Time to Make the Kugelhopf

Tami Weiser

Time to Make the Kugelhopf

Kugelhopf, or Gugelhopf, is a baked treat with Germanic roots. A cross between a yeast cake and a sweet enriched bread, it’s a cousin to the Italian holiday panettone. And it’s the subject of another Weiser Kitchen video.

Some recipes for kugelhopf lean more toward cake-iness, some towards breadiness. Either way, these are traditionally baked in a pan with fanciful tall peaks and towers and sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar to mimic the snow-capped roofs of their home region. Around 1950, a group of Jewish immigrants in Minnesota reached out to a pan maker, Nordic Ware, in their search for the pan in which they could recreate this traditional treat. Nordic Ware created the now-famous Bundt pan with the iconic tube shape, which wasn’t quite as decorative, but worked well. The shape spawned a thousand recipes. A classic Bundt pan (12-cup size) works for this recipe as well.

I chose to make this cake in a bread-brioche style for two reasons. First, I like using any leftovers for an indulgent French toast or bread pudding and I wanted the dough to be a light, buttery cake that wasn’t too sweet. Second, this is a very forgiving dough with which to try your hand at brioche-making. Brioche-making is a bit of a skill. After an initial short kneading, small pieces of butter are added, a few at time, while the dough is still being kneaded. The nuggets of butter must be fully incorporated before you add more, but the dough can’t be kneaded so long that it actually begins to heat up. When I wrote this recipe, I made sure to add markers for time and texture that you can look out for when adding the butter, so the problem is pretty much resolved, but if you are looking to learn the technique, feel the bowl and dough after every few additions so you can learn over time to gauge how fast the butter needs to be added. It’s takes quite a few brioches to get comfortable with this, and you can’t exactly fix it if it gets too warm—just add the butter a bit faster this time and add larger chunks next time you make the brioche.

This recipe is a great one to learn from, because the dough has enough other ingredients (like eggs and unsweetened almond milk), which will keep the rise slower than usual, making it harder to make a mistake. 

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