This Small Batch Peach Kuchen recipe makes 4 individual peach and custard pies. These mini fresh peach Kuchen are made with an enriched soft dough filled with creamy vanilla custard and finished with fresh peach slices. This is a delicious summer treat perfect for dessert or breakfast!
What Is Kuchen
Kuchen is the German word for cake. And the term cake isn’t used so literally as it is often used to describe any sweet dessert. Traditional Kuchen is a hybrid of cake and pie with a creamy custard and fruit filling. It is popular among German communities in the mid-northern states – especially in North and South Dakota (where it happens to be the state dessert!)
Kuchen is humble, with no fancy decorations or ingredients, and is easily prepared with what may already be in your pantry. The pie part of the dessert typically involves an enriched, yeasted dough. Meaning the dough includes sugar, fat, and dairy. And the cake component is a simple vanilla custard with fruit – with peach being a fan favorite.
Small Batch Fresh Peach Kuchen
My experience with Kuchen comes from the desserts – or pies rather – that my Grandmother made. Which makes sense. Grandma was a North Dakotan, a German through and through, and an excellent maker of dough.
Grandma’s Kuchen was always in the form of a pie, with a super soft dough, creamy custard filling, and whatever fruit was in season. More often than not I got to choose from peach, rhubarb or plum. Peach was my favorite, and still is. And this recipe for Mini Peach Kuchen is a tribute to my Grandmother’s recipe. And while it doesn’t hold a candle to the original (because Grandma’s are always better bakers!), I am delighted that I now have my own small batch recipe!
What You Need To Make This Peach Kuchen Recipe
- Fresh Peaches – 2 peaches should be more than enough for this recipe
- All-Purpose Flour
- Instant Yeast – I like to use Instant Yeast more and more lately because I don’t have to take the time to bloom/proof it. Translation – it is easier to use.
- Granulated Sugar
- Eggs – 2 large eggs for the dough and vanilla custard.
- Heavy Cream
- Vanilla Extract
- Unsalted Butter
- Ground Cinnamon
- Turbinado Sugar – Optional for sprinkling over the dough.
- Honey – Optional for brushing the baked dough.
- Stand Mixer with Dough Hook Attachment – This is a sticky dough and I prefer to mix it in a stand mixer. I have found that using a 3-Quart mixing bowl works on my standard size KitchenAid mixer. The smaller bowl is great for small batch recipes.
- Baking Sheet
- Parchment Paper
- Heavy Bottom Saucepan – I think heavy bottom saucepans are a must-have in any baker’s kitchen. They distribute heat more evenly which results in cooking more evenly. All-Clad pans are my favorite. And while they may be on the pricey side, they are worth it.
Tips For Making Small Batch Peach Kuchen
- Use fresh peaches – Fresh fruit in season is always best! Frozen and canned peaches could work as long as they are thawed and drained. Keep in mind, frozen and canned peaches may be mushy when baked.
Enriched Dough Tips
- Use instant yeast – Only because it is easier. Instant yeast is also referred to as ‘Rapid Rise’, ‘Fast-Acting’, or ‘Bread-Machine’ yeast. Instant yeast doesn’t need to be proofed (bloomed) and is be added directly into the dry ingredients. It works just as ‘Active Dry’ yeast does. However, if all you have on hand is active yeast, proof it with the milk that has been warmed.
- Add the yeast on the opposite side of the bowl as the salt – Because we add the yeast directly to the dry ingredients, we still want to be careful that it works. If you add the salt directly on top of the yeast, it will likely retard it. Translation – salt may kill the yeast and the dough will probably not rise.
- Use room temperature butter – We want the butter to mix into the dough evenly. If it is too cold, it will be hard to mix in. Technically speaking, room temperature butter registers at 68F – 70F degrees, and will be slightly ‘cool’ to the touch.
- A stand mixer is a must – If you want to keep things easy! Let the mixer do all of the work to mix the sticky, enriched dough. However, if you don’t have a stand mixer, you can mix the dough by hand and it will take about double the time to knead the dough by hand.
- Knead the dough by hand for a couple minutes – While we let the stand mixer do all of the heavy lifting, I do recommend kneading the dough by hand for a couple minutes on a lightly floured surface. Just until it is smooth and not as sticky.
Vanilla Custard Tips
- Reserve the egg white – Only the egg yolk is used to make the custard, which will leave you with the egg white. Mix the egg white with a splash of water to brush over the dough before baking. This gives the dough a shiny golden crust when baked.
