DEAR SOS: My grandmother was German and would bake a loaf of kuchen. It was so delicious. I remember she added sugar to the bread, and we ate it like a dessert. Do you know the recipe?
DEAR MARIE: This recipe ran with a story in the Food section in 1992. Former Times critic Charles Champlin wrote about the food cooked by his grandmother, mother and great aunt. His great-aunt Julie used to make a kuchen similar to this. I hope it's similar to your grandmother's as well.
Settlement Cookbook Kuchen
Active Work Time: 25 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 45 minutes plus 1 1/2 hours rising
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope dry yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm (110 degrees) milk
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
4 to 5 1/2 cups flour
Chopped nuts, optional
Dissolve the yeast in the milk and allow to stand until tiny bubbles appear on the surface, 3 to 5 minutes.
Cream 1 cup of butter until fluffy, then add the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add the salt and lemon zest. Stir in the flour alternately with the yeast mixture and mix well. (If the dough is too soft to knead, add more flour as needed.)
Knead the dough on a floured board until it's smooth and elastic (or in a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment), 8 to 10 minutes.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a damp towel, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes.
Spread the dough 1/2 inch thick in a shallow buttered 18x12-inch (half sheet) pan. Cover and let it rise again until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and spread it over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with more sugar and the cinnamon and chopped nuts, if desired.
Bake the kuchen until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
18 servings. Each serving: 261 calories; 268 mg sodium; 68 mg cholesterol; 13 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 30 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.96 gram fiber.