Kuchen (pronounced kook-in) is German for “Cake” and this special cake is delightful. Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen, an easy recipe to make anytime rhubarb is in season looks pretty and tastes amazing. The fruit melds with the topping for a nice jammy consistency and the cake is perfectly moist.
Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen was born in my search for an easy but delicious treat pairing the summer classic combination of strawberries and rhubarb. My mom and grandmother were expert pie bakers so strawberry rhubarb pie was made in my family every year, but my pie crust making skills leave me less confident for that. So after experimenting with other options, I decided to try a rift on the Peach Kuchen I posted a while back. The combination of the strawberries, rhubarb, nice thin cake and gooey topping is exactly what I was looking for!
What is Kuchen?
There are many forms of kuchen, and most I’ve seen and tried are a rather thin slab of cake, for lack of a better description. Many varieties are a custard-like cake dessert, with a sweet dough, topped with fruit and buttered sugar and spices. What’s lovely about the cake being on the thin side is, the edges become a nice crispy consistency that’s complimentary to the moist center of the cake.
The recipe for kuchen starts pretty basic and common. Butter, sugar, egg, flour, leavening, and sour cream. Like my Peach Kuchen, the Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen is also topped with fabulous fruit, spices, and sugar. This is what provides that custard, jam-like, gooey topping that is so melt-in-your-mouth tasty.
Can Kuchen be frozen?
Kuchen freezes very well when covered in plastic and then covered again in a freezer wrap or container. The cake can be frozen for several weeks before defrosting to room temperature to serve.
How do you make kuchen?
Kuchen is so easy to assemble and can be done in a stand mixer, or in a bowl stirred by hand. The cake ingredients are added with wet being combined first and the dry ingredients sprinkled on top and then mixed in. The dough is rather thick and I recommend using an off-set spatula to spread it evenly in the pan. You may question the recipe when you notice how thin it is, but it’ll be just right. Then a streusel like topping is made (cloves in the topping are amazing so don’t leave out or replace) and half gets sprinkled on top and the fruit is placed evenly all over the cake. Finish with the rest of the topping and into the oven it goes.
Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen is best after at least being able to cool to room temperature. This allows the topping to become perfectly gooey and the wonderful cloves in the topping to mellow out just enough. Leftovers should be refrigerated but allow the kuchen to return to room temperature or heat it a little before serving. Kuchen can be made three days ahead of serving.
The kuchen is great baked in a 9″x 13″ inch baking dish as it serves a nice crowd and allows a lot of edge-space in the cake for the crispy bites. The topping crisps up just right as well. All the textures in this beauty are only out shined by the fantastic flavor.
You can easily experiment with other fruits, such as pears and plums. Pretty much anything that softens nicely when baked. Here’s a look at the Peach Kuchen I mentioned earlier. Equally as delicious and you can use fresh or frozen peaches.
Perfect for breakfast or a brunch, or after a summer dinner, Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen will appeal to everyone. With the wonderful clove flavor, kuchen will serve you well for a Christmas dinner party too. The sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb pair perfectly in flavor and texture. The cake is moist and not heavy, but not too airy either. It seriously has all the “things”.
Save Kuchen to your “Cakes” or “Baking” board and let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’d love to share tasty recipes with you.
Strawberry Rhubarb Kuchen
For the cake:
Assemble the cake:
- Grease a 9x13-inch pan. Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the center position. In a large bowl cream together ½ cup butter and ½ cup sugar. Blend in 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup sour cream. Mix in 1 ½ cups flour and ¾ teaspoon baking powder. Spread the dough in a prepared pan. The dough will be rather thick and once it's spread in the pan, it'll be a rather thin layer.
Mix together the topping and bake the kuchen:
- In a small bowl mix ¼ cup softened butter, ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup flour, ¼ teaspoon cloves, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
- Sprinkle half of the toping over the cake dough. Now spread out 1 cup strawberries and 1 cup rhubarb over the entire surface and sprinkle the remaining topping to cover the kuchen.
- Bake the kuchen for about 30 minutes until the sides are golden. A toothpick test doesn't really work here as the topping and fruit will be rather gooey and will stick to the toothpick making it hard to tell if the cake is done.
- The kuchen can be served right out of the oven, but if you let it sit for two to three hours before serving, the clove flavor becomes perfectly mild and the fruit becomes nice and jam-like. Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated. Delicious for up to 3 days after baking.
- Kuchen is a rather thin cake but delicious in texture and taste. If you want a thicker cake, you can double all of the cake's ingredients (not necessary for the topping). The kuchen will need to be baked for longer. Start at 45-minutes and watch for the sides to turn golden-brown. If the fruit seems to be bubbling too much for the thicker cake, tent loosely with foil at around 30 minutes.
- You may use frozen rhubarb but I would try to use fresh berries whenever possible. Other fruits work great here, too. I have a Peach Kuchen recipe that's incredible. Plums or pears are also delicious.