided to do something a little different. Inspired by a recipe from Local Flavors, a well-loved cookbook by one of my friends and culinary heroes, Deborah Madison, I made a kuchen that used all organic ingredients, cut the sugar, and tweaked Deborah’s recipe with delicious results.
What’s a kuchen you might ask? It’s a German term that basically means “cake” – but it’s a lot less cake-like than those airy, sugary-sweet treats we normally make for birthdays or celebrations. This is more of a plain, unadorned dessert, with a slightly chewy crust, that is rich with fruit and perfect for enjoying with a cup of hot tea or coffee after dinner.
It took me and our son Nick less than 20 minutes working together to prepare the fruit and make the batter – great teamwork! I dug out an old earthenware quiche dish that I bought many, many moons ago at a craft fair in Cleveland that I thought would look rustic and work well, and was rewarded with a dessert 45 minutes later that was enjoyed by all who sampled it – vegetarians and carnivores alike!
- 1¼ cup organic unbleached white flour (King Arthur)
- ⅓ cup organic cane sugar (I usually use Florida Crystals)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted organic butter (Horizon or Organic Valley), chilled
- 1 free range egg plus 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup organic 2% milk (approximately - see recipe below)
- ½ teaspoon organic almond extract (Simply Organics)
- ½ teaspoon organic vanilla extract (Earth Fare)
- Grated zest from one organic orange
- 8-10 organic plums, pitted and quartered
- 2-3 organic peaches, pitted and sliced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon organic cinnamon (Earth Fare)
- ⅛ teaspoon organic nutmeg (Earth Fare)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly butter a quiche dish, pie pan, or gratin pan - your choice! I just think that something round or oval will be prettier than using a rectangular Pyrex baking dish, but that is certainly possible too.
- Make your batter in the food processor by combining the flour, sugar, and sea salt. Cut the cold butter lengthwise into quarters, and then chop into small pieces. Add the butter to the flour/sugar mixture in short pulses to incorporate and make fine crumbs.
- Put the egg and egg yolk into a one cup liquid measure, and beat lightly with a fork. Add enough milk to make ½ cup of total liquid. Mix in the almond extract, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
- Add the liquid mixture to your flour/sugar/butter mixture and make a thick dough. It will be a little sticky, but if it is too sticky to work with, add another tablespoon or two of flour.
- Put a little flour on your hands, and take the dough out of the food processor. Pat the dough into the baking dish you've chosen and build up the edges just a bit to create a rim.
- Place your fruit on top of the dough in whatever decorative pattern pleases you. Just make sure they are packed in nice and tight!
- Add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the melted butter, and brush it on top of your lovely fruit.
- Bake for about 45 minutes until the crust is golden and the fruit is soft. It will smell heavenly when you take it out of the oven, but restrain yourself from cutting into it immediately. Let it cool for about 10 minutes or so, and then dish it up and be prepared for compliments from your surprised family that something this simple can taste so good.
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