I love traditions; any little thing that has a history. I don’t care if you just started it yesterday, or if your family has been doing it for generations, I just love to hear about people’s traditions.
I’ve noticed that wherever food and tradition cross over, the food tends to be pretty damn good. So yes, greed is big part of my motivation.
The Kugelhopf has a regal tradition. It is widely believed to be native to the Alsace region of France, though they have versions of it all over Europe. Some say it was created by bakers after the Turkish army was defeated at the Siege of Vienna in 1683, hence the turban-like shape of the mold.
Others claim that it is a cake created by none other than the Three Wise Men, out of gratitude to an Alsatian pastry chef named Mr Kugel who gave them shelter on their travels.
When the origins of a recipe are as hotly contested as this, you know there is going to be plenty of debate about how a proper Kugelhopf is made.
As a lover of tradition, I find this kind of argument totally charming, and completely fascinating. As a baker I choose to basically ignore it all and add NUTELLA!
And that decision making process has never led me astray before. How could it, when I knew that one of the most beautiful things about the Kugelhopf is eating a slice the day after you bake it with a big cup of steaming, milky coffee?
I don’t mean to brag, but I can’t imagine that any traditional Kugelhopf could possibly better with coffee than this version. I’ve tried it. I’m doing it right now. Trust me, it can’t be beat.
The dough here is only very slightly sweet, which is a heavenly foil to the super sweet, super rich nutella which is slathered between the layers of dough. I sprinkled over a few chopped almonds, and they add beautiful texture, but I think hazelnuts might be even better.
I’m also dreaming of a savoury version, maybe something with some lardons of bacon and spring onion. Or something like this gorgeous brioche from Two Red Bowls, who’s style I am absolutely in love with. So what do you think – do you love the traditional or the totally new?
- 2 cups (300g) plain flour
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- ½ cup (125ml) milk, warm
- 2 eggs
- ¾ stick (75g) butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup nutella
- ¼ cup blanched almonds or hazelnuts chopped, with a few reserved whole for the top
- Place the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix together to combine.
- Add the milk and eggs to the dry ingredients and work with a dough hook on a low speed until everything begins to come together.
- With the mixer still running, add the softened butter in small pieces, ensuring that each piece is incorporated before you add more.
- Once all the butter is incorporated, set the dough aside for at least an hour or until it is doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down, and roll it out into a square, about ⅓ inch (just under a cm) thick. Spread the nutella over the dough, and sprinkle over the chopped nuts. Roll the dough up like a swiss roll, and then loop it round into a circle.
- Grease a 20cm bundt or kugelhopf tin well, and drop in the reserved whole nuts. Place the ring of dough into the tin, and set aside again to rise, for at least an hour, or until the dough reaches the edge of the tin.
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C, and bake the kugelhopf for 30 minutes, it will be deep golden, and sound hollow when tapped. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before turning out and leaving to cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack. This is absolutely delicious with a cafe au lait, and toasts beautifully as well.