It’s family tradition time!
And, you guys, this is not a recipe you want to skip over. Of all my family tradition recipes, küchen is probably my favorite. My grandma is 100% German, and this is one of her signature desserts. I can’t make it, eat it, or even think about it without being reminded of her. Though she lives on the opposite side of this vast state, I am blessed not only to still have a grandmother, but also to still have the privilege of seeing her every now and then. Before I go any further, I should probably explain what küchen is for those of you who are unfamiliar. Küchen is actually the German word for “cake,” but it also refers to a few specific German desserts. This küchen is a pie-like pastry with a puffy dough crust and a custard filling. It is often made with fruit (usually cherries or peach slices in my family), but it’s also good without! As you would expect of any German woman, Grandma RoseMary makes a mean küchen. When I was younger, she nearly always had some waiting for us when we came for a visit. I don’t know how most partake of it, but we even eat it as breakfast! You know, it has fruit (usually), so it counts. 😉
Now, one does not simply whip up a küchen. At least not in my family. No, my grandma’s recipe makes 18 küchen, and it is an all-afternoon project. It’s so worth the effort though! Before Rob and I were married, he even took a trip with me to visit my grandparents, and we all made küchen together. It was wonderful. For today’s recipe, I am deviating slightly from Grandma RoseMary’s original. First, I downsized the yield a bit because I don’t have seven children to feed like she did! And as marvelous as the original is, I couldn’t deny the pumpkin staring at me with those penetrating eyes. This is the season for pumpkin, and darn it, I’ll add it to everything I can! Don’t worry; I will share the original recipe at some point. Pinky promise.
You may be saying, “Ummm, hello, pumpkin season is over. This is gingerbread and egg nog season! Get with it!” You may be (partially) right, but I made this küchen two months ago and have had this recipe sitting in my drafts since then. It was initially supposed to be a special “blogiversary” recipe, but after that came and went, it was going to be a Thanksgiving recipe. I know, I’m tardy. Bloggy has just been neglected since I got a full time job, as my nights and weekends have been preoccupied with making dinner, housekeeping, wedding festivities, birthday celebrations, Christmas preparations, and the list goes on. Besides, I enjoy pumpkin year-round. Thanksgiving does not designate the end of pumpkin in my book! No no, pumpkin desserts are perfectly acceptable for Christmas, too. Anyway, sorry for the excuses; I truly appreciate you who stick around to read my posts, however far and few between they may be! Side note: Since my last post, I gave Milk & Cereal a tiny makeover. Do you like my new header? 🙂
Crust Ingredients: (Alternatively, you may use store-bought dough to make your crust. Grandma recommends Rhodes Sweet Dough; you’ll find it the frozen section, and one loaf can make 3 crusts.)
- 3/4 c. warm water
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 packet (1 1/8 tsp.) fast-rising yeast
- 3 Tbs. shortening
- 2 1/4 to 2 1/3 c. flour, plus more for dusting the countertop
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- dash of cloves
- dash of nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 c. cream
- 1 egg, beaten
- 5 Tbs. (1/4 c. + 1 Tbs.) granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
- 2 Tbs. flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3/4 c. pureed pumpkin
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
- scant 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- scant 1/8 tsp. cloves
- First, make the crust in a large bowl. Stir 1/4 c. sugar and the yeast into the warm water, and let it sit (or “proof”) for 30 minutes.
- Add the remaining dough ingredients to the yeast mixture. Use a pastry blender and your hands to combine the ingredients until a soft and sticky dough forms. Let the dough rise (in a warm place, for best results), then knead it down, and let it rise a second time. This process may take an hour or two.
- Use Crisco (not oil) to grease 4 or 5 pie tins, depending on their sizes. I usually use 8-inch tins.
- Divide the dough into 4 or 5 portions, and roll them our to fit your pie pans without extending over the edges. Place the rolled dough into the pans, and pull the crust up the sides about 1/2 to 3/4 inch.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover the crusts with a dish towel, and let them rise (preferably in a warm place). Once the crusts have risen, “walk out” the air bubbles with your fingers. Start in the center, and move toward the edges, getting all the air bubbles out.
- Pour in enough custard to just cover the bottom of the crust. You will want to fill them more, but don’t! They won’t bake properly if they’re overfilled.
- Sprinkle the tops generously with cinnamon and sugar (and a just touch of cloves and nutmeg, if you wish), and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until set. The centers should jiggle just slightly when shaken.
- Let the küchen cool and set for about ten minutes, and enjoy! Küchen is good at room temp or refrigerated.
Keep any uneaten küchen in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days or in the freezer for a few months. I always store them on a paper plate with a paper towel under the küchen in case of condensation, and inside a ziploc bag. You especially want to use a paper towel under the küchen if you’re freezing it so that the paper tower soaks up the moisture when it thaws.
Well, there it is, folks! If your kitchen still has pumpkin galore like mine does, get at this pumpkin küchen for the holidays! It just may become your family’s new favorite. 😀
Of course I can’t end this post without a little Christmas cheer.
As afore mentioned (in last year’s Christmas post on Melt Away Cookies), Christmas is my favorite holiday. Aside from too much focus on presents (which I may be guilty of at times– I love giving gifts!), there really isn’t anything I don’t like about Christmas. I look forward to the songs that start playing the day after Thanksgiving (“O Holy Night” is my favorite! What’s yours?), the beautiful lights that adorn the neighborhood, and the family gatherings. Most of all, I love celebrating the birth of our sweet Jesus. This year I started reading John Piper’s “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.” It’s an advent devotional that offers fresh revelation to some old truths, and it really reiterates the reason for the season. I’m going to start reading it every December, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes reading about why Christ came in the way that He did and what He came to do. 🙂
Lastly, I also can’t end this post without a little Petra The Dog.
The weather has been surprisingly mild so far this winter. Translation: We haven’t yet acquired feet upon feet of snow, and the temperature hasn’t even dropped too far below 0°F. Last winter was brutal, with the majority of days being well below zero (even down to 50 and 60 below with wind chill), so this has been quite enjoyable. Last weekend we were graced with an alluring fog, and Petra and I enjoyed a brilliant nature walk among it while Rob cozied up indoors with some video games. 😉 I will say though, I do hope we get a nice dusting of snow for a white Christmas!
Cheers to you all! May your Christmas be merry! I wish you an abundance of peace, love, and joy this holiday season and in the year ahead.
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