Fresh Fruit Kuchen

Sunday May 8, 2016

A simple name, almost deceivingly so, for a fabulous coffee cake with a rich history.  When I started baking, my favorite coffee cake was the Peach Cake Cockaigne in the Joy of Cooking.  I could never get over the Cockaigne in the title; at the time I thought it some area in France since the writers of the cookbook used it in quite a few recipe headings.  Cockaigne ends up being the imaginary land of plenty, a place of luxury and ease, and obviously many culinary delights.  The recipe ingredients and method itself is a classic kuchen, a coffee cake you would be likely to find made in homes in Germany, Austria, Hungary, and old Czechoslovakia.  While the most famous of which is made with Italian purple plum halves, which sink into the batter as it bakes, you can use other fruits such as peaches, and combinations of fruits such as apple slivers and whole grapes or blueberries, or apricots and canned or fresh cherries.  So simple, yet so delectable.

Makes one 15 1/2- by-10-1/2-inch or 9-by-13-inch cake, serving 12 to 15

Ingredients

2 pounds Italian purple plums, or fresh apricots, halved and pitted, or 3 1/2                  pounds very ripe, but firm and good-flavored fresh peaches

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour (Softasilk)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 large egg

1/2 cup light olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons organic granulated sugar or raw turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Instructions

1.  Preheat the oven to 350º.  Butter the sides and bottom of a 15 1/2- by-10-1/2-inch jelly roll pan (it must have the 1-inch sides) or 9-by-13-inch ceramic or glass baking dish, then spray with butter-flavored vegetable cooking spray.  If you are using plums or apricots, they won’t have to be peeled.  If you use peaches, blanch them in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds.  With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water.  Place each peach on a layer of paper towel and slip off the skin with your fingers or a paring knife.  Halve and pit the peaches.  Cut into thick slices into a large bowl.  You will have about 7 cups of fruit.

2.  In a mixing bowl with a large whisk, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center and add the milk, egg, oil, and vanilla.  Beat hard until the batter has a rather stiff, smooth consistency, about 30 seconds.

3.  With a large rubber spatula, scrape the batter onto the prepared pan.  With floured fingers, press the batter into the pan in an even layer.  Arrange the fruit in neat, even rows across and down the batter, as close together as possible, to completely cover the batter, but leaving a 1-inch rim of exposed batter around the edges.  If you use two kinds of fruit, alternate the rows; if using three types, alternate sections.  Combine the sugar and spices in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the fruit.  Drizzle with the lemon juice by spoonfuls.  Lay a piece of parchment paper loosely over the top, securing the four corners with wooden toothpicks if necessary (this helps cook the fruit more thoroughly rather than having it brown).

4.  Bake the cake on the center rack of the preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sides of the cake are golden brown, and the fruit is cooked and bubbly.  Place the pan on a rack, remove the parchment paper, to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.  Serve in squares cut from the pan, warm or at room temperature, dusted with the confectioner’s sugar.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.


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