I have previously professed my love for Kugelhopf in this post. And a quick browse through this website will reveal my admiration for Rachel Khoo and her delightful cookbook, The Little Paris Kitchen.
So it is no coincidence that I have been just as smitten with Rachel Khoo’s new book, My Little French Kitchen, and particularly with her recipe for Kugelhopf with prunes.
I’m not a big fan of dried fruit in bread and cakes, but I do love prunes, and even more so when they are juicy and plump with liquor. In fact, one of my favourite ways of serving prunes is to soak them in Armagnac before rolling them in a strip of bacon and placing them under the grill until crisp – a wonderful party recipe from Nigella Christmas.
Over the years, I have tried various recipes for Kugelhopf but I think this particular recipe is, hands down, the best I have ever tried. In fact, this Kugelhopf is the best I have ever eaten.
This version is much like a brioche, though less buttery and less sweet, and which, therefore, makes it very moreish. Unlike some Kugelhopf which need to rest for a few hours, or even a few days, before being consumed, this one can be eaten when still warm from the oven. But it tastes just as lovely over the next few days, if you can manage to make it last for that long; my husband and I demolished this Kugelhopf between ourselves within 24 hours.
I’m looking forward to making this Kugelhopf again. In fact, I might make two next time.
Given the butter content, it is easiest to make this Kugelhopf using a stand mixer or a food processor fitted with a dough hook. However, you can, of course, make the dough by hand if you don’t mind a bit of an upper-body workout.
You can substitute the prunes for the same quantity of other dried fruit.
You can also substitute the Armagnac for another liquor. The original recipe calls for Cognac, rum or brandy. If you prefer not to use alcohol, you could instead use fresh orange juice.
The original recipe instructs you to leave the dough in the fridge overnight for the first session of proving. This method often produces a dough with a better texture. I took a shortcut and let the dough rise in a warm oven and found that the texture was perfect.
If you don’t have a Kugelhopf mould, Rachel Khoo suggests making the cake in a loaf tin. I would go one step further and proceed to bake them in a loaf tin as you would make brioche. That is, line the loaf tin with baking paper and scatter the base with whole almonds. After the first session of proving, divide the dough into four pieces and place them side-by-side in the in. Brush with egg wash, cover with a clean teatowel and leave to rise in a warm place as per the recipe. Before baking, use a sharp pair of scissors to make a deep incision in the middle of each section of dough (to create 8 pieces in total), brush with more egg wash and proceed with the recipe.