This lovely recipe was sent to me by Christiane Macri, a SHB blog friend (in case you are wondering, SHB means “serious home baker” as I learned today in a mail from the Bread Bakers Guild of America). As I didn’t have a kouglof pan, Christiane was kind enough to send me one as well. Merci mille fois, Christiane!
The kouglof (also spelled kugelhof or Gugelhopf or kugelhopf, etc.) is a brioche of Germanic origin, very common in the Alsace region of France as well as in Germany, Austria and in the Czech Republic. It is usually made with baker’s yeast, raisins, almonds and sometimes a few drops of kirsch.
According to a local legend, the Three Kings stopped in the village of Ribeaupré (Alsace) on their way to Bethlehem and created the kouglof as a thank-you present to a pastry-shop owner who had offered them hospitality. To make it more distinctive, they gave it the shape of their turbans.
Christiane’s recipe uses white starter, raisins and almonds. I replaced the raisins by dried cherries and the almonds (which I didn’t have) with toasted hazelnuts. I also replaced part of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour. The original recipe called for 175 g of butter but Christiane reduced it to 150 g and I followed her lead. I had to adjust the flour and liquid amounts to take into account the difference between French and US flours. Finally I added saffron because I love the way it showcases the flavor of the cherries.
A bundt cake pan can be used in lieu of a kouglof pan.
470 g unbleached all-purpose flour
120 g white whole wheat flour
150 g mature white starter
20 g water, lukewarm
5 g salt
100 g dried cherries (or raisins)
80 g ground hazelnuts (or almonds, sliced thin)
50 g sugar
30 g warm water (to soak the cherries or raisins)
150 g butter, at room temperature
100 g milk, scalded, then allowed to cool
1/2 tsp saffron threads, steeped in scalded milk for one hour
- Soak the cherries in the warm water
- Place flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of the mixer and mix (using the hook)
- Add starter, milk (with saffron threads inside)
- Mix for one minute
- Add eggs, one by one
- Mix for 5 minutes on medium speed
- Add softened butter, little by little
- Mix a bit faster for about 10 minutes
- Add the cherries and mix on first speed one minute
- Cover and let rise for 1 ½ hour
- Butter or oil the pan
- Sprinkle the sliced almonds or chopped hazelnuts at the bottom
- Knead the dough briefly and shape into a ball
- Make a hole in the center and stretch it until it is big enough to go over the central “chimney” in the pan
- Transfer to the pan and let rise again for one to one and a half hour
- Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC
- Bake for 45 to 60 minutes (according to your oven)
- Unmold on a rack and allow to cool
- Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar
Jan.3 update : Oops! I just realized I was showing you the kouglof slice lying down instead of standing up as it comes out when you cut it. Here is the “right” picture: