I guess I have turned into a minimalist which is an interesting experience as I am actually a collector. All of our stuff is on a boat to Germany and I am surprised about how freeing and simple it feels to have almost nothing. We have a set of 5 plates, 5 bowls and 5 cups. We have some random silverware. We have a pot and a frying pan. And a spatula and a knife and a cutting board. And one sheet pan. That's it!  

But I want to bake! My boy's birthday is coming up and I figured I could probably pull off making a classic German Streuselkuchen with a strawberry filling. It has a yeast dough bottom and I won't need anything but the pot, a small cup and my hands to make it.  I have a knife so I can prepare the filling. And it has a crumbly top that can be mixed on the counter and chilled on a simple plate. 

German Streuselkuchen is baked on a sheet pan. It is quite flat, the crumb topping makes up about 50% of the height and it is usually filled with tart fruit such as apples, sour cherries, rhubarb or plumbs. But it can also have no fruit filling. My beloved Aunt Heiderose made the very best Streuselkuchen which had the most amazing and buttery crumble top. And she would always make extra topping that us kids would eat out of the bowl sitting on the steps of the front porch.   

For the dough

  • 4 cups all purpose flour (500 g) 
  • packet of dry or fresh yeast
  • a scant 1/2 cup sugar (80 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (180 ml) 
  • 1 stick of butter (100 g) cut into cubes 
  • a pinch of salt

For the filling

  • 2 pounds of strawberries
  • 1/2 pound of rhubarb (optional)
  • 6-8 tablespoons of sugar

For the crumble topping

  • 1 cup of soft butter (two sticks or 225g)
  • 1 cup of sugar  (225g)
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour (250g)
  • 1/2 cup of almond slivers
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt

Dissolve the dry yeast in a bit of warm water to activate it. Or, if you are using fresh yeast, sift the flour into your mixing bowl, press a little hole into the top of the flour, crumble the yeast into the hole and sprinkle the yeast with a little sugar to activate it. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, gently heat the milk together with the butter in a heavy saucepan to lukewarm, just until the butter is melted. Add the sugar, eggs and salt to the flour in your mixing bowl, together with the yeast. This is kind of a sticky yeast dough. I usually use my electric mixer for this dough fitted with the pastry hook. I set the mixer on low speed and add the milk in a slow stream until the dough is well combined. Then I set the speed of the mixer to medium high and let the machine work the dough for a couple of minutes. But this time I just combined the dough on the counter kneading for a little while before scraping it together to form it into a ball with floured hands. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

If you are using rhubarb, peel it and cut it into thin slices. Sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of sugar and let it stand to release some of the juices.

Prepare the crumble by kneading together all ingredients. The crumble is traditionally made of one part butter, one part sugar and 2 parts flour. Interestingly I used a cup to measure because I do not have a scale and I realized later that the ratio is obviously completely off if I convert the cup measurements to grams. But since American butter has less fat than German butter and American palates are generally a little sweeter than what Germans prefer, this actually produced the desired result! Chill the crumble for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease the sheet pan with butter. Use a light touch to roll out the yeast dough or just stretch and gently press it into the sheet pan. Clean the strawberries and cut them into medium slices, about 1/4". Sprinkle the strawberry slices and the rhubarb (omitting the juice) all over the sheet pan, leaving about 1/4" of the edge. Finally sprinkle the crumble all over the fruit.  

Bake for 45 minutes or until the crumble is lightly brown and the yeast dough bottom is done. Turn off the oven and let the pie cool in the oven for about half an hour with the door propped open.

This pie tastes delicious with a dollop of whipped cream.

But Lukas wanted something with more chocolate and more vanilla-custard-butter cream...