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Spring Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen for Opa + Oma


Strawberry Rhubarb Cake on a platter
Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen

My German grandparents, Oma and Opa, have lived on the same property for over 50 years. My Opa, now in his nineties, still prunes his fruit trees and tends to the garden (with some help). Memories of eating raspberries off the bush, the parsley and mint, the string beans... makes me feel super nostalgic. While he doesn't grow all he used to, every year the rhubarb comes back and every year he makes sure that I get a nice bundle of it - he knows how much I appreciate it.


So this year, especially with COVID and them being very isolated, I wanted to bring them a little something to have with their coffee in the afternoon. If you have a truly German Oma and Opa, you know that you always have to have something with your coffee. Cake is a way of life. So inspired by one of my favourite treats, my Oma's pflaumenkuchen (German plum cake with streusel), I decided to do a spring version with strawberry and Opa's fresh rhubarb. (The plums needed for the pflaumenkuchen don't ripen until almost fall) The result was a (HUGE) pan of sweet and tart, crumbly heaven with just a little hint of cardamom. Perfect with a cup of coffee. In fact, "kuchen" translates to "cake, especially one eaten with coffee".


Oma said it was "prima".


 


Strawberry Rhubarb "Kuchen"

Ingredients


Cake

  • 3/4 cup warm milk + 2 tablespoons (slightly warmer than body temperature, too hot and you'll kill the yeast)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast

  • 4 cups all purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 stick butter, melted but cooled (not too hot, it will kill the yeast)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Fruit

  • 3 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced

  • 1/3 cup almond flour (or grind almonds in your food processor)

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (or grind the seeds of 8 whole cardamom pods)


Streusel Topping

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 stick butter, softened

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Pinch of salt


Directions


  1. In small bowl, combine yeast with warm milk. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow to yeast to dissolve and become frothy.

  2. Meanwhile, in large bowl or stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar and salt. When yeast mixture is ready, add it to the flour mixture along with the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest. Stir to combine ingredients. With dough hook attachment, knead the dough until it forms a sticky ball, usually about 5 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky, unlike bread dough.

  3. Turn oven on low (170 F) for 2 minutes, then turn off. Place the bowl of dough in the oven and cover with a damp tea towel; allow to rise in the oven (again, be sure it's turned off and not too warm) for an hour or two until the dough has doubled in size.

  4. In the meantime, wash and slice your strawberries and rhubarb. Combine in medium bowl and set aside. In small bowl, combine sugar, almond flour and ground cardamom and stir. Set aside.

  5. Once dough has risen, use your hands to press dough into a greased 18 inch baking dish or cookie sheet with rim. Sprinkle the top with the almond flour mixture to evenly top the dough. Then evenly distribute the strawberries and rhubarb across the top. Cover with the tea towel and pop back into the oven (still off) for another 15 minutes to allow the dough a second rise.

  6. In the mean, make the streusel. Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix with your hands until everything is well mixed and you have a crumbly consistency.

  7. Take cake out of the oven and preheat oven to 350 F. Crumble streusel over the top of the fruit and bake for 35-45 minutes until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack slightly before slicing into squares and serving.


Recipe notes

  • Serve with a small dollop of lightly sweetened whip cream or a small scoop of vanilla cream if serving as a dessert.

  • Store in an airtight container for up to three days.





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