Kugelhopf: The European Bundt

The American Bundt cake was not the first of its kind. Before the Bundt, there were European versions known by many names: Hefe-Gugelhopf, Gugelhupf, Kugelhopf, Kogelhupf, Kougelhopf, Türkenbund, Baba, and Napfkuchen. This fluted cake with a hole in its middle originally came from Austria, but has strong roots in the Alsace region of France. In comparison to a Bundt cake, kugelhopfs seem taller and more narrow.

Having grown up in Minnesota, I’m more familiar with the Bundt cake. Now that I live in Switzerland however, I finally tried making the cake I most often hear referred to as kugelhopf—sans dairy and almonds. These cakes are more commonly seen in the Basel region of Switzerland, but you can find them in bakeries and markets throughout the country.

While Swiss kugelhopfs have traditionally been yeasted cakes, I also see non-yeasted, more Bundt-like cakes as well. For example, when we were in Zurich during the holiday season, Confiserie Sprüngli appeared to have both kinds—delicious baking powder-leavened kugelhopf with chocolate icing alongside yeasted and more bread-like kugelhopf.

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Thanks to my dear mother, I now own Nordic Ware’s version of a kugelhopf pan. After 4 cakes during the last two weeks, I still haven’t mastered the yeasted dough. Thankfully, my husband got some kugelhopf tips from his Alsatian co-worker yesterday, so hopefully I’ll be seeing some improvements soon…

IMG_20140130_174401Kugelhopf #4: Lemon zest, vanilla and raisins

I’m determined to develop a good dairy/nut-free recipe for kugelhopf before the winter is over. If you have any kugelhopf advice for me, please leave a comment below. Bon weekend, everyone!

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