Kugen Is My New Clafouti

Last spring, while writing The Little Women Cookbook, I dove deep into the realm of 19th-century American cooking. While the book is finished and being printed as I write this, I continue to seek out and fall in love with heirloom American recipes.

They aren’t just good for a trip down nostalgia lane. They’re good, period.

Here’s one recipe that I recently wrote about in a recent issue of dsm magazine. Though it didn’t make it into my book (this pie is more early-20th century than Civil War era), it fits into the spirit of gratifying, simple-yet-splendid food from years gone by.

This Berry Kugen is a century-old recipe of my friend Vicki Goldsmith, a retired school-teacher who was once named Iowa Teacher of the Year. Vicki got the recipe from her farmwife-grandmother, Laura Keck.

The dessert, a fruit-and-custard pie, was originally the recipe of Laura Keck’s mother-in-law, Manno, who hailed from Germany. Goldsmith guesses that the pie was a “farmwife’s last resort.”

Last night I made this with dark sweet cherries and blueberries. Divine.

“It was likely something my great-grandmother came up with when she didn’t have quite enough fruit to make a double-crust fruit pie,” Goldsmith says. She estimates that the pie first appeared on her family’s table in 1919, when Laura Keck married Vicki’s grandfather.

Vicki’s bright fruit-filled, sweet-and-tangy pie is a revelation. Read all about it — and get the recipe — on the dsm Magazine website.

P.S.: I just made it again last night — with sweet red cherries and blueberries — and it was splendid. Enjoy!

P.P.S: Curious about my new cookbook? Find out more, here.

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