Fruit Kuchens (German Custard & Fruit Tart)

Mixed Berry Kuchen

Mixed Berry Kuchen

By Cat, Sept 2008 (Photo, right, by Cat)

Kuchen is a German name for coffee cake.  I first learned of this wonderful treat from the Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown (1). He offers two style of Kuchen:  One style, the Fruit Kuchen (presented here) is tarte-like, with a crust on the bottom and a layer of fruit and custard on top. The other is Butter Kuchen which is yeast-risen and cake-like in texture with cinnamon streusel on top.

Another style is the filled kuchen, which is cake-like in texture (either yeast- or soda-risen), with a filling in the middle, such as the Plum or Apricot Kuchen which is made in layers, with fruit in the middle. Or the Cinnamon-Coffe Kuchen which has a fruit & coffee layer in the middle.

Wikipedia has a good discussion of the many types of Kuchens (2).

Fruit Kuchen, presented on this page, is great when fruit is in season. You can use many different types of fruit, singly or in combination; I’ve never tried it with apples but I think that would be delicious, too.

More about coffee cakes

All coffee cakes are intended to be served with coffee or tea, perhaps as part of a Sunday or holiday brunch, a luncheon dessert, or a mid-afternoon “tea.”  They are also great tucked into a child’s lunch bag.

While coffee cakes are traditionally sweet, I prefer not to use refined sugar in my baked goods, so instead I use stevia, raw honey and date “sugar”.  The latter is simply ground dried dates, and makes a great substitute for brown sugar in crumb toppings. Another choice for crumb toppings in Rapadura sugar (unrefined sugarcane juice), but of course, it is real sugar.

Crust/Pastry Options

Fruit Kuchen (Peach, Plum, Apricot, Cherry, Berry, or Mixed-Fruit)

This is a layered coffee cake, more like a tarte than a cake, with a layer of fruit and a layer of custard. Ii’ve adapted it from the Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown (see my Beloved Cookbooks for more about this book)

Fruits: you want juicy fruit(s) for this treat; apples don’t fall into that category.

You can use sliced peaches, apricots or plums or a mix of these fruits; I prefer fresh ripe fruits to frozen. Or use cherries, or berries. My favorite is a mixture of fruits, which is my favorite. To remove skins from fresh peaches/apricots/plums, dip in boiling water for 10 – 15 seconds, then peel.  If peaches are not so ripe, or skins are hard to remove, leave longer in the boiling water. If your peaches are quite ripe, use the lesser amount of stevia or Rapadura; if they are not so ripe, use the higher amount.

When those fruits are not in season, I use frozen berries – all one kind or a mix.

Sweetener: The original recipe calls for 1 cup brown sugar, with 2 Tbsp being used in the crust and the remainder sprinkled over the peaches.  Date sugar can certainly be used in the crust, or you can use stevia.  But date sugar doesn’t work well with the peaches because it doesn’t dissolve or caramelize.  So for the sprinkle over the peaches, use either:

  • stevia (which will dissolve into the peach juices), or
  • Rapadura or white cane sugar (which will caramelize).

Crust: The original crust does not include the addition of water – just the dry ingredients and butter, then you press it into the pan. Nor is it a pre-soak crust.

My preference is to make it with yogurt pre-soak crust, which is then pressed into the pan after the overnight soak; it has a texture similar to a crust made with ground cookies, and is what I use for my Tarte aux Poires. Or you could use a grain-free, gluten-free option. Or use sprouted wheat pastry flour or sprouted spelt flour for the original crust (I’ve not yet tried the sprouted flour option).

If you like a bit of nuttyness in your crust, or just want to cut down on grains, try my Spelt/Wheat, Quinoa & Almond Meal Kuchen Crust, Presoak Method.

Serves 9 – 12 (using 9″ x 13″ pan). See below for adaptations for different size pans (6″ x 8″ pan, 7½” round, 9″ square and 9″ pie), and for variations and testing of this delicious desert.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Original Crust (adapted from Tassajara recipe; see also Crust Options, above)
  • 2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • scant ⅛ tsp stevia extract powder (or 2 Tbsp date sugar)
  • ½ cup + 1-2 Tbsp butter
  • Fruit Filling:
  • 12 skinned peach halves or 2 packages frozen peach slices
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ – ½ tsp stevia extract powder (or ⅓ – ¾ cup Rapadura sugar)
  • Custard:
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream or sour cream
  • Equipment:
  • medium bowl
  • pastry cutter
  • small bowl
  • 9 x 13 glass cake pan.


  1. Preheat oven to 4000 F.  Butter baking pan.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and stevia (or date sugar).  Cut in butter until it looks like coarse meal.
  3. Press firmly into buttered baking pan.  Arrange peaches on surface.  Mix remaining stevia (or Rapadura) with cinnamon and sprinkle over the fruit.
  4. Bake 15 minutes; remove cake and lower heat to 3250 F.
  5. Beat eggs with cream and honey; pour over the top, and bake an additional 40 minutes at the lowered temperature, or until peaches are soft and custard has thickened.
  6. Let cool a bit before cutting.

See ‘Testing’ below

Ingredients for different size pans

Note: the method is the same as above for all sizes; only the amounts of ingredients change.

6″ x 8″ rectangular pyrex pan (with red lid for storage)

  • Pastry:
  • I recommend my Yogurt Crust (12-hour presoak) for 6″ x8″ pan
  • Fruit:
  • 1 c frozen or fresh fruits, berries
  • ¼ – ½ t ground cinnamon (I think ¼ is better, based on first test)
  • ⅛ – scant ¼ t stevia powder extract (I think scant ¼ t is better, based on first test) (or ½ c / ⅔ c sugar)
  • Custard:
  • 2 egg yolks + 1 – 2 whites, as needed (for 12/9 testing I used most of the 2 whites)
  • 1¼ t maple syrup (grade B) or raw, local honey
  • 3 – 5 T real cream (heavy) – amount depends on how much fruit you use; when it was packed with frozen berries, I needed 5 Tbsp total (see 12/9 testing)
  • Equipment:
  • 9″ square baking pan.
  • small mixing bowl
  • pastry cutter

9″ square Kuchen

When I’m avoiding grains, I use this smaller version with an almond/coconut pastry in my 9” square baking pan (see photo, above), but as with the larger version, any of the crust options can be used.

  • Pastry:
  • I recommend my Yogurt Crust (12-hour presoak) for 9″  square pan
  • Fruit Filling:
  • ⅔ bag frozen or 1 ½ cups fresh fruit (e.g., 4 large apricots)
  • ⅔ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp stevia or ¼ cup white or dehydrated cane sugar
  • Custard
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk,
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • ⅔ cup cream
  • Equipment:
  • 9″ square baking pan.
  • medium mixing bowl
  • pastry cutter

7½” round Kuchen

This is for my ceramic 7½” round pan; makes 6 – 8 servings.

This version uses  my yogurt presoak crust for 7½” round pie pan; see Yogurt Crust (Wheat or Spelt) for more detail. I’ve not yet tested this size of filling, but crust size has been tested.

  • Pastry:
  • I recommend my Yogurt Crust (12-hour presoak) for 7½” round pie pan
  • Crust: (adapted from Tassajara recipe)
  • ⅝ cups whole wheat or spelt flour, (or ½ cup whole, 2 Tbsp white)
  • ¼ tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • ¼ tsp Rapdura or white cane sugar
  • 4½ Tbsp real, unsalted butter (1 Tbsp melted + 3½ Tbsp cold)
  • 2 tsp plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 1 – 1½ Tbsp warm water
  • Fruit Filling:
  • less than ½ bag frozen or ¾ – 1 cup fresh fruit
  • ¼-  ⅜ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch stevia
  • ⅜ tsp sugar
  • Custard
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1¼ tsp maple syrup
  • about 6 Tbsp cream
  • Equipment:
  • 7½” round baking pan
  • small mixing bowl
  • pastry cutter

9″ round Kuchen

Makes 8 – 10 servings

I’ve not yet tested this size of filling, but crust size has been tested.

  • Pastry:
  • I recommend my Yogurt Crust (12-hour presoak) for 9″ round cake or pie pan
  • Crust: 
  • 1¼ cups whole wheat or spelt flour, or 1 cup whole, ¼ cup white
  • ⅜ tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • ⅜ tsp Rapdura or white cane sugar
  • 6 Tbsp real, unsalted butter (2 Tbsp melted + 4 Tbsp cold)
  • 1 Tbsp plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 1-2 Tbsp warm water
  • Fruit Filling:
  • ½ bag frozen or 1⅛ cups fresh fruit
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch stevia
  • 2 – Tbsp Rapdura or white cane sugar
  • Custard
  • 2 egg yolks + a bit of white if needed,
  • 1½ tsp maple syrup
  • ½ cup cream
  • Equipment:
  • 9″ round baking pan
  • medium mixing bowl
  • pastry cutter

Fruit Kuchen, with Almond Crust (Grain- & Gluten-Free)

At the moment (July-August, 2012) I’m avoiding all high-carb seeds, which includes true grains and pseudo grains (like quinoa, buckwheat etc). But nuts are OK. So I tried this dessert using an Almond Meal & Coconut Flour Pie Crust. I only used half of the mix, because I made a smaller, 9×9 baking pan (instead of 9×13); I put the remaining half in the fridge for later.

The first experiment used apricots and serviceberries for the fruit. It was good but the crust absorbed moisture from the fruit or custard, making it too soft.

  1. Arranged 5 peeled apricots, cut into wedges and a handful of service berries over pastry in 9”x9” baking pan; sprinkled with ⅔ tsp cinnamon, ⅛ tsp stevia and ½ tsp sugar mix, then baked 15 minutes at 400° F. Lower oven to 325°, add custard (1 egg + 1 yolk, 2 tsp maple syrup, and ½ cup cream/milk mix); and baked 40 minutes.
  2. Bake in preheated oven 12 – 15 minutes.
  3. Cool before filling.

The second experiment used the reserved nut crust mix that was saved in the fridge for about a week. I made this in a 9×7 baking pan (so was a bit thicker than before), and used peaches and blueberries for the fruit. This was much better – in fact, it’s almost better than with the spelt-yogurt crust I’ve been using (recipe above). I don’t know if it was better because of the long rest in the fridge, or because it baked a couple minutes longer before I added the custard.

  1. Arranged 2 peeled peaches, cut into wedges and a handful of blueberries over pastry in 9”x7” baking pan; sprinkled with ⅔ tsp cinnamon, ⅛ tsp stevia and ½ tsp sugar mix, then baked 18 minutes. Lower oven to 325°, add custard (1 egg + 1 yolk, 2 tsp maple syrup, and ½ cup cream/milk mix); and baked 40 minutes at 400° F.
  2. Bake in preheated oven 12 – 15 minutes.
  3. Cool before filling.


Testing original Tassajara crust

Testing 10/15/08:  I made this using fresh plums instead of peaches.  Used stevia in the crust, and maple syrup in the custard.  Forgot to sprinkle filling with cinnamon/sweetener, and forgot to bake the crust and filling before adding the custard.  Sooo, I mixed the cinnamon with about 3 Tbsp Rapadura sugar (plums are sweeter than peaches, so don’t need so much sugar) and sprinkled that over the custard and then baked the whole thing for about 10 minutes at 400 (didn’t want to overheat the custard), and additional 40 minutes at 325.  Turned out great that way!

A second testing in November 2008, following the original instructions more closely, also turned out great.

Testing 6/21/10: This time I’m trying a new crust for this dish. I’m wanting to avoid wheat, and use pre-soaked grains as much as possible, so I made Yogurt Crust-II with Spelt, half recipe, with mixture of spelt, oat and barley flours. It rested on counter for 24 hours. But instead of rolling it out, I pressed it into a 10″ pie pan. It’s more moist than the original kuchen crust, but spread easily into and up sides of pan. Covered with layer of blueberries, sprinkled with sweetened cinnamon and from this point followed the recipe, using half the amount of custard ingredients. Result: Baked nicely, easy to cut after cooling. Crust tastes great, and is slightly crumbly like the original crust. Filling is as good as it always is. 

This was so good, that next I’ll try making the original kuchen crust but using presoak the flour in yogurt/water mix, and without the baking powder (which would otherwise neutralize the acidic yogurt needed for the presoak).  See next.

Testing presoaked yogurt crust

6/30/2010:  I sifted 1 cup whole spelt, ½ cup oat and ½ cup barley flours with ½ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp stevia (no baking powder because it would detract from the acid in the yogurt needed for the soak). I mixed in ⅓ cube of melted butter (1/6 cup), then put in remaining ⅔ cube cold butter. Very buttery. Then I mixed 2 Tbsp yogurt and 2 Tbsp cold water and worked that into the dough. It was too wet, so I added more barley flour until the texture felt right (a little more than ¼ cup). Formed into ball, covered with waxed paper, and let it rest on counter overnight. Next day, pressed it into pan. Then followed recipe as written.

Result: crust is very similar to original crust in texture and taste. Will be my first choice method from now on. However, to avoid adding more flour, I now mix 1 Tbsp yogurt and 1 Tbsp water for the soak. If using wheat, more moisture would be needed; you could try the 2 Tbsp each water and yogurt.

Testing 1/29/2013: I’ve been having trouble with this crust recently – it’s been too dry and wouldn’t form a ball. So this time I used 3 Tbsp melted butter (as b4) and 7 Tbsp cold butter (10 Tbsp total). Used 1 Tbsp yogurt and 2 Tbsp water. Used 1 ½ cups whole spelt, ¼ cup whole barley and ¼ cup whole kamut flour, plus stevia and salt as original. Felt much better and actually formed a ball readily. Filled with peaches (⅔ bag, frozen) and raspberries (⅓ bag, frozen), which was delicious. but next time I’d use more berries, fewer peaches.

Testing pan sizes

Testing 12/8-9/19 for 6″x8″  rectangular pyrex pan: Made yogurt presoak crust for 6×8 pan; let rest 12/8, 11 AM – 12/9, 6 PM, then pressed into pan. Prepared fruit: used 2/3 of a bag of frozen mixed berries (enough for a single layer of fruit), 1/2 t cinnamon and scant ¼ stevia extract powder. Sprinkled cinnamon/stevia mix on fruit scattered over crust, and baked 15 min in preheated 400°F oven. OOPS, forgot that baking time. Whipped together 2 egg yolks, most of the whites, 1¼ tsp maple syrup and 4 Tbsp cream. Reduced oven to 325°F, and poured egg mixture over the fruit; not enough custard so trickled some cream over and mixed with a toothpick before putting into oven at 7 PM. Checked after 40 min but not quite done; another 5 min and it passed the knife test – total 45 min. Removed to rack at 7:45 PM to cool a bit before serving. Result: Very good, but the added cream wasn’t mixed well with the custard. Also perhaps a bit too much cinnamon; next time, use 1/4 tsp.


  1. Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Epse Brown

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