South Dakota - Kuchen

South Dakota designated the Kuchen (pronounced "koo-kin") as the official state dessert in 2000 as a nod to the rich cultural heritage and traditional foods of their German ancestors.  The name Kuchen comes from the German word for cake and comes in many forms ranging from a streusel like coffee-cake to this version with a shortbread crust, cream cheese filling and fruit topping! 

Kuchen can be made with any type of fruit but I chose a recipe that called for apples.

for the crust 

for the filling

for the topping

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, at room temperature 

3 granny smith apples
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar 


  • preheat oven to 450 degrees 
  • lightly grease and flour 9 x 13 pan
  • place flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl or food processor and mix to combine
  • add vanilla and butter a little at a time and mix until dough comes together
  • press into baking pan and bake until slightly golden but not brown (7 - 9 minutes depending on oven) 
  • lower oven temperature to 400 degrees 
  • make filling: mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in mixer and beat until creamy
  • add the egg, mix to combine and pour over the cooled crust
  • mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl
  • thinly slice the apples and place on top of the filling in two or three columns
  • sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake until firm and rich brown, (approximately 30 minutes, depending on oven) 

This Kuchen recipe is great as a dessert or breakfast / brunch treat! 


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