Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kugelhopf (Gugelhupf) - eggless but deliciously flaky bread

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? 
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand? 
How do you solve a problem like Maria? 
....
How many of you sit up at the sound (or music) of those words and start to hum along, sing along? One of my favorite movies of all time (I can watch it over and over and over again) - Sound of Music, a true life story of WW times made immortal by Julie Andrews & Christopher Plummer on the big screen. When a total misfit at the convent but very sincere in her ways, music loving Maria comes in to the house of strict, disciplinarian widower with 7 children as a governess, things cannot go well at the beginning with the children refusing to allow any governess to stick around. It is such a beautiful story of love, laughter and music even in the morbid and fearful times of war and uncertainty.
I first read an abridged version of the book when I was in grade school, it was my older brother's 'non-detail (another term for fiction)' book in high school and had always wanted to watch the movie. When I came to study in a convent for the high school years, if there ever was a movie that the nuns would approve of, it was this one :-), though I didn't get a chance to see the movie then, I watched several runs of the adapted school play during the 3 years. The first Christmas season here, strolling the festive looking aisles of the stores, I saw the VHS (video cassettes) displayed prominently (classics always make a come back during the holiday season here, perfect for a gift :-)). With a 2 year old tugging at my knees, although splurging money on movies was not a common thing at the time, I made an exception and indulged myself to buying the cassette. We enjoyed the movie so much and after years of rewind and reruns, it gave up on us and a couple years back, BH bought me a blue ray version of the same :-). Love lives on..

What has Sound of Music got to do with today's recipe? Does it even have anything to do with it at all? Well, if you give me a chance, I will connect the two together :-). In addition to the story, I also fell in love with the beautiful and seemingly endless, snow clad mountains of the little country Austria. If you look up the history of Kugelhopf, it tells you clearly that it is a bread popular in Germany, France, Austria, Hungary, Craotia and Serbia but I chose to conveniently ignore all other countries except for Austria on this recipe :-), sounds totally partial but I am a die hard romantic and also I think Austria clinches ownership of this deliciously buttery, flaky bread because of the following trivia - Gugelhupf was the sweet chosen to represent Austria in the Cafe Europe initiative of the Austrian presidency of the European Union, on Europe Day in 2006. Maybe Maria and the Von Trapp family ate this bread every day with coffee (or was it tea?)..
So now shall we get back to today's recipe? Oh, I guess I was the one running wayward, so let me get myself back here. This recipe came to me as part of the monthly challenges from Eggless baking group. Though I haven't been regular (sorry Gayathri) but trying to bake & post as much as I can given the hectic life right now. As soon as I saw this recipe (I swear that was before I knew the history and its connection to Austria and to Sound of Music :-)), I thought I would make it, for one the amount of butter didn't sound as big as the Austrian mountains and the procedure seemed really simple.

This is an almost 'no-knead' bread, I say almost because you don't plunk the dough on the counter top and start using that familiar back & forth sway motion exercising your biceps. Instead you use a spatula to move the dough around and bring it to a softer, pliable consistency. What I didn't sign up for though was starting off with a hard mass of dough and making it move around in the bowl. It being a Saturday, totally worked in my favor. BH was up after a good night's sleep and was game for helping me out, we took turns turning the dough (he did it for 3 mins and I took the next 30 secs, then back to him and so on.., you get the picture :-)) and as always great team work produces great results.
Bottom line, get the spouse to help you around when making this bread, save yourselves a sore arm later in the day :-).

I used the measurements Gayathri gave but added a few things to make it bit more livelier. I did the conversions from the gms to cups since I do not own a kitchen scale and was a little apprehensive that my measurements may not have been accurate but they were on the mark. The bread is mildly sweet, deliciously flaky with a super texture. I served it with a spoon of orange marmalade on the side as an after dinner dessert for cousins visiting us yesterday. Our little 1 year old niece seemed to enjoy it as did her parents and brother :-).

What do you need to make Kugelhopf? 
3 & 1/3 cups All purpose flour
2 & 1/4 Tsp instant (rapid rise) yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp milk
2/3 cup butter milk
7 Tbsp butter (softened to room temperature)
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tbsp raisins
1/4 Tsp cinnamon powder
How do you make Kugelhopf? 
  • Add flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. 
  • With a spoon or fork mix well and make a hole in the center. 
  • Add milk & butter milk into the hole and gently fold in the flour mixture. 
  • You will get a lightly moist, crumbly mixture.
  • Add the softened butter and mix everything together. 
  • The dough will be a stiff lump at this stage. 
  • Keep moving/mixing the dough with a spatula for 5-7 minutes until the texture softens. 
  • Add cinnamon powder and raisins and give a mix. 
  • Smear soft butter to the inner side of a tube or bundt cake pan. 
  • Put the soft dough in it and level gently. 
  • Cover it with a cling wrap and let it rise for 45mins to an hour or until it doubles in volume and looks light and poofy. 
  • Preheat the oven to 375F, bake the bread for 30-35 minutes (mine took 35min to reach the golden brown all around)
  • Take it out and let it stand on a wire rack for 5 mins before removing it from the pan. 
  • Let it cool completely before slicing. 
  • Enjoy it with a drizzle of honey or butter or a jam.  
 Notes: 
  • Original recipe didn't have cinnamon or raisins, it is my addition. Feel free to skip, however they enrich the bread
  • I added 1 Tbsp additional milk since the dough seemed very hard when I started to move it with the spatula initially. This could have been due to the consistency of my yogurt as I didn't thin it down rather used the home made yogurt by just whisking it with a fork. 
  • Watch the oven towards the end of the bake time as oven temperatures differ.