Saturday, March 14, 2009

{Adventures in Yeast} #6 - Exploring Kugelhopf

I will always, always have a fond spot in my heart for kugelhopf, a raisin-studded sweet bread, originally from Austria. It was the first yeasted thing that I've ever baked, and when it turned out beautifully risen, I was smitten. The delicate and delicious taste just added to the love-fest. My husband was so enamored of this sweet bread that I decided to buy him some proper kugelhopf molds for Christmas, accompanied by the promise that I'd bake more for him. I'd made the kugelhopf for TWD, and Dorie Greenspan's recipe calls for an 8 cup mold; the molds that I liked the best in my online mold shopping were 6-cup and 10-cup (this one was Nordicware from Sur la Table). I figured I could make a double batch of Dorie's recipe and use both molds.

my encounter with kugelhopf in its native habitat

In the meanwhile I traveled to Germany in December to visit my younger daughter (and take in some German Christmas markets). I'll have to say that I took lots of pictures and lots of notes about the food on this trip, with an eye towards posting my experiences on this blog, but when I got back it was three days before Christmas, and, well, I was pretty busy. I have a bunch of draft posts on different aspects of the trip; at some point I hope to have them finished - by then it will probably be summer and who is going to want to read Christmas posts then?

After I tooled around in Dusseldorf, Aachen and Cologne, I headed to Berlin for 5 days. I'd been there several times previously (we love that city) and have a few favorite haunts. One is a destination of just about every other tourist who visits Berlin: the KaDeWe department store. This store is impressive on a normal day, but it really pulled out the stops for Christmas.

After wandering enchantedly through the winter woodland themed decorations on the main level, I bought some lovely paper napkins and a wonderful kitchen apron. Then it was time for the 6th floor: the largest department store food hall in the world! We've bought various things there over the years (tea, coffee, chocolates, kirschwasser) but we always stop at the pastry case.

The KaDeWe bakers make some of the best tortes in existence! I stood there in December, admiring the beautiful and colorful Yule logs, when suddenly - what did I see?
Could it be kugelhopf? Yes, it was (only they call it "gugelhopf" in Germany; no matter, it's the same thing) And, yes, I could buy it by the slice. Which I did, packed up to go so that I could enjoy it in my hotel after dinner. Check out the cross section in the photo below - can you believe how TALL that kugelhopf is?

I'll have to say that it tasted good, but really not as good as the one I baked at home using Dorie's recipe. It had a soft delicate texture and a lovely flavor, but I didn't care for the raw alcohol taste of the rum that was brushed on the outside before the powdered sugar was dusted (dumped?) on. It was also a bit drier and not as soft as Dorie's. All the same, I savored every morsel.

Baking my second kugelhopf

Valentine's Day seemed like the perfect opportunity to make kugelhopf for my husband (yup, I'm just a little behind on my yeast postings!) I even toyed with the thought of using dried cherries - to keep with the seasonal color theme - but Jim really likes raisins much better, so I kept to the traditional fruit choice.

Although we adored Dorie's recipe for kugelhopf, I figured I'd see how a new recipe compared. I had a bunch of contenders and finally chose the one in the Fannie Farmer Baking Book. [recipe at the end of this post]

As an aside, although Dorie's book indicates that kugelhopf is best eaten right away or stale the next day as toast, some of the other cookbooks I consulted were a bit more optimistic about the longevity of the bread. According to Fannie Farmer, "Europeans like Kugelhopf a day for two old, when it's slightly dry - it makes delicious toast. If you want it to remain fresh, freeze what you won't eat within a couple of days."

Nearly all the recipes called for a 10" pan, including the one I'd selected. Most 10" pans have a 12 cup capacity, including most bundt pans; my larger kugelhopf pan holds 10 cups. I didn't want to overflow the pan, so I scaled the recipe to 80% for the key ingredients. For the stir-ins I roughly estimated a heaping 3/4 of the recipe's amount.

