Sunday, December 16, 2012

Babes December Tray Bake

When you read British food blogs, I think they refer to today's recipe as a tray bake...a treat baked in a rectangular pan (or even a square one) and served as slices or slabs. It doesn't sound all that appealing, but tray bakes are usually my favorite dessert recipes. In Germany they are kuchen. The Bread Baking Babes are gathering around the table of our December Kitchen of the Month, Gretchen of Provecho Peru, to make Apple Kuchen.

The holiday run-up is in full swing! Worked on the annual Christmas letter, but made sure to keep it to one page, including photos. Took in a holiday party or two, visits with friends where I admired their superior Christmas decorating skills. We do have our tree decorated and a wreath on the door and one string of lights up the banister but I am in awe of friends who do little groupings of trees or Santas or snowmen and make them look just right, something I don't feel I know how to do very well.

One thing I do know how to do is bake, especially breads and cakes. On Saturday I pretended I was in Gretchen's kitchen baking kuchen with her. The recipe she gave is for an apple kuchen with a yeasted dough on the bottom of the pan and an apple topping (although I used apricots as you can see below) with a yummy, rich crumble on top.

Gretchen gave us a description of the different kuchens:

"Kuchen is said to be the German word for cake. Maybe someone more German than I can confirm that? There are several “types” of kuchen that can be prepared:

Rolled - filled dough in a long spiral, baked & sliced to serve
Custard - thick cake-y crust with sweet custard filling
Cheesecake - yeasted crust with fruit and a cream cheese filling
Coffeecake - cinnamon sugar streaks in a butter cake
Pie - thick cake-y crust with apple-pie filling and sweet white icing

We are making something (that I think) is closest to the 'Pie Kuchen'."

I'm convinced that nothing succeeds like excess, so I changed a few things (as I often do) to make the treat even more luxurious. I used white whole wheat flour, browned the butter, then added the sugar and did a bit of stirring to let the sugar begin to dissolve. I also added a tiny bit of almond extract to the liquid mixture. I love nutmeg, so added some to both the dry mixture and to the crumble. On Gretchen's suggestion I doubled the crumble mixture but, because I decided to go all-out on the almond flavors, I used 1/2 cup almond flour and 1/2 cup flour. Still being excessive, I added thin sliced almonds to the bottom and sides of the pan after greasing it. They toasted while the kuchen baked and added a nice crunch to each bite. Last, but not least, I substituted canned apricots for the apples. I've always loved almonds and apricots together.

This was a wonderful, flavorful, almost extravagant kuchen! I skipped any creamy topping because with all that crumble it was rich enough 'plain'.

The dough was easy to work with, although I did used 2 1/2 cups flour to make the dough stiff. Mine didn't rise a lot but that was probably due to the house being cold and damp. We had a raw day Saturday. Of course that made this treat all the more welcome. It was great with a cup of coffee for an afternoon snack.

Thank you Gretchen for choosing such a great December recipe! Do check out the other Bread Baking Babes sites for their take on this festive treat.

I'm sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for her Yeastspotting event. I've been remiss in not joining that round up lately, but I recommend it to you as a marvelous place to be inspired to bake with yeast! Lots of great recipes every week.

The recipe can be found at Gretchen's blog, HERE.

Happy kuchen baking!


  1. You're really in a great holiday state of mind! Love those tweaks, apricot and almonds... YES to that. Your kuchen looks fantastic!

  2. Is that right? Nothing succeeds like excess! No wonder I like you.
    White whole wheat flour - check
    added sugar - check
    spices - check
    double the crumble - check
    slivered almonds - um, only to the topping, must remember to line the pan with them next time
    browned butter - um, will do that next time
    almond extract & flour - next time
    apricots - um, well I do love apricots but I'm presently having an affair with apples ;-)
    Beautiful Kuchen Pat.

  3. What a great idea to use apricots! And I LOVE your idea that "nothing succeeds like excess".

    Well done, you! (And thank you - I think - for the reminder that I'm supposed to be writing a Christmas letter. eEeeeekkkk! Is it really 17 December already?)

  4. I've never heard the term 'tray bake' before. My day is complete; I learned something new. It looks fabulous - apricots and almonds - yum!

  5. yes to the embellshments! I really think this is one that's good as it is but also will dress up like a teenager on a Friday night.
    I really like the apricots!

    and agree on the christmas decoration. Not a talent of mine either. There are people around who make over the top look just right and meant to be. Envy!

  6. Love that you really made this one your own with the flavors! So glad you could bake along with us!

  7. Anonymous6:41 AM

    I love your idea. Apricots and almonds are a wonderful combination and one that I seem to forget. Thanks for the reminder