Kugelhopf/Gugelhopf

Country of origin: Germany/Austria

I’m not really sure what the origins of this yeasty brioche-y cake are, but kugelhopf/gugelhupf most probably comes from Germany/Austria and rumour has it it that it was popularized in France by Marie Antoinette. In any case, it’s a delicious, fluffy and rich bread, sweetened mainly by plump raisins and a sugar syrup. It’s delicious as a snack, with coffee for breakfast or – dare I say it – made into a super-rich French toast after a day or two!

In my excitement to make these, I ordered what I thought were mini silicone kugelhopf molds without checking their size, and was shocked when they arrived in über-mini size! I went with it though, and on the whole was happy with the way the teeny kugelhopfs came out: golden and sugary on the outside, fluffy and studded with drunk raisins inside. The only downside is that they were a little on the dry side, especially the next day. This may have been because I went overboard in the flour department while forming the dough.

The recipe I followed was from Ladurée’s Sucre book, which really deserves a post of its own. I won’t gush too much, but it’s a nifty little book that looks the part too, beautifully bound in pale green velvet. It covers all the basics, as well as recipes for a long list of classic sweets like the brioche, éclairs, fruit tarts, ice creams and macarons.

There are many variations of kugelhopf recipes around, some using a yeast starter sponge, some not. Some recipes use all-purpose flour, while others call for cake flour or even bread flour. David Lebovitz’s post follows the recipe from A Baker’s Tour by Nick Malgieri, which starts with making a yeast sponge at the beginning and also includes chopped almonds in the dough. Another excellent post is from the translator of the Ladurée Sucre recipe book. Finally, this post follows Bo Friberg’s recipe from the The Professional Pastry Chef. The post also gives a comprehensive comparison of kugelhopf and it’s cousin, the pannetone.

Before you begin with the dough, you need to hydrate the raisins, by soaking in water or rum. The dough is fairly straightforward to make, it’s just the proofing stages that take a while. Cake flour is mixed with yeast, sugar, salt and eggs. After this mixture is kneaded, butter is added and it’s kneaded again. However, I found the dough extremely damp and hard to work with, so had quite a bit of extra flour.

Proof until the dough doubles in size:

Knock back one more time and refrigerate for two and a half hours. Next, butter the molds and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Measure out 35g for these mini-mini versions, roll into a small ball, flatten slightly and after flouring your finger, make a hole through the middle and place in the mold (prettiest-side down).

They are then proofed for a third and final time, at room temperature (again, I cheated and used a slightly warm oven instead). They will double in size and are now ready to be baked for about 15 minutes. I had some leftover dough, so used a muffin tin to bake muffin-hopfs. You can see below that the metal tin cooked these quicker and they came out a bit too brown:

All that’s left is to brush the little kugelhopfs with sugar syrup. The Ladurée recipe adds ground almonds to simple syrup, lending more texture as well as flavour. The recipe also recommends brushing the glazed kugelhopfs with melted butter to lock in moisture.

Now that I’ve attempted kugelhopf, I’m excited by the prospect of trying pannetone and stollen and all sorts of other Christmas-y goodies!

Tips:

-You don’t need to butter silicone molds in general, but if it’s the first time you’re using them, you should.

-Perhaps use a machine to knead the dough, as I think the warmth of my hands may have over-warmed the butter.

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