Put this in your recipe repertoire and smoke it – homemade kugelhopf. It makes a unique and easy to bake replacement for the ubiquitous pound cake. Plus for some unknown reason it turns out looking spectacular. I was actually sort of speechless when I first saw it after it came out of the oven – it was just so pretty and looked so unlike most of my baking endeavors.
If you’ve never tried a kugelhopf, it’s like a very eggy, slightly sweet brioche. It is said to have originated in Austria or in the Alsace region of France. Legend has it that Marie Antoinette, who was born in Vienna, Austria, brought the cake recipe to France upon her marriage to Louis XVI.
Unlike most desserts we would term cake, kugelhopf is a yeast risen cake, using active dry or fresh yeast instead of baking soda or baking powder. This gives the cake a slightly denser more “bready” texture, similar to the Italian panettone. Kugelhopf is also not frequently served as an after dinner dessert. Instead it’s considered more of a coffee cake that might be eaten for or with breakfast, or could be part of an afternoon snack. There’s certainly no reason not to serve it as dessert after dinner, since it is still nicely sweet, and especially if the dinner has been relatively light.
Traditional kugelhopf is made in a round pan with a hole in the center, most often what we’d term a bundt pan, though there are heavy pans specifically made for kugelhopf. Unlike the average bundt cake, which is often a variation of a pound cake recipe, this dessert needs time to rise due to its yeast.
The interior of kugelhopf may have a layer of raisins or currants, all together in the center. Alternately, the currants, and sometimes nuts, can be mixed throughout the dough. Some versions add a small amount of spice, like cinnamon. When the cake is cooked and unmolded, it can be given a light dusting of powdered sugar. Some add a simple vanilla or cinnamon glaze to make the cake a little sweeter.
I used the recipe right off one of the placemats Tom brought me, with just one adjustment. I tripled the dried fruit the recipe called for. Definitely try this one at home! Serve it as a dessert with a little lightly sweetened whipped cream and a spoonful of lingonberry or some other tart preserve. It pairs wonderfully well with one of First Vine’s brut champagnes – try the Champagne Bernard Mante Brut ($32). The Brut champagne is made mostly from Pinot Meunier with some Chardonnay to refine its flavor, and a bit of Pinot Noir. It’s fresh and luscious, with fruity notes and a fruit and floral finish. An “everyday” champagne that’s miles beyond ordinary, it’s perfect for all occasions that call for champagne and also for everyday celebrations — like Wednesday, for example…