KUCHEN (SWEET GERMAN YEAST BREAD)
- 1 pkg. dry yeast
- 2 Tbsp. lukewarm water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- Nut Filling:
- 2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, hickory nuts, or hazelnuts
- 1 cup golden raisins
Dissolve the yeast in the water.
Scald the milk, and pour it into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and sugar, and stir until the butter is melted. Beat in the eggs and yolk. When the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add the dissolved yeast. Mix in the salt and 4 cups of the flour, 2 cups at a time.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead, adding a little extra flour if needed if the dough feels too sticky. Continue to knead until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic, 2 minutes.
Put the dough in a greased bowl, turning it to coat the surface. (This prevents the top from crusting over.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, place it in a warm spot, and leave it until the dough has doubled in bulk, 1 1/4 hours.
When the dough has risen, it may be punched down and completed, or it may be covered and set in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. (It is easier to work with a cold dough.)
When you are ready to make the kuchen, remove the dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it for a second or two, then divide it in half. Roll each half into a rectangle 1-inch thick.
Fill the kuchen: Brush the dough with the butter. Stir together the cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle the dough with the nuts, raisins, and cinnamon sugar. Press the fruit and nuts well into the dough.
Roll each rectangle up tightly like a jelly roll, tuck the ends under, and place them in 2 greased standard (9-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 3-inch) loaf pans. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and leave them in a warm place until the dough has doubled and springs back at once when lightly touched, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the loaves until golden and the bread sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckle, about 45 minutes. Turn the loaves out onto a rack and allow them to cool before serving. Makes 2 loaves