Grandma Klein

photo taken by jfiess, on April 10, 2011, CC licensing

- 6 cups unsifted flour
- 2-1/4-2-1/2 cup luke-warm milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 oz. fresh yeast
- 1 pound butter
- pinch of salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 pound coarsely chopped walnuts
- 3 cups white raisins
- Light Karo syrup (for glazing after baking)
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- lemon peel from ½ lemon (optional)
- sugar-cinnamon mixture

The yeast was crumbled into small pieces and combined with 1 cup of flour in a large bowl. Enough warm milk (about ½ cup) was added to make a thick paste (if we ran short of milk, we substituted warm water). We then added 1 tablespoon of sugar and mixed it in with a spoon. We covered the bowl with a dish towel and left it unrefrigerated for 45-60 minutes until the dough rose and we saw that the yeast was proofed.

We heated 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups milk to luke-warm. We then uncovered the yeast mixture and added the remaining sugar (1/2 cup minus 1 T.), 2 egg yolks, and ½ teaspoon salt. We beat this well by hand, and gradually added the remaining flour and milk to make a thick sticky batter. We stretched the dough by hand; then lightly dusted it with flour and covered it with waxed paper. We put a towel over the bowl and left it unrefrigerated to rise until the dough pushed towel up (about 60-90 minutes).

When the dough reached 3-4 times its bulk, it was scooped out onto a floured counter or rolling surface. We rolled the dough out into a 16x22 inch rectangle, about ½ inch thick. We sliced ½ pound of butter into pats and placed the slices in three rows covering the middle third of the dough. We then pulled the right side of the dough, stretching it, and folded it over the middle section so that it completely covered all three rows of butter. We then sliced the other ½ pound of butter and placed the pats in three rows over the same place. We stretched the left side of dough and folded it to cover the new butter rows.

We then turned the dough around so that the fold was facing us and rolled it out to 16x22 inches. Again we folded the dough in thirds and turned it so that the fold was facing us. We repeated this a total of three times until all of the ends had been folded in. When completed, we folded the dough into thirds and then in half. We floured the bowl and placed the dough in it; covering it with a towel and refrigerating it for 2-3 hours until it rose.

Using an electric mixer, we beat 4 eggs whites, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the grated lemon peel from ½ lemon (optional) until it was very stiff. We refrigerated it.

We floured the counter and rolled the dough out wide enough (about 15x18 inches) to be cut into three pieces. We cut the dough into three equal pieces, folding each third into thirds, making sure that the rough edge went in the middle. We then put two pieces back in the floured bowl separated by waxed paper, covered and refrigerated it.

We greased the three pans. My grandmother used Mirro aluminum tube pans; each having an 11 cup capacity. Each pan diameter on top was 10-1/2 inches and the tube hole was 4 inches; pan depth was 3 inches.

We sprinkled the counter/rolling surface with flour. Leaving the other 2 pieces covered in refrigerator, we took the first piece of dough and, making sure that the cut edges were on either side, rolled it out into a rectangular shape (approx. 16x18 inches). We smeared one third of the egg whites over the whole piece of dough, and then sprinkled it with the sugar-cinnamon mixture, 1 cup of white raisins, and 1/3 of the walnuts. Starting with the edge closest to us, we folded the dough over and away from us 3-6 times, hand-rolling loosely into a cylinder), rolling ¾ of the way up the dough and leaving a “tail.” We cut the cylinder into 7 equal pieces. One by one we stood each piece of dough in the pan, and we stretched the tail of each to go behind the next two pieces, keeping the spacing as even as possible. We were careful not to place the two ends next to each other. After all the pieces were placed in the pan, we gently used our fingers to stretch back the center and slightly open the tops of each dough piece. We covered the pan with a towel until it rose about an inch (about an hour).

We repeated this process for the next two pieces of dough.

The oven was pre-heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Kuchens were baked for 40-45 minutes. Then they were cooled for 15 minutes and removed from their pans onto plates or aluminum covered circles. When they were completely cool, we basted all of the plain dough parts (including inside and outside) with Karo syrup that had been slightly warmed.*
*If we were freezing the Kuchen, we skipped using the Karo syrup until we defrosted it. To defrost, we removed the Kuchen from the freezer 6 hours prior to serving it. We then basted it with Karo syrup. We pre-heated our oven to 400 degrees prior to our meal; then turned the oven off and put the Kuchen in for 20 minutes.

Sephardic or Askhenazi