Once I had scaled the recipe and measured out the ingredients, I unwrapped my new kugelhopf mold and saw that there was a recipe right on the inside of the wrapper - scaled, of course, for the capacity of the mold! I might make that next time...

n.o.e. notes:

- For some of the flour I used KA organic all purpose. For the rest of the flour, I dipped into my stash of original White Lily flour, which is reputed to make soft and tender baked goods. (Last summer, White Lily stopped making flour in its long-time Tennessee plant; production is now in the Midwest and White Lily devotees believe they can taste a difference. I made sure to buy a bag before the switch was made.)

-Instead of dry yeast, I used instant yeast (added with the flour)

- For fruit, I used a mix of currants and golden raisins. I chopped the golden raisins to make them roughly the same size as the currants. The recipe called for rum. Before adding the rum to the dough, I first heated it and macerated the fruit in the warm rum. Then I drained the fruit and measured the remaining rum, making up the difference in milk.

- The recipe called for lining the pan with almonds. I didn't want to obscure the beautiful lines of my mold, so I used less than 1/4 cup of sliced almonds. I also omitted chopped almonds in the bread itself.

- The dough was
I started with the dough in a spot that was average room temperature, but then I moved it to warmer and warmer spots. It finally doubled in about 4 hours. I've since purchased a package of SAF Gold label yeast, which is purportedly better for rich, sweet doughs, so we'll see with the next loaf...

- Unlike Dorie's recipe, this involved no overnight rest for the dough (although I'm sure I could have added that step). As it was, I put the dough in the pan and moved it into cool garage while we went to dinner. Back inside, in a warm spot, it filled the pan in a total time of 2.5 - 3 hours. Because I scaled the recipe for the pan, I was confident that the amounts were correct, so I could wait (patiently) for the dough to rise and fill the pan.
- The kitchen was filled with warm subtle wonderful smells while this was baking.

- I struggled a bit with the baking time/temperature. The recipe called for a hot oven for part of the time, then a reduced heat for the remainder. I tried to estimate the times for a smaller pan, and came up with:
-- 400 for 8 minutes
-- 350 for 15 minutes
-- then tented the pan and baked at 340 for 8 or 10 more minutes.
At this point the kugelhopf was golden brown and had puffed up above the rim of the pan. So beautiful!!

- It cooled for just a minute or two. The cake popped right out of the pan.

- I sifted a bit of confectioner's sugar over the top, but just a little because I wanted to see the pretty shape of the mold.

the verdict:

We didn't eat it right from the oven, but cut into it for breakfast about 12 hrs later. Sadly we found that it was a bit dry. But the flavors were very very good and it made really great toast. I think that because the pan is so tall the bread is narrow, so it cooked very quickly. Next time, I will have to pay even closer attention to the bread as it bakes, and adjust the temperatures and times. I will probably experiment with a different recipe, just for fun.

[update: After I baked this kugelhopf, I came across some other recipes that look quite intriguing:
David Lebovitz makes Nick Malgieri's recipe
Peter Reinhardt's recipe as posted at My Kitchen in Half Cups]

I'm also submittng this bread to Susan at YeastSpotting, a weekly compilation of wonderful yeast creations.

the recipe:

from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book
for 10" mold [approximately 12 cup capacity - such as a bundt pan]

1 pkg dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
5 eggs
1/4 cup rum or 1/4 cupadditional milk, warmed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T grated orange zest
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 T butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1. Stir the yeast into the warm milk (use 3/4 cup milk if you are omitting the rum) and let stand to dissolve.

2. Combine the sugar, salt, and eggs in a large bowl, andbeat well, then add the rum (if you are using it), vanilla, and orange zest, mixing well. Stir in the dissolved yeast.

3. Add 2 cups of the flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter, and beat until the batter is smooth and well blended.

4. Add the remaining flour, the chopped almonds and raisins, and beat again until smooth. The batter will be heavy and sticky.

