I love foraging. It runs in the family. My 15 months old niece is an incredibly picky eater. She doesn’t eat vegetables or rice or yoghurt. She will also not touch a banana or a store-bought apple. But anything she can pick herself or see being picked is another story. Many times a day she checks the tiny patch of alpine strawberries and the raspberry bushes in the garden for any fruits that might have ripened in the last 2 hours. And she goes mad for wild blueberries. So instead of taking aimless walks, we go pick some tiny, sweet wild cherries or walk to the huge pear tree next to the small church in the middle of the village.
As someone who gardens a lot, I know exactly how much work is involved in the process of growing fruit. Therefore I can’t resist wild fruit that often tastes better than the cultivated variety and is yours for the picking. Amazing, don’t you think?
Apart from eating lots of the fruit au naturel, I have made preserves to keep a piece of summer for the winter. I have also made the cherry bubble cake with wild cherries. The tiny fruits were impossible to pit, so we turned it into a game: how many pits in your piece of cake? (My son won with 15 pits, but some cheating might have been involved). But the best thing: I made this blueberry kuchen.
I have shared a recipe for this kuchen before, with plums. But since the one thing our family agrees on is that the blueberry version is the best (and probably the best cake in the world too), I had to post it. My sister was not there when I made the cake and she considered it the height of cruelty when I showed her the pictures.
As in many Czech sweets, the dough is yeasted and not overly sweet. The blueberries aren’t sweetened either, the sweetness is mainly provided by the generous amount of streusel topping. There’s a pretty heigh fruit to dough ratio. The blueberries are the stars.
The amount of dough is enough for a standard-sized baking sheet, but bacause my parents’ holiday house lacks a standard-sized oven, I made a large round one and a small square cake this time.
Blueberry kuchen with streusel topping
(My mother copied this recipe from an old Czech cookbook, but unfortunately does not remember which, so I can’t properly credit it)
¼ l (1 cup) milk, luke warm
40 g fresh yeast or 2 ½ tsp dry yeast
60 g (1/3 cup) sugar
500 g (3 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
90 g (3 oz) butter, melted
2 egg yolks
750 g blueberries, preferably wild
120 g (1 stick) cold butter, cut in 1 cm dice
120 g (2/3 cups) sugar
200 g (1 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1 egg white
To make the dough, mix flour with salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk in which you have dissolved the yeast. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast bubbles up. Add the melted butter and yolks and mix everything together. The dough is too sticky to mix by hand, so use a wooden spoon to beat it until it becomes smooth and springy to the touch. Gently pressing with your hands, spread the dough evenly on a buttered sheet. Let it rise for 30 to 45 minutes in a warm draught-free room. Meanwhile, make the streusel topping: mix flour and sugar in a bowl, then add the diced butter. Using your fingertips, rub everything together until it resembles breadcrumbs. Keep the streusel in the fridge until needed.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (360 F).
Top the dough with the blueberries, leaving an edge of about 2 cm. Cover the berries with the streusel. Brush the edges with the egg white. Bake for about 30 min, or until the edges are golden and the topping starts to colour.