Kuchen Meets Brasadella

When I (Mrs. O here) was growing up in Cleveland, we took an occasional trip to the Entenmann’s outlet near our house.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve never met a pastry I didn’t like, but the older I get, the stronger nostalgia’s influence on my tastebuds.  And boy, do I miss Entenmann’s kuchen (which, as a kid, I mentally spelled “c-o-u-c-a-n”). I know I could get it at the grocery store down the street, but it just wouldn’t taste the same without the bargain price.

Fast forward fifteenish (ok, nearly twentyish) years later, and enter Mr. O’s Nana’s brassadella (Italian coffee cake), which she calls “Italian pie”.  She bakes the pastry in a pie tin, with a lattice pattern filled with damson plum jam.  It is heavenly, and hard to make. Many, many months ago, I bought damson plum jam in the hope that I might master brassadella, but a small baby of my acquaintance has thwarted my plan.

But yesterday, I couldn’t stand it any longer.  I had to have a breakfast pastry for dessert.

I knew that Italian pie is out of my reach, and research on kuchen (which, in German, is a generic term for cake, but here means a cakey breakfast pastry with fruit, or jam/jelly in the Entenmann’s version) led to lots and lots of recipes that involve yeast.  Yeast is not to be found in my house, I’m ashamed to say.

As a last resort, I turned to my trusty Joy of Cooking — and there it was: a recipe for a yeastless quick kuchen.  The JofC version calls for fresh fruit, but oh no, not for me. I had the jam and I wasn’t afraid to use it.

I was going for a pastry with jam spiraled on top, but experiments being experiments, the jam ended up in a layer on the bottom of the cake. Still delicious.

Lime-Glazed Kuchen with Damson Plum Jam

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • 8-10 oz thick damson plum jam (I used Trappist Preserves brand)

For the glaze:

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • powdered sugar

Butter a 9-inch baking dish/cake pan/ pie dish (I used my purple round pie dish from my excellent mother) and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Alternate adding the flour mixture and eggs (one at a time), stirring just until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Spread the dough in the baking dish/cake pan/pie dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

The amount of powdered sugar you’ll need to make a thick glaze depends on the amount of juice in the lime — but you do want the glaze thick.  Milk might give the glaze a better flavor than mine had, but I didn’t have time to test that theory.

Once the cake is completely cool, pour on the glaze, let it set for a few minutes, and serve.  Even better the next day, I think.

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