I can never decide whether to enjoy this cake for breakfast or dessert, so I usually end up having it twice in one day. It’s a nice fruity wake-up for your taste buds in the morning; add a scoop of ice cream on top and your last course is served. Either way, it tastes like Christmas to me. No doubt it’s the cranberries punctuated by a hit of orange zest in the nut filling. Well, that, and we also try to make it on every Christmas Eve for Santa’s arrival. Santa likes Cran-Apple Kuchen–who knew!
If you’re not familiar, Kuchen is a German coffee cake. It has a dense crust topped with nut filling and it’s usually loaded with fruit. It’s a hearty confection that improves on standing. I think it’s best the day after it’s made, but sometimes it’s rare thing to have leftover Kuchen. There are several steps to this scratch-made recipe, but it’s not much trouble to put together.
First, combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.
Whisk until ingredients are evenly dispersed.
Add the butter and cut in with a pastry blender. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use two knives or even a round cookie cutter.
Blend until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.
Combine the egg, water and vanilla extract.
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. You might not be able to incorporate all the flour, so don’t worry if it looks a little dry.
Knead the dough until all the flour is incorporated and a solid dough is formed.
Press the dough into the bottom of a greased 9-inch cake pan. Chill the pan of dough for 15 minutes.
For the nut filling, you’ll place the nuts, sugar, flour and zest in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are chopped fine and the zest is evenly dispersed.
Next, add the egg and butter to the bowl.
Process again until a consistent nut paste is formed.
Spread the nut filling over the chilled crust evenly.
For the cranberry filling, mix the whole berry cranberry sauce with the orange juice in a small bowl. Mix until the cranberry sauce loosens slightly.
Spread the cranberry filling over the nut filling, leaving a 1-inch margin around the edge of the pan.
Quarter the apples and then cut slits in them lengthwise. Cut to, but not through the cored side. If you’ve ever made hasselback potatoes, you’ll have no problem with this task!
Arrange the apple quarters cored-side-down around the outside edge of the dough crust so the apples are just touching.
Now the cake is ready to bake. It takes about an hour, and you’ll know it’s done when the crust turns golden and the apples fan slightly.