18 March 2012

Crumbly pastries – ‘Streuselküchle’

Streuselküchle are only one type of that great institution in the Swabian region of south-west Germany: Süsse Stückle, translated as ‘sweet pieces’. Süsse Stückle come in a large variety of shapes and flavours and they are sold in every bakery. Other typical examples of Süsse Stückle are the Swabian twirls and custard twirls I wrote about previously. The custom in most households in south-west Germany, I think, is to purchase Süsse Stückle in a bakery for afternoon coffee if there isn’t any time to bake a cake at home. At least this is what happened when I was a child. For some reason, I really felt like eating a Streuselküchle, or crumbly pastry, last night, but as I do not have access to a German bakery I had no choice but to make them myself. The Streuselküchle is an extremely popular example of the Süsse Stückle, consisting of a yeast-dough base and topped with buttery pastry crumble (it is also a rather unkind name for calling a spotty teenager). The recipe might sound a bit dry, but these pastries are delicious (especially fresh) with a cup of coffee. The trick is to cram as much crumble on each piece as you possibly can. Commercial bakeries these days all tend to cover the Streuselküchle (and indeed most other Süsse Stückle) with a thick layer of icing. For my liking this is too sweet and really not necessary. My father’s theory is that this is done only so the Streuselküchle can be sold for longer with ascorbic acid added to the icing as a preservative. He is probably right, so I tend to stick with the traditional version without the icing.

Variation and improvisation on the Streuselküchle, however, is very possible. The picture above shows the most basic version, consisting only of yeast dough and crumble. The picture below includes a thin layer of vanilla custard under the crumble (the same used in the custard twirl recipe) and I also added a few frozen raspberries. In summer, other soft fruit (especially apricots, red currants or blueberries) tastes excellent in these pastries, or a spoonful of jam can also be added.

This recipe makes about 16 Streuselküchle, about 10 cm each in diameter.

For the yeast-dough base:

200 ml warm milk
100g melted butter
20 g fresh yeast (or one sachet dry)
500 g plain flour
80 g sugar
1 egg

For the crumble topping:

170 g butter
150 g sugar
250 g plain flour
Seeds from one vanilla pod, or some vanilla extract:

Optional: vanilla custard (half the recipe of the ones used for the custard twirls is enough); berries or other soft fruit (frozen or tinned is fine).

Mix the warm milk with the melted butter and dissolve the yeast in this mixture. In a bowl, combine the flour with the sugar. Pour the milk mixture on top of the flour and leave the yeast to activate for about 30 minutes. Then add the egg and knead patiently until you have a soft ball of dough. If it is sticky after kneading for several minutes, add a bit more flour. Cover and leave to rise for about 1 hour. After one hour, stretch and fold the dough and leave to rest for another 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make the crumble. Combine all dry ingredients, add the soft butter (or melted butter) and mix until you have coarse crumbs.

Divide the yeast dough into about 16 pieces. Leave the pieces to rest for a couple of minutes, then roll out into round shapes. If you are making the plain Streuselküchle press a generous amount of crumble on top of the dough. Leave to rise for about 10 minutes then bake in the preheated oven at 200 degrees centigrade for about 20 minutes (the yeast dough should be nice and golden, the crumble topping still light). If you are using fruit or a custard filling add this before you put on the crumble. A spoonful of custard spread thinly on the dough is enough. Bake as above.

If you like it really sweet you can cover the Streuselküchle with icing (icing sugar mixed with a few spoons of water or lemon juice) when they have cooled down. The Streuselküchle should be eaten within a day or two, but they can also be frozen.

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