Kugelhopf is a traditional cake which is considered to come from Alsace in the north east of France though its origins go back much further than that. Every bakery window in Alsace seems to be filled with this delicious little round cake with a hole in the centre.
Whilst it is not the easiest dish to make, Rachel Khoo has simplified the recipe to come up with a traditional, authentic Kugelhopf recipe, the perfect explanation for how to make kugelhopf at home (taken from her new book My Little French Kitchen. Rachel says this is an “anytime snack cake” but it is especially popular at Christmas.
Rachel’s top tip for this recipe is “ if you use dry prunes, cut them into small 1cm chunks and leave to soak in the cognac while the dough rises”.
Makes one 20cm kugelhopf
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Resting time: minimum 6 hours, but best overnight
Baking time: 30 minutes
300g strong white bread flour
40g caster sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
5g (2 teaspoons) instant dried yeast
1 egg, beaten
70g soft butter, cut into small cubes
70g soft, ready-to-eat stoned prunes
50ml cognac, rum or brandy optional – if using very dry prunes*
8-10 blanched almonds for decoration (optional)
1 egg, plus 2 tablespoons milk, for the eggwash
1 tablespoon soft butter, for greasing the mould
1 x 20cm kugelhopf mould, or 1 x 900g loaf tin, greased and lined with baking paper
Mix together all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook and make a well in the middle. Add the milk and egg to the centre. Switch on to a medium speed for 6-8 minutes.
The dough will become soft, smooth and elastic. Add the softened butter bit by bit and continue to mix for another 5 minutes until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the bowl down periodically with a spatula to insure all the butter is mixed in.
Once the dough is formed (it should be slightly sticky), decant into a large clean bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until it has doubled in size (ideally overnight).
Butter the kugelhopf mould. If using a loaf tin, line it with baking paper. Place one almond into each groove at the bottom of the mould. If using a loaf tin, just scatter loosely.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove from the fridge.
Drain the prunes of any excess liquid (*if they were soaked in cognac) and knead into the dough, but keep the kneading to a minimum.
Shape the dough into a ball and poke a hole in the middle. Tuck it neatly in the mould making sure the middle of the mould pokes through the dough. Brush with eggwash.
If using a loaf tin, form the dough into a sausage the length of the tin. Pop into the tin and brush with eggwash.
Cover with a damp clean tea towel or cling film and leave to rise somewhere warm until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Brush the kugelhopf with egg wash and place in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling tray or rack.
Enjoy any time of the day with coffee, tea, wine, beer… its one of those any time snack cakes!
It’s makes a really good alternative to Christmas cake, serve it dusted with icing sugar and decorated with a mixture of glacé fruits, nuts and dragées.