My friend V. invited me over this week to make a Kugelhof. Kugelhof is a traditional German cake made with yeast, raisins and nuts. The recipe that we used was for a savory one and it turned out more like a cross between a cake and a bread. This whole adventure got started with a recipe from our Italian tutor, who although is Sicilian, grew up in Switzerland. Her recipe called for using pancetta, hazelnuts and onions and it sounded great to us, but we weren’t at all sure about some of the quantities she had listed. She was unavailable for questions (she was in Italy on vacation), so we decided to go with a recipe from Food & Wine that was similar.
I was really pleased with our effort, although the dough took an awfully long time to rise. We started mixing the dough at ten in the morning and it didn’t go into the oven until almost five o’clock! The scent of onions wafted through the house and I couldn’t wait to take a taste. It was perfect served warm with a glass of wine. I loved the combination of the crispy/saltiness of the pancetta with the distinct flavor of the hazelnuts. Next time I’d probably increase the yeast a little in hopes of it not taking the whole day to rise.
1/3 pound pancetta-cut into cubes
1 small onion finely chopped
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (original recipe called for 1)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, softened
2/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts-walnuts or hazelnuts
In a medium skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cubed pancetta and cook, stirring until crispy. Using a slotted spoon remove the pancetta from the pan, set aside and add the onion to the skillet. Cook until softened, but not browned about 5 minutes.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the milk, sugar and yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg and salt and beat at medium speed until blended. Gradually add the flour and and continue beating until the dough is elastic, about 4 minutes. Gradually add the 11 tablespoons of butter, beating until the dough comes cleanly off the sides of the bowl, about 8 minutes. At low speed, beat in the pancetta, onions and nuts until evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2-3 hours.
Generously butter a 9″ kugelhof or fluted tube pan. Punch down the dough, shape it into a ball, make a hole in the center. Set the ring of dough in the pan, cover and let rise until the dough almost reaches the top of the pan, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the kugelhof for 40 minutes, or until golden brown (mine didn’t take quite that long). Transfer the pan to a rack and let it stand for 10 minutes. Unmold and enjoy a piece while it’s warm!
Wrap in foil or plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for a day. Definitely heat it up in the oven before eating. I froze half of it and look forward to enjoying it another evening with drinks.