So, last week we were in North Carolina visiting our daughter and her family. Angie and I decided to go to some antique shops. As I was glancing at a wall, I said, "I don't believe it!" There it hung. I quickly walked forward and looked at the tag and it said it was a "jello mold." No way. This was not a jello mold, but an absolutely perfect, copper Kugelhopf mold. I explained to my daughter and the shopkeeper, my long time search for this Alsatian pan. My daughter grabs it out of my hands and says "Happy Mother's Day." Perfect, just a perfect find, and thank you, Angie.
So then, the next search was for the recipe that was most similar to the one I ate for breakfast each day while we stayed at the B&B in Alsace. That was a little easier since it ended up that the cookbook in my kitchen had the perfect recipe. Susan Herrmann Loomis and French Farmhouse Cookbook had just what I wanted.
Kugelhopf is a sweet, raisin studded bread that is the signature pastry of Alsace and every pastry shop in the region proudly displays this in their windows. Serve it as a late afternoon snack with coffee or for breakfast.
Alsatian Coffee Bread
Kugelhopf from Susan Herrmann Loomis
3/4 cup (125 g) golden raisins
2 tablespoons kirsch (I used apricot brandy)
1 cup milk heated to lukewarm
1 scant tablespoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar (vanilla sugar is preferred)
3 3/4 cups (500g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces, room temperature
About 1 hour before you plan to bake, combine the raisins and kirsch in a small bowl. Stir and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid bowl), combine the lukewarm milk and the yeast. Stir, then add the vanilla sugar and stir well. (NOTE:) I had half the amount of sugar needed in vanilla sugar that I brought back from France last year. It comes in packets. I then added regular sugar to get the full 150 grams.
Let this sit for 5 minutes, until the yeast begins to foam. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly combined. Then gradually add the flour and salt, mixing well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be quite sticky. Continue mixing the dough using the wooden spoon or your hands until it is quite elastic, about 10 minutes. This takes about 5 minutes in an electric mixer.
Gradually add the butter piece by piece, kneading until it is well incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic and comes cleanly off the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes or 2-3 with an electric mixer.
Mix in the raisins until they are evenly distributed. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm spot until it has nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the down and knead it briefly to remove all the air. Then let rise again until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Heavily butter a 6 cup kugelhopf mold and place the almonds in the indentations in the bottom of the mold. Punch down the dough and place it in the mold as evenly as possible. Let rise until it reaches the top, about 1 hour. (If you don't have a kugelhopf mold, use a 6 cup souffle dish. Place the dough in the souffle dish and arrange the almonds on top of the dough.) Susan Loomis says that 17 almonds are needed in the bottom of the typical kugelhopf mold. I only had room for 16, but believe me, I am not typical either.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the kugelhopf in the center of the oven until it is golden and sounds hollow when the mold is tapped, 1 hour.
Remove the mold from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Unmold the kugelhopf and let it cool on a wire rack. Dust it with confectioners sugar before serving. If you used a souffle dish, cool the kugelhopf almond side up on a wire rack and serve so that the almonds are showing.
You will see that there is a lot of time spent rising; 4 hours and 1 hour baking. I am not fond of raisins in anything, but this is one way that is easy to tolerate them.
I have started baking using a food scale and I am so loving it. Using it today, set to grams, I was reminded of my grandmother's old green scale that she used with her baking. I truly think it makes a difference.
Ready for the oven
The next time, I will reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and watch it carefully to see if it is baking correctly. Ovens vary a lot and I have found that most baking recipe are simply a guide and you need to check frequently to see what is working for you.