Kugelhopf (also Gugelhupf, Guglhupf, Gugelhopf, kougelhopf, kouglof, etc.) is a baked, sweet bread similar to brioche that has taken on a life of its own in my mind -- just like French Canelés did last year. And as with the Canelés, I had never eaten one, but was obsessed with the thought of baking a picture-perfect Kugelhopf.
Kugelhopf originated in the Alsace, but Germany, Austria, and Switzerland also lay claim to this yeasty coffee cake. There are also many variations to the dough. The recipe I used is from André Lerch: Pâtisserie-Boulangerie Alsacienne, in Paris' 5e. This Kugelhopf is made with milk and brandy, but many use just water. It is advised that the cake is left wrapped and uneaten for a day or two after baking. There is a general agreement Kugelhopf is at its best when slightly dry -- making the coffee cake all the better when dipped into your morning Café au Lait!
In my plans to make a Kugelhopf, I became obsessed with finding a true, earthenware Kugelhopf mold (which, as you can see, I did not). They are traditionally baked in a tall, ceramic tube mold with angled ribs that resemble a Turk's turban. Whole, blanched almonds are placed at the base of each "rib" before the yeast dough is added, resulting in an almond-studded crown when the cake is unmolded. I ended up using a decorative copper tube pan from the late 1800s that my sister loaned to me and has since given me upon seeing the photos of the coffee cake (with the stipulation that I bake and send one to her). So, yes... substitute a Bundt pan if you are unable to find the traditional Kugelhopf mold.
When in Paris, you will see Kugelhopfs in many pâtisseries; often the smaller, individual-sized cakes. I was always fascinated by them, and although I photographed Kugelhopfs, I never purchased one to eat. Crazy... I know. On one visit to Pierre Hermés I purchased a salted caramel macaron, but it was my sister that left the pâtisserie with a Kugelhopf to snack on!
Small Kugelhopfs at Gérard Mulot, 76 rue de Seine, Paris 6e
The recipe below will give you enough dough to make two Kugelhopfs. I halved the recipe and made one cake (thinking... I only have one mold). Had I known this cake would be so good, I would have made enough dough for two Kugelhopfs and kept half of the dough refrigerated until needed. That is certainly what I will do the next time.
Also, while kneading the dough, additional flour will probably be necessary. I was working with a very wet dough for some reason and needed much more flour. Add the flour, a generous tablespoon at a time, until the dough begins to clean the sides of the mixer bowl and you hear a slapping sound. You want a smooth, shiny dough that is still a bit sticky upon completion.
+ recipe from Paris Boulangerie Pâtisserie by Linda Dannenberg
+ This recipe will make enough dough for two 2-quart Kugelhopf molds or Bundt pans. Halve the ingredients if you only want to make one Kugelhopf.
• 1 cup golden raisins
• 1/4 cup kirsch or brandy
• 2 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 5 teaspoons (2 packages) dry yeast
• 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
• Softened butter for molds
• 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
• 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
• 4 teaspoons salt
• 2 large eggs
• Confectioners' sugar for dusting
1. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with the brandy. Let soak while preparing the starter.
2. STARTER: In a small saucepan combine 3/4 cup of the milk with 4 tablespoons of the butter. Heat, using a low temperature, until lukewarm. Transfer to a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the milk mixture; stir in 1 cup of the flour until almost fully incorporated. Place a piece of plastic wrap loosely over the bowl and set bowl aside to rise until almost double, about 1 hour.
3. Generously butter two 2-quart Kugelhopf molds or Bundt pans. Press almonds into the buttered grooves at the bottom of each mold.
4. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a dough hook, combine the remaining lukewarm milk and butter; add the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and eggs. Mix well. Pour in the yeast starter and mix well until thoroughly combined. Knead by hand on a lightly floured work surface, or using a stand mixer at medium-high speed, for about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and shiny and feel soft and slightly sticky. As you knead, add more flour or milk if necessary to adjust the consistency. (I ended up adding quite a bit more flour to my dough. Add it slowly, if needed. The dough should be slightly sticky when you are finished kneading.)
5. Drain the raisins and reserve the liquid. Knead the raisins into the dough by hand, while in the bowl, until well distributed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise to 1 1/2 times its size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
6. PREHEAT OVEN to 375˚F. Place oven rack about one-third distance from the oven floor. Gently divide the dough in half and form into two balls. Using your thumbs, stretch a small opening in the center of each ball. Place the ring of dough over the center tube of the mold. Ideally, the dough should fill 3/4 of the mold. Cover mold with a sheet of plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
7. Place the molds on the rack of the preheated over and bake for 45-50 minutes. The Kugelhopfs should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Cover Kugelhopfs with foil toward the end of baking if browning too quickly. Remove from oven and cool Kugelhopfs on a rack for several minutes before unmolding. They should release nicely if the molds were well buttered. Cool thoroughly on racks, then dust generously with Confectioners' sugar. Wrap tightly in plastic for 1 to 2 days before eating. Dust with Confectioners' sugar again before slicing.
TAKE a LOOK:
As I write this, I am eating a slice of the Cake aux Olives et Jambon. I am trying to get the feel of what it's like to be French. According to the recipe, this cake is purchased on Friday nights at the local pâtisserie, then brought to the country house to be enjoyed, certainly with French wine, over the weekend. Since I do not have a country house, I am eating this Olive and Ham Loaf Cake in my kitchen, at the counter, in front of my laptop. Certainly not a bad place to be; I love my kitchen. But I also love filling my head with snapshots of how I imagine it would be to live the good life in France...
... I need to run over to Stohrer in the 2nd arrondissement, because that is the source of this recipe. I decide to hop on the Metro, since the patisserie is on the Right Bank and I live in a centuries old, stylishly renovated apartment on the Left... in the 6th. I usually prefer to walk, but I know how distracted I can be by beautiful things, and it's already getting late. I pick up the Cake aux Olives et Jambon, along with the tiniest of tarts for one, studded with even tinier fraises alpine -- just because. I arrive back at the apartment and find my husband has returned from walking our three French Bulldogs, Marcel, Claude, and Winkie. We quickly finish loading the vintage Citroen and escape Paris, through heavy traffic, driving most of the night until we reach our chateau in the hills near Barjac. I pass out in my bed of white goose down and French linens, and dream of the brocantes I will visit the next morning, hoping to find that perfect French pastry table for my kitchen in Paris. Pretty nice, huh? Do you want to come visit me? Well... it won't be there. That's not my life. But it's so much fun to dream.
In the meantime, I bake French things in my Saint Paul kitchen and that keeps me happy. This is the second "weekend cake" I have made. The two cakes have their similarities, but are still very different. They both have ham, green olives, and Gruyère cheese. But the Gateau au Jambon et aux Olives (recipe HERE) that I made several years ago for the first time is a bit more basic and not as dense. The Cake aux Olives et Jambon I made today is a bit more complex in ingredients and flavor. It's full of white wine and vermouth. And more of just about everything else that make up the Gateau. It's a dense cake and I ended up baking it for much longer than what was specified in the recipe. And in addition... I cut slices that I broiled in the oven briefly. All of the Gruyère and olive oil in the loaf cake lend themselves nicely to a little toasting. Serve alongside a salad of greens with fruit, nuts, and cheese, then drizzled with a French vinaigrette, and that's all you need. Oh... include a bottle of good French wine and a few friends!
• adapted recipe from PARIS BOULANGERIE PATISSERIE by Linda Dannenberg
• 2 cups, less 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1/2 cup dry vermouth
• 4 large eggs, beaten
• 7/8 cup mild-flavored olive oil
• 1 1/2 cups finely diced cooked ham
• 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
• 1 1/4 cups green olives, pitted and chopped coarse
PREHEAT OVEN to 350˚F
1. Sift the flour with the baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center; add the wine, vermouth, and eggs. Mix gently just until combined. Add the olive oil, a little at a time, mixing until the batter is smooth. Add the ham, cheese and olives, and using a rubber spatula, mix just until incorporated.
2. Grease an 8-inch-by-4-inch loaf pan; pour in the batter. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted to the bottom of the cake comes out clean. I found I needed to bake my cake much longer than the recipe specified. The original recipe calls for 55 minutes. I baked my cake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. It's a dense cake. If browning too much towards the end of baking, cover with foil.
3. Cool on a wire rack; then invert onto the rack and cool completely. If desired, slice the loaf and broil the slices briefly to toast.
TAKE a LOOK:
Savory Bacon, Gruyère, and Scallion Muffins. Great as a little pre dinner snack with an apéritif!