Baking Through History: Great Grandma’s Kuchen

Nearly every holiday season, I go back to my roots and make my great-grandma’s kuchen!

Kuchen (ko͞okən), as defined by dictionary.com, is a cake, especially one eaten with coffee.

Every family of German heritage has their own version of kuchen – including mine. It is a very popular holiday treat in North Dakota and South Dakota. It has gotten so popular, there are now a few companies that make it in large quantities and sell/ship them all over the country.

Kuchen – to my family – is like a pie and cake combined. It has a very tasty yeast dough that is baked in a pie pan with a cream and egg custard on top. The most common way to top the custard before baking it is with cinnamon and sugar, but you can add fruit like strawberries, blueberries, plums, peaches, figs, cherries, etc.

My family’s recipe has been passed down for generations. My great grandma, Laura Berreth, who lived to be 95 years old, used to make it every Christmas. Our large, extended family, who always gathered at her home in Herreid, S.D., ate every bite of her kuchen.

When I was around 7 or 8, my grandma, Carol, and my aunt, Laurie, started to teach me how to make this delicious dish – and I’ve made it almost every year since.

I’ve tweaked the recipe, modernized a few of her methods and added my own twists, but it is still the same family recipe that’s been used for decades. This dish takes about one day to make – and I haven’t yet figured out how to cut down on that time.

I enjoy giving them as Christmas gifts, so right now they’re not on my menu. Perhaps one day, they’ll be added – but for now, they transport me to Christmas Day at my great grandma’s house… Including to that one year when there was a blizzard, everyone had to sleep on the floor because there weren’t enough beds – and the next day we had a family snowball fight and my cousins made the largest snowman I’d ever seen.

Kuchen
By Laura Berreth

Makes 10-12 kuchen

Kuchen Filling: (can be made the night before baking)

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

Mix all three ingredients into a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring consistently, until thickened.
Let the filling cool on the stove top. If making the night before, put filling into container and refrigerate overnight.
*The filling can be doubled or tripled

Kuchen Dough:

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk, scalded and then cooled to 105 degrees
  • 2/3 cup cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 7-8 cups of flour

Scald milk in sauce pan on stove top. Cool to 105 degrees so it doesn’t kill the yeast.
Dissolve yeast in warm water (110 degrees) until blooming (about 5 minutes).
Add milk, yeast water, oil, sugar, salt, eggs and nutmeg into a bowl or into a stand mixer with dough hook.
Slowly add in flour until the dough mixed and the dough is not sticky and feels elastic.
Place dough into lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise 60-90 minutes until double in size. Punch down and let rise again 60-90 minutes.
Slice off pieces of dough to fit the bottom of a pie plate, roll out and place in pie plate. (The dough does not go up the sides like a pie)
Top with filling to cover bottom of dough, sprinkle with topping (recipe below).
Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes until sides of dough are browned slightly.

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • Optional fruit like strawberries, apples, plums, peaches or blueberries can be added, if desired

Mix together non-fruit items together with fingers until crumbly. If adding fruit, spread fruit onto filling first and then add topping.

Other posts from Baking Through History:

Please sign up for my newsletter so you never miss an episode or new recipe.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.


Baking Through History: Potato Chip Cookies

Potato Chip Cookies

I found the cookbook “Pass the Plate: The Collection from Christ Church” is a massive antique shop outside of Charlotte.

The shop, called The Depot at Gibson Mill, has aisle and aisle of antiques, some junk, and books. Lots and lots of books – including old cookbooks.

If you’re ever in the Concord area – I definitely recommend stopping there. But, make sure you have at least two hours to go. Even then, however, you won’t see it all. It is big.

In one of the aisles, I found this old church cookbook, which was published in 1981.

The book was published by the Episcopal Churchwomen and Friends of Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, North Carolina. In the foreword of the book, there is a short history of the town and the church parish.

According to the book, New Bern was settled in 1710 by a colony of Swiss and German Palatines. It was named in honor of Baron Christopher deGraffenried’s native Bern, Switzerland. In 1715, in the Province of North Carolina, the “Act for Establishing the Church and Appointing Select Vestrys” was created and that marks the start of Christ Church in New Bern. The site where the church is currently located in the town has been used for more than 300 years.

New Bern has a special place in my heart because it was where I met my husband when we both attended the annual U.S. Marine’s Ball in 2005. He was there with his mom and I was there with a friend. We danced the night away. I called him a stud muffin. And, we’ve been together ever since.

So this recipe, Potato Chip Cookies, are cookies with crushed potato chips in them. Salty. Sweet. How could this recipe be bad? The recipe doesn’t say what type of potato chips to use but I would assume it is plain chips with salt – nothing too crazy like jalapeño. 🙂

So, here is the recipe:

Potato Chip Cookies
Submitted by Patricia Byrum McCotter and by Carol Coleman Pursell 

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup potato chips, crushed
  • 4x powdered sugar
  • ½ cup pecans, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, flour and vanilla well. Add nuts. Add potato chips. Pinch into marvel-sized pieces and place on cookie sheet. Press flat with fork. Bake 13 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Yield: 5 dozen

I cut this recipe in half because even though I share with my coworkers – I don’t need 5 dozen cookies.

