I don’t know Carole Walter, but I love Carole Walter. She is a woman after my own heart. She is an incredibly accomplished baker, teacher and cookbook author and judging from her author photo, a very sweet lady. But the books are what I want to talk to you about today. Specifically, Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More, her encyclopedia-like cookbook dedicated to these pastries. An entire cookbook about coffee cake, people! You know how I feel about coffee cake! Walter’s books are wonderful resources for anyone interested in baking and I encourage you all to seek out her recipes.
This Sour Cherry Kuchen is a good example of her brilliance. A sweet yeasted crust is filled with pastry cream and sour cherries and then topped with a crunchy streusel. Seriously. If you enjoy this blog and think we have similar taste in sweets, you need to find a copy of this book and start baking. Or simply start here, with this cake, because it doesn’t get much better than this.
This beaut takes some doing. But don’t let the long list of instruction below turn you off, each step is simple and works well, but you do need to devote some time to pulling it all together. Keep in mind that the dough needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight. I found the Morello cherries called for in the recipe at Trader Joe’s. You’ll notice that the kuchen only uses half of the dough. I’ll have some ideas for what to do with the other half of the dough shortly.
Sour Cherry Kuchen (by Carole Walter)
- 1/2 recipe Simple Sweet Dough (see below)
- 1 recipe Simple Streusel (see below)
- 1 (24-oz) jar pitted dark Morello cherries in light syrup (about 2 1/2 cups), well drained, juice reserved
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Remove the dough from the refrigerator 1 to 1 1/2 hours before shaping.
In a medium saucepan, combine 2/3 cup of the reserved cherry juice, the cornstarch, and sugar, stirring until no lumps remain. place the pan over medium-low heat. Allow the liquid to come to a boil, stirring gently until the mixture is very thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, almond extract, and butter. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the drained cherries. Set aside until ready to use.
Place the cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the milk and mix until smooth. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the egg yolks. Set aside.
In a two-quart saucepan, heat the remaining 3/4 cup milk and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir until blended. On low heat, bring the mixture to a slow boil. Stir one-third of the hot milk/sugar mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and stir with a whisk to combine. Return the pan to medium-low and bring it to a full boil, whisking rapidly and constantly until pastry cream is thick and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the softened butter and vanilla. Do not overmix. Cover the pastry cream with buttered plastic wrap and set aside until ready to use.
Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough a few times and shape it into a flat disk. With lightly floured hands, press the dough into the prepared pan, stretching it to completely cover the bottom. Push the dough up against the sides of the pan, forcing it up to form a wall 1/4-inch thick and 3/4-inch high. Be sure to press it well into the crease of the pan. If the dough becomes too elastic, let it rest for a few minutes. Prick the surface of the dough ten to twelve times with a fork. Cover the pan with a tea towel and set in a warmish place to rise until puffy but not doubled, 25 to 30 minutes. While the dough is rising, prepare the streusel.
Fifteen minutes before baking, position the rack in teh lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F. Redefine the lip of the dough with your thumb and gently depress the center with your hand.
Leaving a 3/4-inch rim of dough exposed, drop dollops of the tepid pastry cream around the edges of the pan, Using an offset spatula, bring the pastry cream into the center, smoothing the surface, as best you can.
Top the pastry cream with the cherry filling in one layer. Sprinkle the streusel over the cherries, pressing it gently into the surface. Place the pan on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and wrap the pan with the foil to catch any spills.
Bake the kuchen for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it begins to release from the side of the pan and the streusel is golden brown.
Remove the kuchen from the oven and let it stand on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Release and remove the sides of the pans and allow to cool completely.
Store in the fridge, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving in a 325°F oven for 2-25 minutes, or until slightly warm.
Simple Sweet Dough (by Carole Walter)
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water (110°-115°F)
- 1 package dry active yeast
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, plus 1 teaspoon soft butter for brushing top of dough
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Rinse a small bowl in hot water to warm it. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the warm water to the bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Do not stir. Cover the bowl with a saucer and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Stir it briefly with a fork, cover again, and let it stand for 2 to 3 minutes more, or until bubbly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on low speed the 3 cups of flour, remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, and the salt. Add the slightly firm cubed butter and continue to mix until meal-sized crumbs form, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on upon the temperature of the butter. Stop the mixer.
Using a fork, in a separate bowl, mix the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour, along with the dissolved yeast, and mix on low speed for about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix on low speed for another 30 seconds, or until a smooth dough is formed. this is a soft dough.
Lightly butter a medium bowl for storing the dough. Empty the dough into the prepared bowl, smoothing the top with lightly floured hands. Spread a thin layer of softened butter over the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Simple Streusel (by Carole Walter)
- 6 to 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Place the butter in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat until almost melted; remove from heat and cool to tepid.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter and stir with a fork until blended and mixture begins to form crumbs. Gently squeeze the mixture with your hand to form larger clumps, then break them apart with your fingers. Before using, let the streusel stand for 10 to 15 minutes.