Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Remembering Nana's Apple Sour Cream Kuchen

A while back I picked up some pristine, perfectly-rounded small apples at the farmers market -- Ginger Gold, if memory serves. They shimmered with flecks of green and gold, and just a dab of pink blush.

For some reason, I immediately thought of Nana's Sour Cream Apple Kuchen. I hadn't tasted it in years, but the sweet memory was still vivid - buttery apples, dusted with cinnamon and arranged in a mosaic atop molten yellow cake.

Perhaps it was their perfect shape, but I could easily picture those apples sliced into perfect half moons, radiantly adorning the top of one of Nana's celestial kuchens.

Now I'm certain Nana – who passed eight years ago – probably never tasted a Ginger Gold apple. But she had an eye for perfect slices, and her Apple Kuchen, neatly arranged in a 9-by-13 baking pan, was present at many family gatherings. Ask my brothers or cousins – they’re certain to remember it.

Returning to my desk, I call Mom. Do you have the recipe for Nana’s Apple Kuchen? No?? Astonishing, since hoarding recipes has proven to be a genetic trait.

I search the Internet for kuchen recipes, but they seem complicated and some even require yeast. Not likely - Nana was good, but scratch baking was usually reserved for cookies. And, I didn’t remember yeast in the kuchen. It was more a homey, easy-to-prepare recipe, with love as the main ingredient.

Then Mom calls me back – she’s located a recipe in one of her newer cookbooks that might come close. It sounds right, so I give it a try. My little mandolin slices those Ginger Gold apples into paper-thin crescents. And the aroma? I am ten years old again.

I take the Apple Sour Cream Kuchen to the office, where Zany, Mad Me-Shell and the boss dig in. It’s a little like sharing the vivacious spirit of Nana, even today.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a try. Don’t judge me for using a box cake mix. The taste is absolutely what I remember, and I think Nana would have approved. Overall, I think she was a believer in the end result of baking, and not a stickler about the process.

Apple Sour Cream Kuchen
(Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn ©1999)
Butter for the pan
1 package (18.25) plain yellow cake mix
1 cup sour cream
8 tablespoon butter (1 stick) melted
1 large egg
3 cups peeled, sliced cooking apples
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with butter.
Place cake mix, sour cream, 4 tablespoons melted butter and the egg in a large mixing bowl. Blend with mixer on low until the dough just comes together. Press dough evenly over the bottom of the pan, pressing up the sides. Bake in oven for 10 minutes.
Toss apples with lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Place sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir until combined. Remove cake from oven, but leave oven on.

Arrange apple slices in rows across the top of the warm cake. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples. Drizzle remaining 4 tablespoons of melted butter over the sugar mixture. Return the pan to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 to 32 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes.

©2009 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely things to do - make your Nana's kutchen. I can see her smiling down as you presented it. I'll keep a look-out for the Ginger Gold apple. What would we do without our mandolins?

As far as the cake mix goes, I'll tell you what I told someone who used a prepared pizza dough: One time Mario Batali made a wonderful chicken liver spread with anchovies. When someone said their friends didn't like anchovies, Mario replied, "As for people who claim to dislike anchovies, do not feel obligated to disclose their presence." Same with cake mix, don't you think?

Foodiewife said...

I completely forgot that I own this book! Preserving heirloom recipes is something I'm on a mission to do. This one is lovely and I don't judge you on using a cake mix-- I keep a box or two, for when I'm in a pinch.
Thanks for sharing this one-- I'd love to make it.

Christo Gonzales said...

wow - this looks and sounds great - good job!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

When an executive pastry chef gave me her favorite gingerbread cake recipe -- and the first ingredient was a box cake mix -- I knew it was okay to take a bit of help from convenience products from time to time! This kuchen looks delicious. And I look for any excuse to use my mandoline.

~~louise~~ said...

How sweet of you to share your Nana's Apple Sour Cream Kuchen memories with us, T.W. It looks heavenly! I do believe I caught a waft of the aroma all the way out here in Westhampton. (Yes, I'm back in NY)

Now, I don't feel so bad having to admit my switching to a cake mix to bake Tabi's Strawberry Shortcake after two, yes two, from scratch failures. I can only hope she too will have such fond memories.

Thank you so much for sharing and your honesty. Your Kuchen sure does have this Grammy's approval!!!

Julia said...

I don't judge you for using a cake mix.... the flavor memory is far more important and it sounds like you were successful. Sounds delicious! And as someone who is pitiful at making cakes, I'd probably use cake mix too.

Kathy said...

Don't feel bad about the cake mix. Maybe your Nana used a cake mix too? My grandmother took to Dream Whip and never looked back. This looks great and I hope to try it soon for the apple fan at my house. I've never seen the Ginger Gold apples either, but will certainly try some now if I ever see any.

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Never heard of that cake but it looks delicious. So nice of you to bake for your coworkers.

veron said...

Great job on making your Nana's kutchen. I bet is delicious, but then again I have a love for apple desserts!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Interesting recipe! I always enjoy reading stories that reminisce about people and food. This recipe is rich with wonderful memories!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

When I visited RI in October, my mom's friend made a plum kuchen. It was wonderful, but I think I'd prefer Nan's Apple Sour Cream version.

Stacey Snacks said...

This is insanely beautiful!
I don't use cake mix, but I may make an exception for this one!
I have an apple kuchen recipe from years ago....I will have to find it.
My mouth is watering!

Jann said...

You had to make Nana proud........I love these types of recipes from the family.....many memories

Darina said...

Wow, this looks great. I love apples. So easy to make--the perfect recipe for my sorry cake-making skills. I will give this one a try.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Darina - thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you give the Kuchen a try!