kugelhopf & Merry Christmas

Well Christmas is here! I can't believe how fast time flies. Every year I decide to make a dozens of traditional recipes, cookies, shortbreads, fruit cake… I just love when my house is brimming with festive scents of cinnamon spices and with the aroma of freshly baked breads wafting out from the oven.

This year, I chose a kugelhopf to start the season, this yeast-risen cake comes from Alsace, the northeastern region of France, a specialty you simply can’t miss out. Legend says that Marie Antoinette, who was born in Vienna, Austria, brought the cake recipe to France upon her marriage to Louis XVI. There are some disputes regarding this, and the cake may have been introduced in France earlier.

The etymology of the word 'kugelhopf' is thought to come from 'Gugelhut', which was the hat worn by parliamentarians in Strasbourg, or from 'kugel' meaning 'ball' and 'hopf', a reference to the raising dough.

One thing's for certain, kugelhopf has always been associated with Holidays; Christmas, Easter, engagements, births and even weddings. Now, it is considered a coffee cake to be eaten as breakfast or as an afternoon snack. Its interior consists of a soft brioche-like cake filled with lots of raisins.

The recipe I attempted is adapted from Gerard Mulot. Mulot's version loads the bread with a mixture of almond syrup, yielding an almost doughnut-like texture. It’s true it’s a bit time consuming but it’s worth it, and the job is made easier if you have an electric mixer with a dough hook.

So, Merry Christmas to you all! Lots of love from Chicho’s kitchen!

350 g flour
10 cl just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
1 tsp salt
30 g sugar
10 g fresh yeast
4 eggs
150 g softened butter + extra for pan
100 g plump raisins
a handful of blanched almonds

For decoration:
3 tablespoons almond syrup
3 tablespoons water
1 tsp of orange blossom water
10 g butter, melted
confectioners' sugar

Wash the raisins, then pat them dry.
Put the yeast and milk in a bowl.

On your work plan, make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then pour in the yeast mixture. Gradually add the flour then salt and sugar and vigorously stir the flour mixture into the well.

Pour the beaten eggs and incorporate them into the flour using your fingers, then start kneading the dough by stretching it vigorously: lift it from the work plan and let it fall for about 5 minutes until the dough no longer sticks. (You can use an electric mixer with a dough hook if you have one)

Add butter cut into chunks and resume working the dough with your fingertips until the dough is smooth.

Stir in the raisins and put the dough in a large bowl. Cover it with a proper cloth and let it double in volume in a warm place for 1 hour.

Punch the dough with the palm of your hand so it deflates and returns to its original volume, then store it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

On a lightly floured work plan, form a ball with the dough. With your floured fingers, make a hole in the middle of the ball and spread the edges slightly to form a crown.

Grease a kugelhopf pan, put the almonds in each groove of the mold. Put the dough inside the mold equally. Cover with a cloth and let rise one last time for at least 1 hour, the dough should double again in size.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and bake the kugelhopf 45 to 50 minutes until the top is brown.

Remove from the mold upside-down and let cool on rack.
In a bowl, mix the almond syrup, water and orange blossom water. Brush the kugelhopf with the flavored syrup, then with the melted butter.
Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Kouglof & Joyeux Noêl

350 g de farine
10 cl de lait entier tiède
1 càc de sel
30 g de sucre
10 g de levure fraîche de Boulanger
4 œufs
150 g de beurre ramolli + un peu pour le moule
100 g de raisins blondsune poignée d’amandes émondées

Pour la décoration:
3 càs de sirop d’orgeat
3 càs d’eau 
1 càc d’eau de fleur d’oranger
10 g de beurre fondu
sucre glace

Lavez les raisins puis séchez-les.
Faites tiédir le lait dans un bol, ajoutez-le à la levure émiettée.
Sur le plan de travail, formez une fontaine avec la farine, ajoutez la levure délayée. Incorporez peu à peu la farine puis ajoutez le sel et le sucre.

Incorporez les œufs du bout des doigts, puis travaillez la pâte plus énérgiquement en l’étirant: soulevez-la du plan de travail puis faites-la retomber 5 à 10 mn. Arrêtez de travailler dès que la pâte ne colle plus.

Incorporez le beurre coupé en petits morceaux, en travaillant rapidement. Arrête dès que la pâte retrouve sa texture lisse et homogène.

Incorporez les raisins et mettez la pâte dans un grand saladier. Couvrez-la avec un torchon proper et laissez-la doubler de volume, dans un endroit tempéré, pendant 1 heure.

Écrasez la pâte avec la paume de la main pour qu’elle se dégonfle et retrouve son volume initial, puis rangez-la au réfrigérateur pendant 2 heures.

Sur un plan de travail légèrement fariné, formez une boule avec la pâte. Avec vos doigts farinés, faites un trou au milieu de la boule et écartez légèrement les bords pour former une couronne.

Beurrez le moule, mettez des amandes dans chaque cannelure et déposez la pâte.
Couvrez avec un torchon et laissez lever une dernière fois, pendant au moins 1 heure, la pâte doit encore doubler de volume.

Préchauffez le four à 180ºC et faites cuire le kouglof 45 mn environ.
Démoulez le kouglof à la sortie du four et laissez le refroidir sur une grille.

Dans un bol, mélangez le sirop d’orgeat, l’eau et la fleur d’oranger. Avec un pinceau badigeonnez le kouglof avec le sirop parfumé, puis avec le beurre fondu.

Saupoudrez de sucre glace et dégustez aussitôt!


  1. Un superbe Kougelhopf! J'adore cette spécialité.

    Mewrry Christmas!


    Rosa xoxo

  2. Very pretty Kugelhopf Cherine, it's one of my favorite sweet bread. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  3. A gorgeous little treat! Merry Christmas!

  4. Beautiful! Merry Christmas to you too!

  5. Quelle chance d'avoir trouvé une recette de Gérard Mulot! Il est magnifique et tu me donnes envie d'en faire un aussi! Joyeux Noêl!

  6. That's a beautiful cake. And, it's perfect for Christmas! Happy Holidays!

  7. A very festive and delicious cake!
    Merry Xmas and happy Holidays!

  8. I love the last 2 pictures...I want to make a kugelhopf too. How very delicious this looks. happy Holidays dear girl, and a Merry Christmas!

  9. Cherine, this looks delicious and festive. Some things are well worth the time they take. This looks like one of them. Have a wonderful holiday. Blessings...Maryew

  10. Cherine, Merry Christmas! The kugelhopf looks very pretty!

  11. Merry Christmas to you too! The cake looks so delicious and perfect for such occasions.

  12. Happy Holidays cherine, I absolutely love cakes with orange blossom or rose water. Yours looks fantastic.

  13. I didn't made kouglof yet, but I'll do it with your lovely recipe!

  14. This must be one of the most gorgeous, perfect Kugelhopf I have ever seen! I adore yeast baking yet Kugelhopf is one thing I have yet to attempt, it just seems so daunting! I will now try this recipe you have offered us. Beautiful! A very Happy Holiday season to you and yours!

  15. This is a beautiful kugelhopf, Cherine! I was just considering making one a couple of days ago. I love that you mentioned about the history of the word, and how it's related to parliamentarians' hats! I'd never heard that before, but it explains everything!

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!
    :) Jane

  16. Just coming from Alsace and I see this..I tell you what? Yours looks much better than many I saw..
    The best for you in 2011 !!


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