South Dakota State Foods
Kuchen is the German word for any type of cake or pie. The South Dakota version, however, is always an open-faced tart. It starts with a base of sweet, yeasted dough or a short crust. The dough is topped with custard, usually made of sweet or sour cream. (Cream cheese versions are increasingly common.) Often, there’s a layer of fruit under the custard, but this isn’t a requirement. Sliced apples are extremely popular, though peaches and other seasonal fruit are sometimes used. Kuchen is usually a dessert, but it can be part of a coffee break or breakfast.
South Dakota settlers from Russia and Germany invented kuchen, borrowing elements of different desserts from their homelands and incorporating local ingredients. It has been a constant on the South Dakota table ever since. There’s a kuchen festival every year in Delmont. Kuchen is also a fixture at other festivals and celebrations statewide, for example the Eureka Schmeckfest.