Eureka Women Churn out State Dessert
Holland, Deb. "Eureka Women Churn out State Dessert." Rapid City Journal, 17 August 2003, sec. 1C.
What's a New Yorker of Filipino descent doing in Eureka, S.D.?
Making kuchen, of course.
Maria Luz Alandy came to Eureka in 1991 with her husband, the town's
doctor. She moved to the small community permanently in 1998. It
was then that Maria joined with two other local women who wanted
to open a bakery to produce quality kuchen.
Hulda Opp and Donna Mehlhaff were Maria's partners. The women named
their enterprise "HDL, the good KUCHEN."
For those of you still stuck in the second paragraph, kuchen (pronounced
'kü-kin) is derived from an Old German word for "cake."
The word originated in the 1800s, and it describes various types
of coffeecakes made from a sweet dough and a wide variety of fillings.
In 2000, kuchen was made the state dessert of South Dakota. It
wouldn't have taken much to convince my family to vote for the designation.
Kuchen was a staple in our home while I was growing up. My sister
even e-mailed me last week because she saw a booth set up at the
Empire Fair in Sioux Falls this year. "South Dakota's State
Dessert," the booth's banner heralded. Our grandma Bartel would
be so moved.
The women in Eureka spent three years baking and trying many recipes
before finally establishing Eureka Kuchen Factory in May 2001. Unfortunately,
by that time, one of the original founders, Donna Mehlhaff, had
Eureka Kuchen Factory opened its doors under the management of
Maria and Hulda. Today, they have some other employees, Cindy Gab,
Ardella Klein, Debra Mehlhaff, Luceil Opp and Jeanne Serr. And in
addition to kuchen, they make plachendas, cheese buttons and strudels.
Maria realized that the plachendas -a German-Russian turnover made
of light pastry dough with sweet pumpkin or fruit (apple) filling
–were somewhat familiar to her. "They are much like empanadas,"
According to foodreference.com,
empanada is a Spanish word coming from "empanar," meaning
to bread, or to bake in pastry. It is basically an individual turnover
(although there are family-sized versions) with a pastry crust and
filled with chicken, meat, seafood, vegetables or fruit.
They are popular in Spain, Mexico and South America, especially
in Argentina and Chile. They are believed to have originated in
Galicia, in northwest Spain and were originally made with bread
But kuchen is still the mainstay of the factory.
"We can make as many as 200 a day," Maria said, "On
an average day, we make between 80 and 90, and on a slow day, we
make 45 to 50."
Eureka Kuchen Factory offers an array of flavors, including peach,
apricot, apple, prune, blueberry, cherry, raisin, strawberry, raspberry,
cottage cheese, sugar, custard, rhubarb, cranberry, pumpkin and
some gourmet flavors, including chocolate chip, cinnamon chip, peanut-butter
chip, double chocolate, Heath toffee, chocolate, chocolate chip
with peanut-butter streusel, chocolate and peanut -butter chip (sort
of a Reese's peanut-butter cup, I would imagine), And they offer
low-sugar flavors of apple, peach and apricot with only a third
of the calories. But, then again, when you're eating kuchen, who's
People in Eureka gravitate to the prune and cottage- cheese kuchen.
What's Maria's favorite?
"I think I like chocolate chip and peach," she says.
When people stop by to buy kuchen at the factory, they are often
taken aback by Maria's appearance.
'They will say, 'You don't look German.' Then I tell them, I may
not look German, but I'm German at heart," she said.
In the Black Hills, you can get Eureka Kuchen Factory kuchen at
Lynn's Dakotamart in Sturgis and Pierre. The German-Russian dessert
is also available at Ken's in Eureka, Ipswich and Aberdeen, HRS,
RG's Restaurant and Wimpy's in Aberdeen, Sax's Restaurant in Redfield,
Calicos in Mound City, D & M Cafe in Leola, Dan's Supermarket
in Bismarck, N.D. and Stan's Supervalue Store in Wishek, N.D. Or
to order products directly, call the factory at 284-2838. Prices
range from $1.50 or $18 for a baker's dozen of 4-ounce personal-pan-sized
kuchen to $5 and $6 for a 10-inch kuchen. Shipping is by UPS second-day
Reprinted with permission of the Rapid City Journal.