This recipe is just OK. It is not my favorite, but I definitely don’t hate it. I could tweak it a bit to maybe add more salt or more sugar, but I’m not sure that would help. I could also make the bigger, but, that could alter the way it bakes. If you try these and love them, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

There are so many more recipes in this book that I can’t wait to tackle including Applesauce Cupcakes and what’s called the “Totally Amazing Tomato-Spice Cake.” That one even has a note that says, “A delicious way to use up your garden’s bumper crop! Children refuse to believe there are tomatoes in this cake.”

…We’ll see about that one… stay tuned!

Other posts in Baking Through History:

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Baking Through History: Great Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

If you remember my second video about Ginger Cookies, you’ll remember how much my great grandma Laura loved to bake. Read more on those cookies – HERE.

Here again is another recipe from her given to me by her daughter, my great aunt, Betty.

Betty wrote about this recipe in the email to me and said, “I love the taste of this dough because of the nutmeg in it. I loved helping so I could eat the dough. I liked my mother-in-laws caramel syrup better than mom’s, so I don’t have mom’s recipe for the syrup. Mom also used this dough recipe to make her kuchen. Hope this helps. I haven’t made these in years!” – – Betty

I love these kinds of recipes – ones passed down from mother to daughter and down the line. 

Caramel Rolls

It is interesting to me that there is shortening in the dough. I did quite a bit of research on this because I expected butter.

Shortening, according to King Arthur Flour, adds a tenderness to dough and cakes. It can also help if your all-butter cookies are spreading too much in the oven. Shortening can be substituted in any recipe 1-to-1 for butter. The reason so many recipes call for butter over shortening…flavor. Butter has more flavor than shortening. In this recipe, however, there is butter in the filling, which I am sure will make these delicious.

You can make them as regular cinnamon rolls and add your own favorite frosting recipe or you can make caramel rolls as listed below.
I tried both – baking half and half in different pans.
This can make 15 large rolls or 24 medium size rolls.
You’ll need multiple pans and an instant read thermometer.

Here is the recipe as sent to me by Betty:
Cinnamon Rolls
Betty Goetz from her mom, Laura Berreth

Step One:

  • 1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast

Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Step Two:

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk, scalded

Heat milk to 180 degrees. Mix shortening into the milk to melt. Milk will need to cool to below 110 degrees before adding to mixing bowl for dough, so it doesn’t kill the yeast.

Step Three:

  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs (beat them first before adding)
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 T. lemon juice (if desired)
  • 7- 8 cups bread flour
  • Mix all ingredients (including yeast mixture and milk mixture) into stand mixer or bowl. Slowly add in flour and knead dough until it can be handled without sticking to your hands.

Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise 60-90 minutes, punch down, and then rise again for 60 minutes.

Step Four:

  • 1/2 stick of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup brown sugar (depending on size of rectangle)
  • 2 T. Cinnamon

Roll dough into large rectangle; spread with soft butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Roll up, beginning at wide side.
Cut into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces.
Place in pan or pans and let rise until puffy.
Add optional caramel syrup (recipe below) after they have risen but before baking.
Bake 20-30 minutes at 325 degrees.

Step Five (if making rolls with frosting):

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tblspn milk

Mix together to create cream cheese frosting.
Spread over cooled buns.

Caramel Syrup for Cinnamon Rolls
Betty Goetz from Stella Goetz (Dwight’s mom):

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup margarine or butter
  • 4 T. water
  • 4 T. white corn syrup
  • 1 T. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup whipping cream

Mix together first 6 ingredients in a sauce pan, stirring constantly.
Bring to a boil.
Boil 1 minute and then, off the heat, add 1 cup cream.
Cool before pouring over unbaked, risen rolls.
Bake rolls as noted above.
**Caramel rolls might take a few minutes longer.

My great grandma’s recipe is absolutely delicious. The rolls come out tender and soft. I used bread flour in it, though the original recipe didn’t note which kind to use. I also added the measurements for the filling since those were not listed in the original.
I will definitely bake these on a cookie sheet with them separated rather than smooshed into a square pan. I think the air circulation will be better and they will brown more.

If you bake this recipe, let me know! I’d love to hear from you on how it went.

I have two more recipes from my great grandma that I’m going to bake up for you. One is called Peppernut Cookies and the other is a Christmas favorite in my family. Kuchen. I’ll be baking up the kuchen on Dec. 14, so stay tuned for that episode!

I have also come across a recipe for potato chip cookies and one for cookies baked in a casserole dish… I am too intrigued to not make those for you. Thanks for watching!

