Shabbat almond, peach and apple kuchen
Serves 8 to 10
Yeast dough: 2/3 cup lukewarm milk (or soy milk)
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2 level teaspoons active dry yeast
2½ cups organic bread flour
A pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter (or non-dairy margarine)
1/3 cup superfine sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
2 heaping teaspoons vanilla sugar
Grated zest of ½ orange and ½ lemon
2 organic free-range eggs, divided use
Filling: 2 large apples, 2 heaping teaspoons vanilla sugar, 1 (15-ounce) can peaches in juice, ¾ cup golden raisins, grated zest of ½ orange and ½ lemon, a few drops of almond extract, 1 cup ground almonds
To decorate: About 1 cup powdered sugar; juice of ½ lemon; pecan nuts, pumpkin seeds and candied violets
Pour the warm milk into a small bowl and whisk in the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 heaping tablespoon flour. Set aside in a warm place to ferment for about 15 minutes until bubbles appear on the surface.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Peel and core the apples, roughly chop the flesh, and place in a pan with the vanilla sugar. Strain the peach juice into the pan and set over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil, put on a lid, and simmer gently until the apples are tender and fluffy. Add the drained peaches, golden raisins, grated orange and lemon zest, and almond extract. Fold in the ground almonds a spoonful at a time to make a soft, but not sloppy, filling. You may need to add extra (or less) ground almonds depending on the moisture of your apples. Set aside.
Sift the remaining flour with a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter or margarine with your fingers and stir in the sugars and grated orange and lemon zest.
Add one of the eggs to the bubbling yeast mixture and beat well with a fork. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and combine to a soft, pliable dough. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a clean towel, and leave to rise in a warm place for about 40 to 60 minutes until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and punch out the air with your fists. Roll out the dough to form a long rectangle, 6-by-12 inches. Spread the apple filling over the dough, leaving a border all around, tuck in the ends, and then roll up like a jelly roll. Place on your prepared baking sheet, slash the top a few times diagonally to reveal some of the filling, and cover with the same towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 20 to 30 minutes until doubled in size.
Glaze the kuchen with the remaining beaten egg and bake in the hot oven for 25 to 30 minutes until puffed up and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet.
To make the topping, mix the powdered sugar with the lemon juice to form a stiff frosting. Drizzle over the hot cake and decorate with nuts, seeds and candied violets.
Note: This cake freezes well.
Recipe tester: Use ½ cup blackberry jam for the filling if you're pressed for time. Also delicious is a filling made with ½ tube marizpan, 1 tube almond paste, a few drops almond extract and the juice of 1 large orange processed in a food processor until smooth and spreadable. To stay true to St. Patrick's day, turn this into a barm brack, or yeast bread. You'll need ½ cup raisins, ½ cup currants, 2 tablespoons citron, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon cloves and ª cup sugar. Mix filling ingredients together. After the first rise, roll out the dough and spread sugar mixture inside. Roll up the pastry, let rise until doubled and bake as directed in a prepared angel food cake pan.
This recipe is from "Jewish Traditional Cooking: Over 150 Nostalgic & Contemporary Recipes," by Ruth Joseph and Simon Round (Kyle Books, $29.95).