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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Blueberry Kuchen

At the Farmers Market in Evanston, IL nearly every booth from Michigan featured some variety of plump, sweet blueberry. My husband, who loves blueberries, simply could not resist. With our newly acquired blueberries in hand, I decided to try to update my husband's favorite dish from his mother's kitchen: blueberry kuchen. The resulting recipe heightens the natural taste of the blueberries, with just a hint of spices, while diminishing the distraction of the sugar.

Kuchen is a traditional German term that can refer to a number of different pastries, mostly characterized by a slightly cake-like crust. Additionally, this crust traditionally contains some vinegar, for flavor and texture. Kuchen belongs to a large category of family pastries--pie, crumble, crisp--desserts of a grandmother's kitchen which are differentiated by shades of butter. The filling for this dessert is delightful in a pie crust as well (which is what I have done in the photos), but I have provided the kuchen crust recipe for those who wish to try.

As with many desserts, this can be presented as one large communal dessert, or prepared in individual servings. I prefer individual servings for the elegance of their presentation and the benefit of portion control.


For Filling:
2 C Blueberries (fresh if possible, or frozen)
1/4 C Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon (I prefer Korintje)
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
½ tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Wheat Flour

For Topping:
1/2 C Fresh Blueberries
1 tsp Confectioners' sugar

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Mix well. Add blueberries and toss to coat. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Toss to combine.

Press pie crust or kuchen pastry into pan or ramekins. Work the crust up the sides of the pan or ramekins.

Divide filling evenly. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is deep purple and bubbly. Approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from oven. Divide the ½ C fresh blueberries among the ramekins. Set aside to cool. Let rest until room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. If you would like to serve them slightly warm, dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

Eight servings. Per serving (filling only): 74 calories, 0.2 g fat, 1 mg sodium, 1.7 g fiber

Kuchen Pastry:
1/3 C Flour
1/3 C Whole wheat flour
2 tsp Sugar
1/8 tsp Salt
4 Tbsp Butter
2 tsp White vinegar

Place dry ingredients (flour, wheat flour, sugar and salt) in a bowl and mix. Using a pastry blender if possible, or working with two forks, cut the cubed, chilled butter in. Work quickly so the butter does not soften too much. Sprinkle with the vinegar and shape gently into a disc. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Press dough into a 9-inch spring form pan or into individual oven-safe ramekins. The crust should come approximately 1 inch up the sides of the pan or ramekins.

Eight servings, per serving (kuchen crust only): 93 calories, 5.9 g fat, 77 mg sodium, 1 fiber

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