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Schmaltzy Spotlight / Marissa Lippert: From the Bronx to Virginia to the Village: The cake that keeps on giving

Schmaltzy Spotlight / Marissa Lippert: From the Bronx to Virginia to the Village: The cake that keeps on giving

Shared by Marissa Lippert
Recipe Roots: Central Europe > Brooklyn, NY > The Bronx, NY > Arlington, VA > Greenwich Village, NY

Marissa Lippert’s grandmother Beatrice, who she called Grandma Bebe, was the type of host many of us aspire to be. She always kept sweets in the freezer, “just in case” someone came over, Marissa told us at our live storytelling event Village Schmaltzy.

That someone was often Marissa, who lived nearby and as a little kid would sleepover on many nights, staying up to watch Golden Girls and baking in Grandma Bebe’s mustard yellow galley kitchen outside of Washington D.C. Together, they would make dark chocolate walnut brownies, coconut macaroons, and an apple kuchen with a coconut base that was a cult family favorite.

The kuchen recipe may have come with Bebe’s parents who immigrated from Austria and Hungary. Bebe’s father was in the wholesale butter and egg business “and there’s a lot of butter in the kuchen,” she jokes. When Bebe passed away when Marissa was 8-years-old, her mother took on the recipe, making it often for family meals. “It was a nice way of keeping her memory,” Marissa says.

Like the women in her family before her, Marissa held tightly to the recipe. When she opened her cafe and catering company Nourish Kitchen + Table in Greenwich Village, she wanted the space to feel like a kitchen for the community. For her, that meant nourishing food and keeping Grandma Bebe close by with her baked goods recipes on the menu. With a background in nutrition, Marissa updated the kuchen a bit, replacing the boxed coconut cake for her own recipe, adding pastry cream, and letting the seasons dictate the fruit that sits atop. In the spring it’s often sour cherry-pistachio and in the summer, blueberry-peach with rose pastry cream. But in the fall she returns to the fruit Bebe used and makes it with apples — adding a bit of brightness with cranberries.

With Grandma Bebe’s recipes on the menu at Nourish, Marissa explains: “She’s there — she’s kind of constantly with me.”     

Marissa shared a story about her Grandma Bebe's Kuchen at our live storytelling event Village Schmaltzy on November 6.

Listen to the recording here:

And check out all of the stories from Schmaltzy here.

Photo by Christine Han

Photo by Christine Han

Grandma Bebe's Apple Kuchen

Makes: 1 cake in a 9” round baking dish
Time: 2 hours

Cinnamon Pastry Cream (1 pint):
16 oz half and half
½ cup sugar
½ oz cornstarch
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 eggs

Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon. Beat the eggs well until blended and whisk into sugar-salt mixture. Heat the half and half until simmering, stirring consistently.

Continuously whisking, slowly pour the half and half into the sugar-egg mixture to temper. Continue slowly adding half and half to egg mixture. Pour blended mixture back into the pot used to heat up the half and half, lower heat a bit and stir constantly, whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Cook until mixture is very thick (10-15 minutes) – it will further thicken once refrigerated. Don’t overcook or cream will solidify, separate and be grainy when chilled.

Pour pastry cream through a sieve or chinoise into a bowl for extra smoothness, and place bowl over an ice bath and whisk to cool immediately. Store in fridge for at least 30 minutes until using.

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
⅔ cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 oz. butter, melted
room temperature butter to grease dish
½ tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease baking dish with room temperature butter. Whisk together flour, sugar, coconut, baking powder and salt. Add vanilla into melted butter and whisk into dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated and distributed. Crust will be crumbly, but cohesive. Press lightly into dish. Blind bake crust 15 minutes at 350F, until surface is golden. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.

1 ½ apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced into half moons
½ cup fresh cranberries
¼ cup of sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, cinnamon and vanilla into fruit to coat. Set aside.

½  cup sour cream
1 egg yolk

Mix yolk into sour cream until fully combined and set aside.

1. Spread a thin layer of chilled pastry cream atop crust (about 4 tablespoons).
2. Arrange apples in a fan shape or circular motion and dot cranberries over top.
3. Drizzle sour cream/egg topping lightly over fruit with a fork.
4. Bake kuchen for 30 minutes at 350F, rotating halfway until topping is set and golden.
5. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving

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Listen to 5 Tales from Village Schmaltzy

Listen to 5 Tales from Village Schmaltzy