Kuchen is German for cake, usually a cake similar to what most of us call a coffee cake. The classic kuchen is usually made with plum halves that end up sinking into the batter, but other fruits, or a combination of fruit, can be used. This kuchen recipe has a high fruit to batter ratio and is not overly sweet; the fruit is the star of this treat. It is wonderful with a cup of coffee!
My favorite fruit stand had pluots available. A pluot is a hybrid of a plum and apricot, with about 3/4 plum and 1/4 apricot characteristics. It has the smooth purple skin that a plum is known for but the flesh has more of an orange tint, like an apricot. I find them utterly delightful! They were especially good baked in this kuchen.
Fresh Fruit Kuchen
2 pounds Italian purple plums or fresh apricots, halved and pitted, or 3 1/2 pounds very ripe, but firm and good-flavored fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into thick slices **
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated or turbinado (raw) sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of a 15 1/2 x 10 1/2-inch jelly roll pan (it must have the 1-inch sides).
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and cake flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the milk, egg, oil, and vanilla. Beat hard with a whisk until the batter has a stiff, smooth consistency, about 30 seconds.
Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the batter in an even layer. Arrange the fruit pieces in neat, even rows across and down the batter, as close together as possible, to completely cover the batter, but leaving a 1-inch rim of exposed batter around the edges. If you use two kinds of fruit, alternate the rows. If you use three, alternate sections of the fruit.
Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Drizzle with the lemon juice. Lay a piece of parchment paper loosely over the top, securing the four corners with wooden toothpicks if necessary (this helps cook the fruit more thoroughly rather than having it brown).
Bake on the center rack of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sides of the cake are golden brown, a cake tester inserted into the side and center comes out clean, and the fruit is cooked and bubbly. Remove the pan from the oven, remove the parchment paper, and cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve in squares cut from the pan, warm or at room temperature, dusted with the confectioners' sugar.
** For ease of peeling the peaches, blanch them in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to a bowl of ice water. Place each peach on a layer of paper towel and slip off the skin with your fingers or a paring knife.