Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Plum and Cardamom Kuchen

The term 'kuchen' in German covers a wide range of baked sweet goods. In this instance its a sweetish, butter-enriched yeasted dough topped with fruit and baked, ideal for breakfast or brunch with a cup of tea. The addition of cardamom was inspired by the use of it in various Scandinavian pastries. It's quite an easy recipe to make your own, different fruits and flavourings can be used, nuts or seeds are a lovely addition, as is a crumble topping sprinkled on top of the fruit before baking.

For the dough:

400g strong white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
50g caster sugar
1/2 packet easy-blend yeast (about 3g)
2 eggs
Grated zest of an orange
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
125ml lukewarm milk
50g butter, softened

For the topping:
1 egg
1 tbsp cream or Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
seeds from 3 cardamom pods, crushed
6 plums
1 tbsp demerara sugar

To glaze:
2 tbsp icing sugar
orange juice (from the zested orange)

Put the flour in a bowl with the salt, sugar and easy-blend yeast. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add them, with the orange zest and cinnamon, to the lukewarm milk. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a medium-soft dough, being prepared to add more flour as necessary. Work in the softened butter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes or half that time by machine. When the dough is ready it will appear smoother and springier.
Cover with a tea towel and leave till doubled in size, about an hour. Then punch down and press to line a Swiss-roll or baking tray tin measuring 30 x 20 cm. When it's pressed out on the tin, leave it to prove for 15-20 minutes then brush with the egg and cream mixture.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Cut the plums in half and slice. Arrange the fruit over the egg-washed dough and then sprinkle the demerara sugar on top. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn down to 180°C/gas mark 4 and cook for a further 20 minutes or so, until the dough is swelling and golden.
Mix the icing sugar with enough orange juice to make a thin glaze, and once you have taken the kuchen out of the oven, drizzle it on top. Try to leave for 5 minutes before eating.

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