Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Baking and (Sun)burning

If you've ever been to France and never to the Vosges region, you're missing something.

Quiet, peaceful, and oxygen-filled : everything Paris is not. My short weekend in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, small town in the Eastern part of France gave me the opportunity to learn a new cake recipe. As well as getting huge accidental sunburns and eating a lot of groseilles and raspberries, because the garden was full of them:

Apart from visiting my aunt Mimi, which was obviously the main purpose of my going to St Dié, I decided to bake a kougelhof.

"A what??"

A kougelhof is an Alsatian cake, baked in a huge bundt pan. It's moist and simple, with just a few raisins and almonds. The recipe my aunt has been using forever comes from a local baker and has been getting compliments from ever since I can remember.

That's why, on Sunday morning--we were having a family lunch--I decided to try out a kougelhof. What could go wrong with a trusted recipe before my eyes? 

The only problem was, I'm not quite the type to read recipes carefully. So when I see "mix yeast in warm milk" and "add butter to the rest of the milk", the word "rest" sort of sneaks away... 
So the butter went into the yeast + milk, and I only realized this when it was too late--everything was already in the mixer bowl, ready to become a delicious kougelhof dough.

I stayed optimistic, and while we put the cake in the oven at 100°C for an hour to let it rise instead of outside in the sun for 6 hours like you're supposed to (I hadn't gotten up early enough for this part), I was sure the dough would rise.

It did, to some extent. So then began the cooking, and the end result was actually quite nice. Sure, it was a bit drier and definitely more dense than a traditional kougelhof, but it still had that sweet yeasty distinctive taste. Plus, it was still pretty to look at:

Here's the recipe, which I promise turns out perfect if your read it right!

Kougelhof - prep time 40 mins, 6 hours before final baking

Ingredients (in metric this time)

500g flour
250 mL milk
125g butter
20g yeast
2 eggs
125g sugar
100g raisins
100g slivered almonds
powdered sugar

- Melt the yeast in 2 tablespoons warm milk, and make sure the milk stays warm.

- Melt butter in remaining milk in a double boiler.

- Mix flour, salt, sugar, and add eggs. Add milk/butter mixture little by little. Finally, add yeast and raisins.

- Butter the sides of a 1,5L bundt pan, and cover inside of the pan with slivered almonds. Pour in dough, and cover with a clean dishtowel. Keep in a warm place until the dough reaches the top of the pan and overflows a bit, about 6 hours.

-Place in oven at about 325°F / 160°C for 40 minutes, until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

- Dust with powdered sugar and serve.


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Suzy Q-zy said...

oh wow..that looks wonderful! Do you have the recipe in cups measurement? I'd love to try it out!
I've never been to France...have always wanted to go though!

btw..would you mind if I added your blog to my site?

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

I was worried about leaving my Spinach Braid outside to rise because it had eggs in the filling, but I guess if it's okay for this cake then it would've been okay for my braid.

L.E.R said...

how to eat a cupcake: I've noticed that's a huge difference between French and Anglo-Saxon cooking. Whereas the French usually aren't afraid of raw eggs (think chocolate mousse!), it's mostly something American cuisine tries to avoid. But your Spinach Braid looked just as good without going outside :)

Suzy Q-zy said...

the honor would be mine if you'd add my link!
thanks so much for the wonderful compliment!!