The Location: De Smet, South Dakota
The picture isn't much to look at, I'll admit, but I picked this town for a reason. A very good one, to me, at least. This town is on my "bucket list" of places to see. If you don't know off the top of your head why, I'll explain...
As of the 2010 census, the population of De Smet was 1,089 people. 98.8% of them are white, and 0.6% are Native American. The unemployment rate is 1.1%, with an average income of $26,042.
Dakota was made a territory in 1868. It is the subject of a song featured in the 1960's Disney movie, The One and Only Original Family Band. If you haven't seen this movie before, you should. It's fun. Watch it around Election Day...
This song was actually in the running to be named the official state song for South Dakota. It's quite lovely, I think.
De Smet was "platted", the step prior to incorporation, in 1880. It was named after Father Pierre De Smet, a Jesuit missionary who worked with Native Americans during his career. The first train came through the town in 1880.
You're probably saying to yourself, wow, there's really not much to this town, why ever did you choose it? Well...now we come to the reason I chose it. Those of you familiar with the works may already know the name, but in case you are not, I will tell you. De Smet was the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder. She came with her family in 1879 at the age of 12 and would end up living there for the rest of her life. Three of her books: The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years, all take place in De Smet. And a fourth book, By the Shores of Silver Lake, takes place nearby. Laura met and married her husband Almanzo Wilder there, and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, a famous writer and journalist in her own right, was born and raised there. The town has many tourist attractions you can visit, including the farms and houses they lived in. I have always wanted to visit this town because I am a life-long fan of the Little House books, and the tv show. Some day I will visit here.
The Food: Sour Cream Peach Kuchen
Kuchen is the official state food of South Dakota, and for good reason. It's quite fantastic. It's also because there are a lot of German immigrants to the state and this is a German dessert. One of the best gifts immigrants to our country bring to us, is their food. That is one thing I am learning more and more with each week of this project. Some people might feel threatened by immigrants, but I think we can all agree that we all eat better by having them here.
This dish is dedicated to my co-worker Tanya, who recommended I look into it. I'm glad I did because it is amazing! It turns out I have several recipes in my collection, but I've never made any of them before. They all had ingredients that were out of season, but one of them had an economical alternative, so I chose that one. Peaches are not in season yet, and frozen cost so much money for the amount I needed that I turned to canned peaches. Yes, I used peaches from a can, and I lived to tell the tale. I try to avoid corn syrup as much as possible, so the idea of using peaches that are soaking in it was gross to me, but I rinsed them off very carefully and I think it kept the corn syrup to a minimum. The recipe is from the Taste of Home magazine, February/March 2001 edition. I will write it out as it was originally written, but add my own changes to it in parenthesis.
Sour Cream Peach Kuchen
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided (I used 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce instead)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup cold butter
2 cans (29 oz. each) sliced peaches, drained or 13 small fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 egg yolks
2 cups (16oz) sour cream
2-3 Tbsp. sugar (I used 1 Tbsp.)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
In a bowl, combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into the bottom and one inch up the sides of a greased 13"x9"x2" baking dish.
Arrange peaches over crust. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar(This is where I used the applesauce); sprinkle over peaches. (I mixed them in a bowl with the applesauce and cinnamon to make sure it was all very well combined and then poured them over the crust.) Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine egg yolks and sour cream. Spread evenly over the peaches. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top.
Bake 30-35 minutes longer or until golden. Serve warm or cold. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Yield: 12 servings
This was good warm last night but it was even better this morning cold. The crust is basically a shortbread. When you make it you will think you're doing something wrong because you're adding no liquid to it. But this isn't a pastry, so resist that instinct to add liquid and stick to the recipe. The peaches will add some moisture to it and the butter will melt into it to hold it all together. The sour cream/egg yolk topping is new to me but quite a revelation. It has a cheesecake quality to it but without using cream cheese. This is a wonderful surprise to somebody who is lactose intolerant. I can eat certain brands of sour cream without issue, but cream cheese I can only eat one particular brand that is very expensive, which means that cheesecake is no longer possible for me. This was a very fun treat.
This was the first time I have made something that turned out exactly as the picture looked. I was excited to see that it was just like it should be. I have at least two other kuchen recipes and I might have to try them out this summer when stone fruits are in season.
I would say this recipe was pretty easy to make. Somebody who doesn't have a lot of baking experience will be able to make it without much trouble. I would recommend everybody try this sometime. You won't regret it! The most dangerous part of it all, though, is that I am off work this week so I have nobody to eat all the leftovers except myself...And let's be honest, I'm probably going to eat it all!