Featuring rum or kirsch-soaked raisins, whole almonds and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, this traditional Kugelhopf recipe makes for a fantastic holiday treat!
This post may contain paid links. For more information, please see our disclosure policy.
Our son came home from school the other day and said he was learning about holiday traditions in other countries. His homework was to write down our own holiday traditions and then think about adding a tradition from another country.
Baking Christmas cookies is a holiday tradition in our house, and that got me thinking about holiday baking traditions in other counties. After some discussion, we decided to make Kugelhopf together. This is a fun (and tasty!) way to appreciate the holiday traditions in other countries! After all, baking is one of those things that truly crosses international borders.
What is Kugelhopf?
Kugelhopf (also spelled kugelhupf, gugelhupf or kugelhoph) is a traditional holiday bread popular in Austria, Germany and the Alsace region of France. This yeasted sweet bread is filled with rum-soaked raisins and almonds. Perhaps the most iconic element of Kugelhopf is the pan. A Kugelhopf pan is similar to a Bundt pan, but the sides of a Kugelhopf pan are steeper with more pronounced edges.
In Europe, it’s common to find Kugelhopf pans made of earthenware. As these aren’t common in the United States, I went with a non-stick Kugelhopf pan instead. (I actually purchased this pan several years ago, but I hadn’t gotten around to using it yet. No time like the present!) If you don’t have a Kugelhopf pan, the good news is you can use a Bundt pan in a pinch. In fact, the Bundt pan design was actually based on a Kugelhopf pan.
As noted above, Kugelhopf itself is a sweet bread. It is yeasted, and it’s definitely more on the bread side than cake side. Like many European baked goods, this bread isn’t overly sweet. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a sweet bread. However, it’s not as sweet as say an American-style coffee cake. This bread is typically served for breakfast, and it is quite similar to a French brioche.
The bread is filled with almonds and rum-soaked raisins, and there is a noticeable citrus element thanks to the zest of a large orange. In short, it’s quite tasty!
In the United States, it’s common to find Kugelhopf long after the holiday season. They’re hanging out with the panettone and stollen on the 90% off clearance rack in many grocery stores. I gave in to temptation one year, and I picked one up. It was stale and tasteless – no wonder they’re always piled on the clearance rack!
This homemade Kugelhopf turned out really well. Robbie and I enjoyed learning about the holiday baking traditions in another country, and I dare say that baking Kugelhopf might have to become a new yearly tradition in our house now. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Happy baking!
How to Store Kugelhopf
This bread is best eaten the same day it is baked. However, leftovers can be lightly toasted with butter for a delicious treat. To store leftover Kugelhopf, let it cool completely and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.
You can also freeze this bread for up to 3 months. If you go the freezer route, you’ll likely want to toast the leftovers with a bit of butter. (It also makes for fantastic French toast!)
Did you make this recipe at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see your version!
- Using a small bowl, stir together the raisins, kirsh or rum and water; let soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Using the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add flour, yeast, sugar, salt and heavy whipping cream. Mix on low speed for 1 minute and then increase speed to medium speed for 3 more minutes.
- Add egg; mix on low speed until well combined.
- Add butter; mix on low speed until well combined.
- Drain raisins and add to the mixing bowl along with orange or lemon zest; mix on low speed until well combined. (Tip: Scrape down sides of the bowl to ensure the dough is well mixed.)
- Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a dry kitchen towel; place bowl in a warm place and let dough rise for 1½ hours, or until approximately doubled in size.
- Transfer dough onto a lightly floured cutting board; fold dough several times and place back in bowl. Cover with dry towel and let rise for 45 more minutes.
- Soak almonds in hot water for 1 minute.
- Grease a traditional kugelhopf mold or Bundt pan. Drain almonds and place 1 almonds into each depression in the bottom of the mold. (If using a Bundt pan, place almonds in the grooves of the pan.)
- Using your hands, make a hole in the center of the dough. (Note: The hole should be large enough to go around the center of the kugelhopf mold or Bundt pan.) Place dough into prepared mold or pan.
- Cover with a dry towel and let rise for 45-90 more minutes, or until dough rises and mostly fills the pan.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
- Immediately turn kugelhopf out onto a wire rack; let cool completely.
- Before serving, dust the top lightly with confectioner’s sugar.
Looking for other European holiday recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: