Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Kugelhopf

Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalWorcester Food Expert

The Kugelhopf (pronounced "google-hoopf") is the Southern German version of the American Bundt Cake and the Italian Panettone. Traditionally, it is a cake, made with yeast dough, and it is baked in a special, Bundt-style cake pan. Several Kugelhopf cakes today are made with baking powder instead of yeast for leavening, and make the cake easier and quicker to prepare.

These are still baked in the Kugelhopf cake pan. However, except for their shape, these cakes have little in common with the traditional recipes.

Though it originated in Austria, this sweet raisin-filled yeast bread has become a specialty of the Alsace region of France, where it is often served for breakfast or brunch.

The best time to enjoy a Kugelhopf is when it is fresh out of the oven and still lukewarm. Germans often spread some butter and jam over a slice and enjoy it with a cup of coffee during your holidays.

Makes 8 to 10 dessert or snack servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (less than 1 envelope)

2 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)

1 cup whole milk

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups golden raisins

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange or lemon zest

About 20 whole blanched almonds (1/2 ounces)

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Special equipment: a standing electric mixer with paddle attachment; an 11-cup kugelhopf mold (9 1/2 inches in diameter) or an 11- to 12-cup Bundt pan.

Preparation

Stir together yeast and water in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.) Heat milk with 6 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar over low heat, stirring, until mixture is warm (105 to 115°F), butter is melted, and sugar is dissolved. Sift together flour and salt into bowl of standing mixer. Make a well in flour and add yeast mixture. Add warm milk in a slow stream, mixing at low speed with paddle attachment. Increase speed to medium and beat in eggs 1 at a time, then beat in raisins and zest. Continue to beat until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.) Butter the kugelhopf mold with remaining tablespoon butter. Put 1 almond in each depression in bottom of mold (the almonds are only decorative; you can skip them altogether if your mold has no depressions), then scrape spoonfuls of dough evenly into mold (dough will be very elastic). Cover top of mold with oiled plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm place until it fills pan, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Remove towel from kugelhopf and gently peel off plastic wrap. Bake kugelhopf in middle of oven 15 minutes, then loosely cover mold with foil and continue to bake until golden and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes more. Cool in pan 2 minutes, and then invert cake onto a rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Cooks' note:

Kugelhopf is best eaten the same day it's made; however, leftovers are delicious toasted.
Use a light-colored metal pan. Because they retain more heat, dark metal pans, including nonstick, will likely make your baked goods darker and decrease the cooking times.

History

There are two conflicting stories regarding the origin of the Kugelhopf. The first story says that the three holy kings, on their way home from Bethlehem, traveled through the Alsace region of France. The residents of Alsace were so delighted of their visit that they baked them a cake resembling the shape of their turbans, thus inventing the traditional form of the Kugelhopf.

The second story claims that the Kugelhopf was invented in Austria. Marie Antoinette, queen of France and archduchess of Austria, brought the cake from the Alp region to the French region of Versailles.

Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking, School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." Check out the Chef's website and blog

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