Confession Time

I have a cookbook addiction. I love cookbooks. I check them out from the public library and read them cover to cover. I can come up with any excuse to buy a new one.  I have even joined book of the month clubs solely devoted to cookbooks. When we made our decision to move to North Africa, of course I had to buy new cookbooks. I purchased books on the cuisine of the region, Mediterranean cooking, and for good measure a few new baking books. I might have also bought one (or two) from that cute Tyler Florence.

Needless to say when we met my brother in law for lunch at The Grand Central Bakery in Seattle, and I saw that they had a cookbook for sale, and my brother in law said that he had purchased it recently and it was really good, I had to have it. See, I have a problem. Is there a program for this?

Not only does he have impeccable cookbook taste, he also espouses the philosophy that you should support your local bakery. In this economy we all have to do our part you know.  He's such a champ.

I think I need to hang out with him more often.

For those of you who live under a rock and haven't visited The Grand Central Bakery, GO! They have several locations in the Seattle area and serve wonderful food. For lunch Andy and I split their turkey sandwich. It could have been Ho Hum, but it was all tarted up with cranberry chutney and served on their house made Como bread.  My brother in law had the Grilled Pimento Cheese sandwich from their specials board which he also gave a resounding 2 thumbs up. I like that they do a bag lunch, which includes a sandwich, bag of chips and a cookie to eat in the cafe or take back to your office.  Personally I would grab one and head to Golden Gardens for a picnic but I doubt the food would last the drive.

I didn't even wait until we got home to start browsing through the book. It has gorgeous photos, great stories, and inspiring recipes.  The girls and I are headed over to a friends for breakfast this morning and I made a kuchen recipe from the book.  The recipe suggests using black cherries and raspberries, but I had some Yakima Valley Nectarines on hand and used those instead.  The house smells wonderful, perfumed with the scent of brown sugar, yeast, and nectarines.  I can't wait to give it a taste.

In fact, I would only be doing my duty as a good friend to have a small sample now to make sure that the kuchen tastes good enough for breakfast. Small sacrifices, sigh.

Nectarine Kuchen
Adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book

This yeasted breakfast cake takes to any fruit that you wish to top it with. The book suggests a combination of Black Cherries and Raspberries, but you could use any seasonal fruit and get great results.
Because this cake relies on yeast for leavening, timing kuchen so that it can be served for breakfast straight from the oven can be tricky.
The bakery says that the kuchen is equally delicious with a lemon or vanilla glaze, included recipes for both.

1 ½ cups whole milk
½ cup packed brown sugar (the recipe calls for light brown, I only had dark brown sugar on hand and I liked the deeper caramel taste with the nectarines I used)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 eggs lightly beaten
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ pound sliced ripe, slightly firm Nectarines
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ cup Turbinado, or coarse sugar
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter melted

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar (aka icing sugar or 10X)
2 tablespoons heavy cream or half and half
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Lemon Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lightly grease and flour a 9X13 inch baking pan

For the batter:
Gently heat the milk, brown sugar, and butter in a small saucepan; it should only feel warm to the touch, do not simmer or boil. When the butter has almost melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the yeast. Let this mixture sit until bubbles form and the mixture appears to be expanding.

While waiting for the yeast to bloom, in a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour and salt. When the yeast mixture is ready pour the eggs and yeast mixture over the flour and stir gently to combine with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Mix until just incorporated.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap.

At this stage you, if you want to bake the kuchen right away set it aside to rest in a warm spot until doubled in size, about one hour. If you want to bake it later put the baking pan in the refrigerator covered for up to 8 hours.

To Bake the Kuchen:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Sprinkle the nectarines with the cinnamon and granulated sugar, stir well to combine and set aside. When the dough has doubled in height, evenly distribute the fruit over it, and then sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar and melted butter. Bake the kuchen for 30 minutes, rotate the pan and lower the temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the cake should begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Make the glaze:
While the kuchen is baking, make the glaze of your choice by whisking all of the ingredients together until smooth.  Drizzle the glaze over the warm kuchen and serve immediately.

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