Blintzapalooza celebrates sweet world of kuchen at 25th anniversary event

Kuchen can be just about anything sweet, delicious and cakey. Think of it as a coffee or a yeast cake. Common ingredients, no matter the cake style, are nuts, sugar and cinnamon.

“I think for every Jewish person, their mother set the standard” for the perfect kuchen, said Russ Lidman, an Olympia resident and member of Temple Beth Hatfiloh, which on Sunday will celebrate its 25th annual Blintzapalooza, a fundraiser at the temple that raises money for charitable organizations. For sale at the event will be books, blintzes and bagels with lox and cream cheese.

As part of the event, there will be a kuchen baking competition. Past competitions have been for bagels or challah. This year’s category is far-flung – just about any kind of cakey or yeasty dessert can be entered.

Kuchen, pronounced cookin’, is a German-Yiddish cake. It’s frequently baked with fruit. As the cake became popular in the United States, it adopted a familiar name for anyone of a certain age – coffee cake. That’s a spin on the word kaffeekuchen.

Lidman’s mother was known for her yeasty pull-apart kuchen and her sour cream kuchen – the styles are quite different, but both have one thing in common – they’re full of flavor and calories. “It’s real comfort food, not health food,” joked Lidman. His mother’s recipes, shared here, both have cinnamon.

When Lidman thinks of a traditional kuchen, he thinks of a yeast cake – something that takes three to four hours to rise. “Traditionally, all those hours, people let the yeast do the work. Now people don’t have that kind of time,” he said. A modern adaptation would be a quick bread or tart, something that takes minutes to assemble.

There’s another entire category of kuchen made with fruit. Temple member Camille Kettel’s creation is something like a fruit tart, a pastry base topped with peaches and then a creamy yogurt custard topping. She shares her recipe here. Temple member Edie Bean also shares a recipe that resembles a tart. She tops hers with plums or apples that are sauteed in butter and sugar.

Want to enter the kuchen baking competition at Blintzapalooza? Temple organizers say you should drop off your kuchen beginning around 10 a.m. Sunday. Judging will happen later in the afternoon. Give these recipes a try – they’re courtesy of temple members.

Mummy's Sour Cream Kuchen

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

2 cups cake flour or 1  3/4 cups regular flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping: ½ cup chopped nuts,  ½ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients for the topping. To make the cake, cream sugar and butter. Add remaining ingredients. Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan or 10-inch tube pan. Pour in half of batter and spread with half of the topping mixture. Pour remaining batter into pan and top with remaining topping mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Source: Russ Lidman

Peach Pecan Custard Kuchen

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon  baking powder

1 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar

1 cup butter

6 cups sliced fresh peaches or two (16-ounce) bags frozen peaches, thawed and drained

1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon, combined with ½ teaspoon brown sugar

6 large eggs

2 (6-ounce) containers vanilla yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. In medium bowl, beat eggs, yogurt and vanilla until smooth, set aside. In large bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Stir In melted butter and mix until crumbly. Pat mixture evenly on bottom and sides of baking dish. Top crust mixture with peaches. In small bowl, mix remaining sugar and cinnamon brown sugar mixture, and sprinkle over the peaches. Bake 15 minutes and remove from oven. Pour egg-yogurt mixture over top of partially baked kuchen

Sprinkle pecans over all. Return to oven and bake 45 to 50 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Source: Camille Kettel

Pull Apart Kuchen

1 cup milk, scalded

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 packages yeast

2 eggs

4 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Nuts, optional

Mix 1/2 cup butter or margarine, ½ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt into milk When lukewarm, add three packages yeast. Pour into a bowl and add two well-beaten eggs, then add flour and mix until smooth. Let rise for two hours. Punch down and make little balls of dough. Melt 1 stick butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon, set aside. Crush nuts, if using. Dip each dough ball into butter, then sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place dough balls into springform pan, touching, and let rise for 1 hour. Top with nuts, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Source: Russ Lidman

Plum Kuchen

For the crust:

1 cup of flour

1/2 cup of powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter – softened

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 lemon rind grated


14 plums (or substitute 6 apples if it’s not plum season)

Butter and sugar for sauteeing

1 tablespoon lemon juice and zest, or to taste

1/4 cup of sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup walnuts

For the crust: Mix flour, sugar, baking powder together. Add butter and then egg yolks. Add sour cream and then lemon rind. Mix together and form a  ball (more flour may be needed)

Cool in refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll or pat into 8 by 10 inch tart pan

For the filling: Saute the apples in a little butter and sugar. Layer half of the apples in a circular pattern and sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar over them Sprinkle the walnuts over this layer and top with another layer of apples. Sprinkle remaining sugar mixture over them

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Top with whipped cream or ice cream

Source: Edie Bean