Monday, May 9, 2011

Strawberry Kuchen

There are some foods that I would say I am a purist about.  For instance, I do not put butter on brioche or biscuits that are already buttery.  Also, if a steak is good, I do not want to slather steak sauce on it, I would like to actually taste the meat.

Which brings me to my father.  He loves strawberries and is very particular about them.  Buy the smallest you can get, he says, they are the sweetest.  Funny thing, because it is obvious that the farmers are trying to grow bigger strawberries.

The most popular strawberry pie is actually a cold one with a transparent red glaze.  Not being real keen on the glaze or cold part, I opted to find something different.  This particular recipe hit the spot.  It is served slightly warm and the strawberries cook in their own juices.

There are few recipes that celebrate the pure flavor of strawberries.  Strawberry shortcake is one for a cold dessert and this Kuchen is the other for a warm dessert.  The simple ingredients combine to make a juicy concoction of strawberries surrounded by a buttery crust.

Strawberry Kuchen
courtesy of

Lemon zest from 1 lemon
5 cups of halved strawberries
1/2 cup butter (cubed)
1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tbs
1 cup flour plus 2 tbs
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbs white vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Take out a 9 inch springform pan.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  With a pastry cutter, cut in the butter cubes until no dry spots remain.  Mixture should be crumby without any dusty flour at the bottom of your bowl.  Pour in the vinegar and shape into dough form.

Place dough in sprinform pan and flour hands and fingers.  Press on the dough to form a 1/4 inch bottom with 1 inch high sides.  Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons of flour and the rest of the sugar.  Then add the lemon zest and vanilla extract, stirring until evenly combined.  Fold in 3 cups of the strawberries, making sure that sugar mixture evenly coats pieces and there is no loose sugar in the bottom of the bowl.  Spoon strawberry mixture into prepared springform pan.

Place pan on center rack in oven and set timer to 40 minutes.  After timer goes off, check and see if strawberry juices have thickened up.  It should be like syrup.  If not place back in oven to cook for an additional 5 minutes and check again.  Original recipe states that baking time will be 40-50 minutes.

Once the juices have reached the correct consistency, remove pan from oven and place on cooling rack.  Let cool in pan for at least 30 minutes. After cooling, run a small knife around the inside of the pan, between the inside crust and pan.  Remove the sides of springform pan by opening the side latch.

Take the remaining strawberry halves and place them on top of the filling.  Serve while warm and (if desired) add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.