Across the border from Basel lies the blessed region of Alsace in France, while over the years the Alsatian region has had it’s share of grief as it’s borders have moved back and forth, making it sometimes a part of Germany and sometimes a part of France, as many things that have been tempered by fate, history has brought forth a people that speak Alsatian German, and French, run some brillant restaurants, and make some fantastic food. There is some great wine there – famous Gewurztraminer, riesling, pinot gris and crémant d’alsace and of course the petite camargue I wrote and some great restaurants I wrote about in earlier posts. The Alsace region is blessed with spectacular landscapes, delicious foods , charming villages (Colmar, Ribeauville), renowned restaurants and famous cheese it is also a wine region that can be proud of it’s produce and which begs to be visited during the summer months – there is a wine route that would be worth a trip, if you need any additional incentive. A beautiful and culturally rich area, where you can really enjoy life. Ideally you would book at trip, a honeymoon perhaps, and explore this beautiful region, if however you cannot, the next best thing is to bring something of the region to your home. And that is why I am sharing this recipe with you today. On one of my recent trips I brought back a recipe for Alsatian Kougelhopf. The Kougelhopf is made from a slightly sweetened yeast dough, and the recipe below it contains raisins, soaked in kirsch. It is similar in sweetness maybe to a panettone, but with a very different consistency. It is not a bread, it is not a cake – but what it is is the perfect breakfast treat, with a large milk coffee, or perfect served in the afternoon with a glass of cold Gewurztraminer, a crémant d’alsace or a cotes du jura. All white, all luscious. The swiss have their own recipe for Gougelhopf, as probably do the Germans and the Austrians – and there are salty recipes too that contain either green olives, or ham and are divine, with a glass of wine again if you are having a little soirée in the garden, serving a home-made gougelhopf would likely be very Martha Stewart and très chic!
75 g raisins, 5 cl Kirsch (you could certainly use something else here if you like, the wine you will be drinking for example, or water if you have kids eating), 20cl milk, 20g fresh yeast, or equivalent dried, 600g plain flour, 150g butter, 120g white sugar, 3 free range eggs, some almonds peeled if you have them, powder sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.
Method if using fresh yeast: put the raisins in the Kirsch or other soaking liquid. Meanwhile make the dough. If using fresh yeast, warm your milk + 1 tbsp of sugar (not too much of you will kill the yeast) add the yeast and stir. Sift your flour and make a well in it, pour in the milk /yeast mixture and mix in enough flour to make a soft consistency (you will mix in the rest later), leave this the rise until doubled in volume. Then warm the rest of the milk add the butter, as soon as the butter is soft add to the dough, with the eggs, the sugar, the salt the raisins, which should have soaked up the kirsch and mix into a dough – leave to rise for an hour. Meanwhile take your Kougehlhopf mold butter it VERY generously and place your almonds into the tin, at intervals, if you have a Gougelhopf tin it will be obvious where to put them. If you are using a bundt pan you’ll have to improvise. When your dough is risen, knead it down again and put into the mold and let it rise again until doubled. Place in a preheated 180°C oven and bake for about 45 minutes. If the Kougelhopf is getting too brown cover with aluminum foil. Take out of the oven and the pan, place on a rack, and leave to cool, dust with icing sugar when cold. And then serve to some lucky friends.
If using dried yeast: put the raisins in the Kirsch or other soaking liquid. Mix the yeast the sugar, the sifted flour, the salt, warm the milk and the butter with the eggs and pour into the dry ingredients, make a soft dough and in the raisinssoakedinkirsch, leave to rise until doubled in size. Knead down, butter your tin, place the almonds in the ridges in the tin, put the dough into the tin, leave to rise again until doubled. Bake in 180°C oven for 45 minutes. If the Kougelhopf is getting too brown cover with aluminum foil. Take out of the oven and the pan, place on a rack, and leave to cool, dust with icing sugar when cold. And then serve to some lucky friends.
This was so delicious when I made it last night, that I closed my eyes when eating it, it was that good. Buttery smooth, slightly sweet, I felt like I’d never had anything quite that good before. The recipe is simple, but amazing.
And as I promised I would bring something different and hopefully new to you all to my friend Angie’s Fiesta Friday happening and I promised a Gougelhopf here it is. It is still Friday somewhere in the world, though not at Angies, but in the spirit of things Fiesta Friday goes on until Wednesdays I am still almost, almost on time. Unlike Sir Johnny I am not hip enough to risk the magenta onesy with the white zip, nor fun enough to try the Australian frocks, nor soignée enough to come as Martha Stewart (nor dare I say old enough just yet) I will just cover myself in crocus flowers and come as I am bearing Kougelhopf and of course baring nothing :).