I spend a good deal of time drooling at all the delicious looking things being blogged about around the world. Still, it’s a rare occasion when I see something I’ll actually make. This mostly has to do with the fact that following someone else’s recipe is contrary to the ethos of this blog. There have been a few times, like here and here where I just couldn’t resist. Today was one of those days and after seeing Jenni’s Apfelkuchen over at Online Pastry Chef, I was compelled to head to the store to get the requisite ingredients.
Of course in keeping with my philosophy, I used Jenni’s recipe as a guide and made alterations, most notably to the flavours. When I first saw the picture of her Apfelkuchen, before I read the description, my first thoughts were of a pastry with a yeast risen buttermilk crust filled with tart apples, honey, almonds, lemon and cheese. As it turns out I was a bit off in impression. While her version sounds delicious, I used my initial impression as a basis for my version.
Apples have a very mild flavour that’s easy masked, which is why so many fruit juices us apple juice as a base. I really wanted the apple to be the star of this dish, so I used vanilla to lay down a nice neutral base, painted on layers of honey and marzipan then added lemon zest to provide some highlights. The result was a rich decadent dessert you don’t feel horrible about having for breakfast. It’s like all the best parts an apple pie and a soft custardy cheesecake all wrapped in a sweet buttery brioche-like dough.
If you’re wondering why this doesn’t look like any kuchen you’ve ever seen, it’s probably because kuchen is the German word for “cake” and refers to a whole class of desserts. Käsekuchen (lit. cheesecake) is a more specific dessert which is a yeast leavened pastry that’s usually filled with sweetened Quark. In case you’re wondering, Quark is a fresh cheese, not a character on Deep Space 9. It’s not quite the same as cream cheese, but since cream cheese is easier to find it makes a suitable substitute.
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C flour + around another 1/2 C
generous pinch kosher salt
1/2 C buttermilk
6 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 granny smith apples peeled, cored and sliced
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 Tbs honey
2 tsp flour
8 oz package of cream cheese
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp meyer lemon zest
Combine yeast, sugar salt and 1/2 C of flour in the bowl of an electric mixer
Melt the butter then add the egg yolk to the butter and the egg white to the buttermilk. Whisk each one separately then combine and whisk together. Add the vanilla then pour it all into the mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Attach the dough hook to your mixer and mix on low adding a tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough is still soft, but stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer up to medium and let it do its thing for about 7 minutes or until the surface of the dough is silky smooth. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled (about 2 hours).
Put the oven rack in the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mist a 9″ round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray, then press the dough into the bottom, coming most of the way up the sides of the pan.
Mix the apples, lemon juice, honey and flour to combine then lay down a single layer of apples along the bottom of the dough. Then work the Marzipan into thin pieces and scatter them on top of the apples.
To make the cream cheese topping, add the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth and creamy scraping down the sides several times. Add the egg and continue beating until shiny and smooth. Pour mixture over the apples and marzipan making sure it doesn’t go above the rim of dough (you may need to press the dough up further).
Let this rest for about 20 minutes then put it in the oven. Bake until golden brown around the edges and the center is just a little jiggly about 40 minutes.