Other posts about Baking Through History:

Please sign up for my newsletter so you never miss an episode or new recipe.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Baking Through History: A Series of Stories From Vintage Recipes

Vintage is all the rage right now. Whether vintage to you means the 90s or the 60s, bringing back what was once old is in.

First Baptist Church in Glenburn, N.D. Cookbook

From butterfly clips and bell bottom pants to your grandma’s Pyrex and bake ware, vintage is here to stay.

But what about vintage recipes? You know, the ones found in the church cookbooks that someone’s great aunt or grandma made.

What about those cookies, cakes and pies that bring a sense of nostalgia?

The Great Big Cookie Book by Hilaire Walden

I’m bringing those back. And, I’m going to document it all with video and blog posts.

I love to read old recipes. Cookies, cakes, pies … you name it. I read them not only to see if I’m interested in baking it – or tweaking it to sell in my home-based bakery, but also for fun.

I have quite a few old cookbooks already – ones from church groups, ones found at antique shops and old recipes passed down from my great-grandma and grandma. I’ll be pulling from those and from the books my mother-in-law, who also likes to bake and cook, has in her library and from friends who have volunteered their old books.

Favorite Recipes from Lutheran Brotherhood

Those old family recipes shared in simple books are stories. Stories that tell not only of the time in which they were created, but of the place they were created and of the people enjoying them.

So, in addition to baking and blogging, I’ll be researching to find the origin of those recipes to honor them and tell the story. Of course, you’ll get to see the book where I found the recipes – and get the recipe itself as well.

I hope to post one video/blog post per week as I make my way through vintage recipes. And I’d love to hear from you and share some of your old family recipes and the stories behind them. You can share them with me via email at pigdogfarms@gmail.com. You can send pictures of the recipe and then tell me of the memories you have with that recipe.

My first video and blog post is here! READ HERE

Baking through History series:

Please also subscribe below to my newsletter – that way you’ll never miss a post or video.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Gardening: A History

My first memory of gardens goes way, way back. My great-grandma had a beautiful flower garden in her backyard. I remember running through, stopping to smell the flowers, and then heading over to my friend’s house for some red hot candies.

My second memory of gardens is also a long-ago memory. My grandma in Wyoming had an amazing garden in her front yard – and raspberry bushes in her backyard. I loved playing near the flowers and pretending I was in a secret garden. Even now, every time I see daisies, I think of her beautiful yard.

My very first garden photo – cilantro and basil in 2009.

Now, fast forward a few decades. I first got the inkling to play in the dirt in 2009. This was the first time I bought a pot, some dirt and a “plant baby” from Lowes. We had moved to Myrtle Beach the year before – we’d gotten Piggy – and now, it was time to start. Little did I know gardening would become a big passion of mine.

Snow in Feb. 2010.

That first year, I don’t think I did much more than plant some basil and cilantro in pots. And, as you can see in the picture, I made a few mistakes by leaving flowers outside…when we were expecting SNOW! Yes, snow…at the beach.

April 2010 front porch garden

But, in the spring of 2010, I got a few more pots and things started to take off. That first year, I planted cucumbers, basil, squash, lettuce, cilantro, strawberries and a few other things that I can’t tell what they are from that picture.

As you can see, I learned that cucumbers need supports to grow – so I made a makeshift trellis.

Beans in the ground

The next year, in 2011, we moved to our new house. The following spring, I started working in the ground to build our garden. That’s when I learned that pine tree roots are very hard to dig through. Some of the vegetables survived, but many did not.

Baby tomato seedlings

It took another season of unsuccessful in-ground gardening for me to take the next step and get raised beds. This is when things clicked. If you have poor soil – full of roots – like I do, raised beds are a blessing…if you prepare them properly.

Collards from 2018

That first year, I got a little TOO excited to get plant and could have done a better job putting down a weed blocker and enhancing the soil. But, you live and you learn.

In 2019, I got a few more raised beds and after reading a book on companion planting flowers with vegetables, everything really took off.

Zinnias and cosmos in 2019.

I started growing zinnias, cosmos, sweet peas, black-eyed susans and marigolds. I couldn’t believe how many pollinators came to the garden to help the vegetables grow. That season, I really learned a lot about attracting the right kind of bugs to the garden.

Lettuce and cabbage from 2019

This year, 2020, has been a major learning year. If you’ve been following along on Facebook or Instagram, I had to move four of the raised beds because they were infested with roots and grubs. In their new location, I properly prepared the soil and now the plants are healthy and successful. I also had major issues with a mulch that stunted the plants’ growth.

I also learned to feed your plants. As Martha Stewart says, “you eat, so your plants have to eat, too!” I never really used fertilizer because I am cheap, excuse me…frugal, but now I am using organic fertilizer to give the plants what they need and now they’re are growing so much better.

Below are some photos from my 2020 garden.

I’d love to hear about your garden journey, so send me a note! I might just feature you right here on the blog.

…And, if you get the movie reference for the title of this piece, leave me a note in the comments below.