I have a passion for those delicious German cakes that consist of a base of rich bread dough, a lovely layer of fruit, and a sweet crunchy buttery topping. I’ve made some delicious versions over the years – Nigella Lawson has a really good Apple and Blackberry Kuchen in Nigella Bites, for instance – but I’m so into making naturally leavened bread these days that I really wanted to create something with a sourdough base. I was also curious to see if it was possible to make an enriched sourdough, using egg and milk in the dough. I think it works very well – but here’s my recipe – have a go and tell me what you think.
Sourdough Rhubarb Kuchen
(these are the totals – check the recipe to see how much you need to use at each stage)
- 100g wheat sourdough starter (mine is made according to the instructions in Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley)
- 100g plain wholemeal flour
- 200g strong white flour
- 1 egg
- 80g milk
- 3g salt
- 250g rhubarb
- 100g plain flour
- 75g butter
- 100g granulated sugar
First you need to wake up your sourdough starter. Put 100g of starter in a bowl and add 50g of strong white flour and 50g of plain wholemeal flour and 60g of lukewarm water. Cover and leave in a warm place for 3-4 hours.
Mix together 150g strong white flour, 50g wholemeal flour, 3g salt, 1 egg and 80g milk and knead until you have nice soft dough (7-8 minutes, or quicker in a mixer with a dough hook). Then add all the leaven from the first stage and knead together until soft and elastic. If the dough is very sticky after a couple of minutes kneading then add an extra spoonful of flour. Now cover the bowl and leave the dough to rest and relax for an hour.
Whilst your dough is resting prepare your toppings. Wash and slice 250g of rhubarb thinly (0.5cm slices) on the diagonal, then put aside. In a small bowl rub together 100g plain white flour (or wholemeal if you prefer) and 75g butter until you have a lovely lumpy crumble-type mixure. Stir in a generous 100g of sugar – granulated is fine here and gives a nice crunchy texture. You do need quite a bit of sugar to counteract the sourness of the rhubarb – if you are using a sweeter fruit (dessert plums would be delicious for instance) then use less sugar. Line a large baking tin or tray with baking parchment. I use a roasting tin that measures 30x25cm that works really well – I push the dough right up to the edges.
Chuck your dough onto your prepared tray and press it out so you have a rectangular shape that measures around 30x25cm – it really helps to wet your hands first! Cover the surface with rhubarb and then sprinkle your crumbly topping over the top. Put the tray into a large carrier bag (making sure the bag is nowhere near your kuchen or you will have a very sticky incident) and leave for about 2 hours to rise and become puffy. About 90 minutes into the rising time pre-heat your oven to gas mark 5/190C.
Bake for around 40 minutes until the bread base is cooked through and the crumble topping is golden brown.
Leave to cool and then slice into squares & store in an airtight tin. This is delicious for breakfast and keeps well for 2 or 3 days.