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Poppy Seed Kugelhopf

Jane Winspear from United States

Serves
8
Preparation
2 hrs.15 min.
Cooks in
40 min.
Country of origin
Germany

If I was stuck on a desert island and could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would take me a heartbeat before choosing bread. All of humanity could agree that there’s something so indulgently simple about breathing in the sweet aroma of a fresh-out-of-the-oven loaf of bread. Just thinking about the sight of butter melting into a warm slice makes my mouth water. For 30,000 years people around the world have experienced the euphoria of bread making and eating: naan, tortillas, pita, baguettes, ciabatta, and yes, even kugelhopf.
A kugelhopf is a sweetened bread, typically flavored with raisins and almonds, baked in a ring-shaped mold, usually dusted with powdered sugar. It’s heartbreaking to admit this, but I’ve never been to Germany to taste an authentic bit of this deliciousness. I’ve never traveled anywhere to be completely real with you. But I’ve done a lot of reading in my time, so I feel that I can write a story to make you believe I have a memorable bond with this bread. Here goes-
When I was 21 my love of the visual arts sent me on a journey. I was to see the Sistine chapel in the flesh. I was to gaze upon the Mona Lisa with my own eyes. I was to swim the turquoise waters off the shore of Greece and dine on authentic Italian pasta carbonara. My best friends from the art department had joined me in planning the dream tour of Europe where we’d let our inner cultured selves stretch their wings and soar. We’d land in France, work our way up to Berlin, and end in Italy before returning to real life in Idaho.
The trip was a whirl wind of eye candy. The paintings were unreal, the sights were breathtaking, it was everything I’d longed for. I can’t even begin to describe the food. The one taste I can’t seem to forget was experienced at Zeit fur Brot, a tiny bakery next door to the hostel we stayed at in Berlin. I was exhausted from glorious travel and this perfect bite of cakey bread renewed my vigor to press on. Soft. Warm. Homey. Thank God for BREAD.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. water, warm (105-115 degrees F)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Powdered sugar

Method

  • 1. Stir together yeast, water, and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl. Set aside to proof five to ten minutes.
  • 2. Heat milk with butter and sugar over low heat, stirring until mixture is warm, sugar has dissolved and the butter is melted.
  • 3. Stir together flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well and add the yeast mixture. Stir loosely. Add warm milk in a slow stream, mixing at low speed in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Increase speed to medium and beat in eggs, one at a time.
  • 4. Beat in raisins, lemon juice and poppy seeds. Continue to beat five minutes, until dough is smooth, elastic, and very sticky.
  • 5. Butter kugelhopf mold with remaining tablespoon of butter. Toss sliced almonds around the bottom of the mold until they’re evenly distributed. (Almond step is purely for decoration and can be skipped.) Drop portions of dough evenly into the mold, covering the almond layer. Cover top of mold with oiled plastic wrap and a kitchen towel to rise in a warm place until the pan is filled, about two hours.
  • 6. Preheat oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit. Remove towel from kugelhopf and gently peel off plastic wrap. Bake kugelhopf in middle of oven for fifteen minutes. At this point, loosely cover mold with foil and continue to bake until golden and a tester inserted comes out clean, 20-25 minutes more.
  • 7. Cool cake in pan for 2 minutes, then invert onto a rack (removing the pan) to cool completely, about 1 hour. Dust with confectioners sugar to pretty up for service.

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