Who we are

Secret of state dessert

Dickey, Elissa. “Who we are.” Aberdeen American News, 23 August 2010.

It might seem like kuchen has been a South Dakota staple forever, but it has been the state dessert for only 10 years.

And you have the people of Eureka to thank.

More than a decade ago, folks of German-Russian ancestry from the McPherson County town approached the state Legislature about making the designation for the German dessert. It became official on July 1, 2000.

Kuchen is a custard-like treat that can have a variety of fillings including many different kinds of fruit, such as peaches, apples, prunes and rhubarb. A traditional kuchen is a round dessert, usually 8 to 10 inches in diameter - dough on the bottom, fruit in the middle and custard on top.

South Dakota has several state designations - some of which you might not know about. For instance, can you name South Dakota's state soil? It is Houdek, which was designated by the Legislature in 1990.

Some other state designation trivia from around the U.S. (found on various state government websites):

  • South Dakota's state sport is rodeo. Alaska's is dog mushing.
  • Milk is the state beverage of North Dakotahttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/mag-glass_10x10.gif and Minnesota.
  • Popcorn is the state snack of Illinois.
  • Iowa's state rock is the geode. Nebraska's is the prairie agate.
  • Florida's state reptile is the American alligator.
  • California's state insect is the California dogface butterfly or dog head.
  • Massachusetts' state dessert is, fittingly, Boston cream pie. And its state doughnut is - you guessed it - the Boston cream doughnut. And yes, its state dog is the Boston terrier.

Here's a basic kuchen recipe found on a link of the state of South Dakota's website:

Basic Kuchen

1 package dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2 cups warm milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
6-8 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in lukewarm water. Combine milk and eggs, beat well. Add shortening, beat again. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt and add first mixture to it. Mix well. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, sprinkle with a little flour at a time. Put in warm place to rise until double in bulk. Divide dough into 8 equal parts. Roll each piece to fit a pie plate. Let rise 20 minutes. Put fruit on top-can use apples, peaches, raisins, prunes, etc.


2 cups sweet cream or sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Top the fruit with cream filling. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until brown.

Reprinted with permission of the Aberdeen American News.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller