Kugelhopf was definitely a must-try when I was visiting Alsace with my sister: this yeasted, bundt-type pastry is emblematic of this part of the world. Versions of kugelhopf (with various spellings) are made in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Poland. As a member of the not-too-sweet category of pastries, it was right up my alley.
(Also, culinary anthropologists believe it was designed to look like a medieval hat. A hat cake is definitely something I want to try.)
If we’d stayed in Strasbourg longer, we probably would have sampled several of these, but seeing as Little Sister and I have a tendency to over-commit ourselves when it comes to food we’re trying on our travels, we opted to just try one: the version from Thierry Mulhaupt. It had received excellent reviews, and frankly, I was quite pleased with our choice.
Firstly, instead of being coated in powdered sugar, like so many versions of this cake, it had a granulated sugar coating: not only did this add a welcome crunch to the cake, it also made for a far less messy eating experience (and seeing as we ate it on a bench outside the shop, this did not go unnoticed).
Inside, the pastry had a light, moist crumb flavored with a touch of Kirsch and just enough raisins to add a hint of sweetness without being overwhelming. (Raisins used to fall into the category of the three things I would never, ever eat, but now I’m willing to eat reasonable quantities of them, [read: 3].)
If you’re not planning a visit to Strasbourg any time soon, you can still give kugelhopf a try: the chef’s recipe is available online (along with a video showing you the proper way to work the dough). If you don’t have a traditional Alsatian kugelhopf pan, I bet a bundt pan would work just fine!
Thierry Mulhaupt – 18 Rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons, Strasbourg