You guys. Can you believe it’s already time for the July edition of #bundtbakers?
Time flies when you’re baking bundts.
This month’s theme is stone fruit, and I immediately knew I wanted to do something with cherries. I also thought that it might be fun to try something a little different this time around. I was recently researching the history of the bundt cake and learned that Kugelhopf is basically the bundt cake’s great-grandpappy, so I thought it would be really interesting to play with a version this old world classic.
The birth story of the bundt pan all started with some members of a Jewish women’s group called Hadassah who were looking for an alternative to expensive imported kugelhopf molds. Nowadays it’s not hard to find inexpensive metal kugelhopf pans, but they’re traditionally made in Europe from heavy, fragile terra cotta, and in the 1950s they were extremely hard to come by here in the states. Some members of the group approached a young inventor named H. David Dalquist who had recently formed a cookware company called Nordic Ware. They commissioned him to make a lighter, cheaper version of the pans they used to use in the old country. One of the ladies had a traditional mold they lent him as a prototype and he crafted a similarly shaped pan out of lightweight aluminum. Originally he called it a “Bund” pan, based on a German word that loosely translates to, “a gathering of people”. He later added the “t”, making it “bundt”, to avoid confusion with a controversial German-American social club.
Nordic Ware and their pans were moderately popular throughout the 50s with Hadassah members, but the bundt pan didn’t really take off and become the ubiquitous phenomenon we know them to be today until the late 1960s. In 1966 a woman from Texas won the Pillsbury Bake-Off with a recipe she called the “Tunnel of Fudge” that called for Nordic Ware’s patented pan. After that every housewife in America had to have a new bundt pan in their cupboard.
Being a self-proclaimed Bundt enthusiast, I found this history to be totally fascinating. It also made me really curious. I started looking into the Kugelhopf and found that depending on where you are and who you ask, it’s also known as Gugelhupf, guguluf, or kuglóf. Depending on the region, the recipe changes too. It can range from dry and bread-like, sometimes even salty or savory in some places, to fruity, dense and just barely sweet in others. Wherever you are though, this is a yeast leavened cake or loaf that’s usually studded with raisins and nuts. Since it’s not especially sweet, it’s often eaten with breakfast or as a snack, usually spread with unsalted butter.
This kugelhopf though, strays pretty far from old-world heritage. I based it on a traditional Austrian/German recipe, but took a few liberties to make it fit my purpose. I don’t really care for raisins in baking, and usually prefer to use dried cranberries or cherries in their place. In this case I decided to go for fresh cherries that I oven-roasted to concentrate their flavor. I was also hoping for something a bit more bundt-like than bread-like so I made a few changes to make the recipe just a bit sweeter and richer. I went ahead and added a splash or two of bourbon too, because, why not? Traditionally kugelhopfs are just dusted with powdered sugar, but to make sure it wouldn’t need to be spread with butter, I topped mine off with a very non-traditional cherry bourbon glaze.
To ensure the kugelhopf is nice and moist, I think it benefits from a soak. For this, you could make a plain old simple syrup, or add some sort of flavoring or extract to a syrup. After roasting the cherries I was left with some of their syrupy juices and thought I’d use that for my soak along with some butter and maybe another splash of bourbon.
I also think that this recipe improves with a day’s rest. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this was pretty damned great on the first day, but seemed to be the teeeeeniest bit dry to me. For some reason, the second day this was no longer an issue. I’m not sure if it was the cherries, the soak, or the glaze but somehow the bread-y body of this cake was borrowing moisture for some other component. The crumb seemed more moist, the flavors better developed, and the whole concept better realized on the day after baking. So, if you have the time and the foresight to make this a day ahead, do that. Just cover it tightly and hide it away somewhere at a cool room temperature.
In the end all my efforts really paid off. Using oven-roasted fresh cherries in place of raisins was nothing short of genius. (That’s right, I just called myself a genius). The cherries are soft yet chewy and bursting with a bright deeply-concentrated fruity flavor, and adding bourbon while they roast adds a rich warmth and depth. Of course, if you wanted to use dried cherries instead, I think that they’d work really well too, especially if you reconstitute them in bourbon first. The roasted cherry juice and the egg yolks gives the cake a rich soft crumb, and the sliced almonds add a really nice soft bite. All these flavors in combination are so totally warm and homey with a perfect old-world feeling.
The kugelhopf itself is a bit sweeter than traditional ones, but it’s still a restrained just-barely-sweet sweetness. The texture is somehow softer than bread, but chewier and doughier than cake. It’s almost similar to the texture of a cinnamon roll, if that makes any sense.
Since this still remains relatively bread-y, this kugelhopf would be perfect served at a breakfast get together or a brunch. Of course, it still feels very much like dessert, so feel free to serve it as you would any other cake. No matter how or when you eat it, you’re going to want to go back in for seconds.
If you love summer produce and cherries and all kinds of stone fruit, please be sure to scroll down past the recipe and check out all the other mouthwatering stone fruit themed bundt cakes. They all look unbelievable and I wish I could have a slice of each and every one of them. Thank you so much to our hosts, Felice of All That’s Left Are The Crumbs and Stacy of Food Lust People Love, for choosing this months theme and organizing our efforts.
Roasted Cherry Kugelhopf with Cherry Bourbon Glaze
Adapted from David Lebovitz
1 1/2 lb sweet cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bourbon
Preheat the oven to 400. Wash, pit and quarter your cherries. Toss the quartered cherries in the sugar, salt, and bourbon to coat. Spread evenly over a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for 20 to 25 minutes. Toward the end, watch that the cherry juices don’t burn.
Fit a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, and scrape or pour the cherries into to the strainer. Leave the cherries in the strainer for a few minutes to allow the juices to drip and collect in the bowl. Reserve the juice and the drained cherries in separate bowls.
½ cup milk
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast (not instant)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bourbon
2 teaspoons reserved cherry juice
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sliced almonds, divided
One 6- to 9-cup kugelhof pan (or you can use a bundt pan)
Make the sponge by warming the milk over low heat in a small saucepan until it’s tepid. Pour into a bowl, and mix in the yeast then the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
In a standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with sugar and salt until soft and light, about 3 minutes. Mix in the orange zest, vanilla, 2 teaspoons cherry juice, and 1 teaspoon of bourbon. Next, add the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the sponge, then beat another minute.
Add the flour and mix on low speed for 2 minutes and let rest for 10 minutes.
Beat on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes.
Slowly beat in the cherries and 1/2 cup of the almonds. Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl and turn it so the top is buttered. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 to 30 minutes.
Butter the kugelhof mold well, and the scatter another 1/2 cup of sliced almonds over the inside of the mold, turning to coat it evenly. Scrape the dough into the kugelhof mold and cover with a towel or buttered plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about an hour or maybe a bit longer.
About 15 minutes before the dough is fully risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the kugelhof until it’s a deep golden brown, about 40-45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack.
Soak and Glaze:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons bourbon
remaining reserved cherry juice
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
To make the soak; combine butter, bourbon, & cherry juice in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and whisk to combine. Measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture for the soak and set aside. Add remaining sugar to the liquid to make the glaze, and whisk to combine. Add more sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, if you want a thicker glaze. After kugelhopf is removed to a wire rack, brush the soak all over the top and sides. Let it cool at least 30 minutes before drizzling or pouring the glaze evenly over the top. While glaze is still wet, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of almonds over the top.
If possible, allow the kugelhopf to rest for a day, tightly covered at room temperature, before slicing and serving.
Check out all of these delicious sounding stone fruit based bundts. What a perfect theme to celebrate all the wonderful fresh fruit the summer has to offer.
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