5. Cover the bowl and let rise until double in bulk - maybe 3 hours or more.

6. Grease the Kugelhopf or tube pan thoroughly. Punch the dough down and place it in the pan, punching and patting it into place to fit evenly. Cover the bowl and let rise until double in bulk. Press on the top the sliced almonds.

7. Bake the bread in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees and continue baking for about 40 minutes. If the top becomes brown, cover loosely with foil for the last 20 minutes or so.

8. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, the turn out onto a rack to cool completely.


Elyse said...

What a gorgeous Kugelhopf! I have yet to try Dorie's recipe, but after hearing your rave reviews, I will definitely do that. You prefer her recipe over this new one? Your husband is one lucky man to get such a special treat!

CM said...

Wow! Once again, you've floored me with your bread! Looks amazing!

natalia said...

Ciao ! Wow ! the aspect of the kugelhopf is so beautiful ! I'm sorry about the dryness but maybe nesuring the inner temperature (a suggestion of Rose Levy Berambaum) can help I'm always with the termometer and the pot holder near the oven !! (it should be around 180)

Matt's Kitchen said...

My friend Ingrid from school just gave me the recipe for kugelhoph her mother brought with her when she emigrated from Austria in 1956. Her family has been making it ever since, and the best part of it all is that it has no yeast! I think the rise comes from whipped egg whites. I plan on making and posting the recipe soon.

Sara said...

I'm sorry it was a little dry, it sure loks beautiful! I've never had kugelhopf before, but I definitely need to try it soon.

Audrey said...

Oh, I don't know, if they're all as good as this one, I'd read your travel/yeast baking posts anytime! Your v e r y s l o w r i s i n g dough reminds of my TWD dough, which actually never (really) rose. Looks wonderful!

Claudia said...

This is beautiful - and I love the travel photos. I studied in Austria (back in the day) and there are baking aromas that bring me back there. Love the blog.

Cathy said...

Honestly, come late July around here, I'll be begging you to post some of your cold weather tales. Your kugelhopf is absolutely picture perfect (and your picture is also picture perfect). Sorry the Fanny Farmer version didn't wow you quite as much as Dorie's, but I guess the only way to find out if there is a better one out there is to try out different recipes! I enjoyed your post (although I have kugelhopf pan envy.)

Di said...

Okay, now you've got me wanting to make kugelhopf again! =) Love the pan--I have the same one. Thanks for sharing some of your Germany trip with us, too.

dharmagirl said...

I too have kugelhopf pan envy! There's something about the graceful curves and ridges that makes this cakey bread so gorgeous--my TWD loaf just can't compare.

Thanks for sharing your adventures!

Anonymous said...

Wow, the cake looks great! I have been wanting to make one with the new pan I just bought. Great post.

Joanne said...

This looks a lot like panettone, which is this Italian sweet bread that's served during Christmas, often stuffed with dried fruit or chocolate (if you're lucky). Maybe they're the same thing just with different names? Either way it looks great!

NKP said...

I think it is beautiful.
I, too, have been wanting to explore this bread further. I found a pan not too long ago, and look forward to experimenting. Your post is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Gorgeous. I really loved the kugelhopf when we made it for TWD.

I love the pictures from Germany. Keep them coming.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Nancy this is a perfectly beautiful post on so many levels.
Love the Germany trip and photos! Is this food court in Berlin really bigger than the one in Herrod's in London - I overwhelmed when I go there.
Fascinating how different recipes and different times baking with them give us such different results.
Your pan is fabulous!

Anonymous said...

Kugelhopf is a bread (cake) that's right up there on my "to try" list. Yours is lovely, as are the photos and memories of Germany.

TeaLady said...

Beautiful is the only word to cover that Kugelhopf!!!

The food 'floors' of the European stores are overwhelming and great fun. Went to the one, several actually, at Herrods in London. WOW!!! Good thing we don't have them everywhere over here. Guess Whole Foods and Central Market will have to do....