Whaddya know, kuchen dough?

By Sharon Kebschull Barrett
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Kuchen dough, do you know you make a great doughnut? And a beautiful braid? And mincemeat-filled squares? And tiny jam tarts? And hot cross buns? And coffeecake? And pecan caramel rolls? And almond butterhorns? Kuchen dough–whoa!

I started a part-time job in January, and I’ve been playing catch-up with my life ever since. Finally, this weekend, I got to make something just for the fun of it–not because I was working on recipes for an article, or testing for a book review, or finishing my book proposal. And on a rainy Friday night and a cool Saturday morning, doughnuts were just what I wanted to treat my family.

I’ve experimented quite a lot with cake (no-yeast) doughnuts in an attempt to re-create what my grandmother used to make, but I generally prefer yeast doughnuts–though they do require planning ahead. And late on a Friday night, I don’t want my dough to go slow.

So kuchen it is; a sweet, or rich, or not–depending on your preference–German dough that is so much like what my grandmother used for butterhorns and stollen (though not, as best we know, for doughnuts). Kuchen just means coffee cake, and it can be a yeasted dough or a quick, buttery tart dough, like my mother makes for her perfect plum kuchen.

On Friday, I quickly mixed up a batch of dough with 8 cups of flour and chilled it overnight. That’s a lot of flour–and would have made enough doughnuts to feed the neighborhood–but it’s such a good, easy recipe that I knew I could use some for doughnuts, fill a few squares with mincemeat I canned last year, and braid the rest for a sweet ring ready to slather with butter and jam (plus leftover slices for French toast).

Saturday morning, 7:30: I rolled out a portion of the dough, cut it into 32 hearts, and dropped them, about eight at a time, into my cast-iron pan half-filled with oil. They’re tasty just rolled in sugar or cinnamon-sugar right after frying, but I also filled some with raspberry jam and others with chocolate ganache I’d made quickly on Friday night. (Tasty, though a smart cook would wait til the doughnuts were just a tad cooler before filling with chocolate–that was some messy eating!)

From there, I rolled three ropes of dough about 20 inches long, braided them, and pinched the ends into a ring. What dough was left got made into a few mincemeat squares. All tasty–and the braided ring rose far more than I expected when it hit the oven’s heat, so we’ll be having French toast several days this week!

Next I’m going to work on perfecting a sweet cheese-filled kuchen (like a big cheese Danish). What else would you do with this dough?

Recipe: Sweet Kuchen Dough



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