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South Dakota State Dessert

German kuchen; photo by Ingrid Eulenfan on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / share alike)

Official State Dessert of South Dakota

Kuchen was designated the official state dessert of South Dakota in 2000. South Dakota also recognizes a state bread and a state drink.

Kuchen desserts are of German/Russian heritage, popular in many areas of German settlement in the United States, particularly North Dakota, South Dakota, Indiana, and Minnesota. All State Foods & Beverages

Different Varieties of Kuchen

Kuchen is the German word for "cake" and is used to describe a variety of different types of sweet desserts and pastries:

Pie-like pastry with a thick, "cakey" crust and a sweet custard-based filling (this is the prairie-style kuchen described in the South Dakota Legislative manual) or an apple-pie-like filling (often with sweet white icing on the top).

Rolled-pastry with a long spiral of dough filled, rolled, baked and then sliced to serve (nut roll).

Coffee cake-like pastry with veins and pockets of cinnamon and sugar baked throughout.

Cheesecake-like pastry with a yeast-raised crust filled with fruit (cherry is most popular) and a creamy custard.

German Kuchen Recipe


  • 2 cups warm sweet milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package yeast

Flour to make a soft dough.  Mix and let raise as for any soft sweet dough. This makes about 8 kuchen.

Cream Filling:

  • 2 cups sweet or sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tblsp. flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Heat cream. Beat eggs and add sugar and flour. Mix into cream and cook until thick. Spread on kuchen dough with fruit if desired. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake.