One of the most alluring concepts for me in baking is old recipes. When the Great British Bake-Off series that aired in the U.S. in 2015 explored yeast-raised continental cakes, there was one that caught my eye…the Kugelhopf. Finally presented with an opportunity that was appropriate to make this old Austrian recipe, I had a look at the ingredients, decided I had everything, and got to work.
So, Kugelhopf is a recipe from the Habsburg Dynasty in Austria that apparently got its name from the shape of the pan resembling the disembodied head of a Turk. The cake was originally baked to celebrate the Habsburg victory over the Turks at the Battle of Vienna in 1485. That makes this a 15th century recipe.
So basically, you melt butter in milk and dissolve sugar in it, form a “volcano” of flour and yeast in your mixer, and pour the liquid into the dry as it mixes. When it comes together you add orange zest and raisins, let it beat until the gluten forms nicely, and plop it into your kugelhopf mould. Of course, I don’t have a kugelhopf mould (yet…Christmas is coming), so I just used a bundt pan.
It bakes for 15 minutes, gets covered with foil so the bottom doesn’t develop too much of a tan, and then continues to bake another 25 minutes or so. I “topped” mine with apricots, but they burnt to a crisp so I pulled them out and pretended that the inlaid pattern of light and dark was done on purpose. Pro-tip: people will believe anything you tell them about baking because they don’t do it themselves.
So it turned out pretty well. It’s not a cake, per se, because it’s not very sweet and has a much more bread-like texture. I think next time I may double the orange zest, and use cranberries instead of raisins. You know, for Christmas.
At any rate, kugelhopfs are good, and I recommend them to anyone who has to take something to work for a potluck.