- Strain the custard – This is a must. Since we are not tempering the egg yolk in this recipe, the likelihood of having small custard clumps is higher. The reason we are not tempering the egg yolk is simply because it is easier. Normally I would recommend it, but because we are baking the custard I don’t think it is necessary.
- Cover the custard directly with plastic wrap – This prevents a skin from forming on top of the custard.
Common Questions For Making Peach Kuchen
They will, but I recommend fresh peaches especially in season. If you use frozen peaches, thaw and drain them before baking.
I believe the recipe can be doubled and will still turn out fine. With that, use one packet of yeast – which equals about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons.
I have not tested it, but it should work fine. The dough may not be as rich though, and I recommend 2% or whole milk.
I have not tested it, but you could try it in a 7-Inch pie pan (an 8-Inch may be too big). If making into a single pie, roll the dough gently after the first rise and set it in your pie pan. Let it proof for the second rise, and gently flatten the bottom of the dough before filling it with custard and peaches.
I like to knead by hand because it gives me control of the dough, and I can feel as soon as it is smooth. However, if you want to keep it in the mixer, just keep an eye on it and remove as soon as it feels smooth.
A few things could have happened: 1. Salt was added directly on the yeast, and killed it. 2. The yeast was old/expired. 3. The dough was set in a cool/cold place and it will take longer to rise. 4. The dough just needs more time to sit and rise.
I brushed on a little warmed honey after the kuchen was baked. This is optional and merely for presentation.
More Small Batch Peach Dessert Recipes
- Peaches and Cream Mini Pies
- Peach and Citrus Refresher
- Peach Cupcakes – Gluten Free Small Batch
- Mini Peach Clafoutis
- Peach Mousse Trifle
Small Batch Peach Kuchen (Peach and Custard Pies)
- Stand Mixer with Dough Hook Attachment
- 2 fresh peaches, sliced
- ground cinnamon - to sprinkle over the Kuchen
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
- Turbinado Sugar - optional for sprinkling on top of the dough
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 large egg yolk - reserve egg white for egg wash to brush on the dough
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Slice the peaches about 1/4 inch thick, or however thick you prefer.
- In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the cream. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly combined.
- In the work bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, yeast, and sugar. Add the salt opposite the yeast – adding salt directly on yeast may hinder its effectiveness. Stir with the dough hook attachment.
- Attach the dough hook attachment, and on low speed, add the cream mixture and mix until a dough starts to form. Increase the speed to medium and add the room temperature butter cubes, one at a time. Allow to butter to mix into the dough before adding the next cube.
- Continue to mix the dough on medium speed until it forms a spongy ball on the dough hook – about 4 to 5 minutes. Once the dough has come together on the dough hook, pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until smooth.
- Lightly grease the mixing bowl you used to mix the dough (with cooking spray, neutral oil, or softened butter). Put the dough into the bowl and flip around to coat, cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap then a dish towel. Set in a warm place in your kitchen to proof and rise until it has doubled in size – about 1 – 2 hours.
- While the dough is proofing, make the custard. In a medium saucepan, add the cream, sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolk. Whisk together until combined. Turn on the heat to medium and heat the custard until it starts to thicken and bubble – about 3 – 5 minutes.
- Removed the custard from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and butter until incorporated.
- Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Cover the custard with a piece of plastic wrap directly touching the custard – this prevents a skin from forming. Let cool and sit at room temperature until ready to use.
- Shaping the Dough – After the dough has doubled in size, cut into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball by gathering the edges and pinching together to seal on the bottom of the ball. Gently form into a ball with your hands, and place the seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Loosely cover the baking sheet with a piece of plastic wrap and allow the dough to proof and rise again, for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
- After Second Rise – Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, gently press down on the center of each dough ball to form a well to hold the custard. Leave yourself enough of an edge to make sure the custard stays inside the pies.
- Mix a splash of water with the reserved egg white to make the egg wash. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Optional – Sprinkle Turbinado sugar onto the edges of the dough.
- Fill the wells of the dough with the custard, then top with peach slices. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the custard has set.
- Transfer the mini pies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely and sprinkle with ground cinnamon (optional). The Kuchen are best enjoyed the day they are baked. Enjoy!
- Shiny Crust – Brush a little warmed honey over the dough after it is baked for a shiny appearance. This is optional.
- Serving Size – See FAQ section in the Blog Post for recommendations on doubling the recipe or making this into a single pie.