Sometimes I like to make something special for Saturday mornings. To me, nothing says nostalgia like the smell of coffee, bacon, and some sort of baked goodness permeating the house. Though cinnamon rolls and coffee cake are always a wise choice, I was recently inspired to make apple kuchen. If you’ve not had kuchen before, it is a German yeasted coffee cake that’s often topped with fruit and served either for breakfast or dessert.
Simply put, this apple kuchen was just lovely. The wonderful aroma of sweet yeasted dough, spiced apples, and toasted almonds was nothing short of cozy and inviting.
This particular recipe is an adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s own Apple Kuchen, which can be found in How to be a Domestic Goddess. Though the ingredients are largely the same, I’ve tweaked the method a bit.
For the dough:
3 – 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar plus 1 teaspoon for proofing the yeast
½ cup warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
grated zest of ½ a lemon
grating of fresh nutmeg
½ cup milk, warm
¼ cup butter, softened
For the topping:
2 tasty apples (I loved using Jazz apples for this)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cream
grating of fresh nutmeg
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
For the creamy glaze:
1 tablespoon melted butter
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Combine 3 cups of the flour, the salt, and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Set aside until nice and foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, nutmeg, and warm milk. Once your yeast is foamy, pour the egg mixture, yeast mixture, and melted butter into the bowl of your electric mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined, then switch to the dough hook and begin to knead on medium speed. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup flour as needed, though bear in mind this is a soft dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 or so minutes in the electric mixer.
Lightly oil a large bowl, dump in your kneaded dough, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and then let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour to an hour and a half). Or, if you’re prepping this dough the night before, place in the fridge overnight. The next morning, you’ll want to pull the dough out and let it come back to room temperature before proceeding. I usually wander down to the kitchen with one eye open a couple hours ahead of breakfast to pull the dough out and then stumble back into bed to catch a few more winks, but that’s just me.
When your dough is risen and glorious, punch it down and begin to stretch and press it into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish spritzed with cooking spray. Cover and allow to rise in warm place until puffed, about 15-20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get on with making the topping. Peel, core, and chop the apples finely; you could do the chopping in a food processor, if you think it would save you some time and hassle. Transfer to a small bowl and then toss with the teaspoon of lemon juice, brown sugar, sugar, and allspice; set aside. Then, in a small bowl, beat together your egg, cream, grating of nutmeg, and pinch of salt.
When your dough is ready, brush the surface with your beaten egg mixture then top with the spiced apples. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds and pop the kuchen in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until lightly golden brown at the edges and cooked within.
Remove from the oven and while it cools for a few minutes, whisk together your glaze ingredients. Drizzle the glaze over your kuchen, slice and enjoy warm!
Nutrition information per serving (1/12 of recipe): 240 calories, 7 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 38 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein