The Kugelhopf – An Alsatian Brioche

During a trip to the Vosges mountains in Alsace, Anaïs and I decided to indulge ourselves in the pleasures of local food and wines. Besides great memories, we also brought home an alsatian cookbook and a traditional Kugelhopf pan. You’re probably wondering: what on earth is a kugelhopf (pronounced “koo-glof”)?

Actually, it is very similar to a brioche, except you add almonds and raisins. The pan gives kugelhopf its distinctive shape and is made in non-stick ceramic, perfect to bake this kind of dough. We brought the pan in our luggage when we moved from France to Chicago. But don’t worry if you don’t have one, Nordic Ware has a bundt pan made for you.

I used the original recipe from the cookbook, but I adapted it in order to use my sourdough. The sourdough gives a little of acid taste that I balance with some vanilla or orange blossom flavor. I mix 3 different pre-ferments, one with high water content (poolish), one with low water content (biga) and the third made with yeast.

Ingredients for the poolish:
  • 15g ripe sourdough or 1g dry yeast or 3g fresh yeast
  • 30g water or milk
  • 15g white organic flour
Ingredients for the biga:
  • 15g ripe sourdough or 1g dry yeast or 3g fresh yeast
  • 30g water or milk
  • 60g white organic flour
Other ingredients:
  • 20g cognac
  • 100g raisins
  • Poolish and Biga
  • 300g white organic flour
  • 60g sugar
  • 7g salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 10g fresh yeast or 2g of dry yeast
  • 40g milk
  • 115g butter
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or orange blossom water
  • 80g almonds
Day 1 – Morning

Separately mix the ingredients for the biga and for the poolish. Cover with a plastic film and let it rest at ambient temperature for about 4 hours.
Pour the raisins on the cognac, fill the container with water if needed.

Day 1 – Evening

Let the butter to rest at ambient temperature.
Mix the poolish with 30g of flour and 5g of sugar, let it rest for about another hour.

When the poolish is ready put it in the mixer with the biga, 1 egg, 25g of flour and 20g of sugar. Mix until smooth and shiny then let it rest for another 1/2 hour.

Meantime, prepare the last preferment by mixing the yeast with the honey 15g of milk and 20g of flour.

Finally mix the last preferment with the other one and mix with the remaining flour (225g), 40g of sugar and the last egg.

Mix 3-5 mins at average speed, then add the butter – one third at the time – the salt, and finally the raisins after having removed the cognac, until everything is well incorporated. Cover with plastic and let it proof in the fridge overnight.

Day 2 – morning

Remove it from the fridge and let it rest for about 1 hour at ambient temperature. Coat the Kugelhopf or Bundt pan with a thin layer of butter and place some almonds on its bottom. Move the dough in the pan and let it proof until doubles in size (at least 3 hours).

Bake for 15 mins at 360ºF (180ºC) then other 40 minutes at 320ºF (160ºF). Reverse on a cooling rack, and let it cool at least 1 hour, add some powdered sugar on top.

Tasting tips: Kugelhopf is usually served for breakfast spread with fruit jam or just plain. But who says you can’t have a slice for goûter?

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