What makes the Gugelhupf special?

The Gugelhupf or Kugelhopf is a bittersweet cake that can contain fruits, nuts, or chocolate and is baked in a circular pan with a funnel in the middle of it. The pan is similar to a fluted shaped pan but differs in size in accordance to its height. According to (source), the German word Gugelhupf translates to Tube or Ring Cake in English. Though similar one must not confuse the Gugelhupf for the Americanized “Ring cakes” because they do differ from each other a bit. The Gugelhupf is a yeast raised cake while the Ring cake uses ingredients such as baking powder and baking soda to help it rise. Think of a Ring as the sweeter and modern version of the Gugelhupf. This German cake is typically made in celebration due to its festive look. With powdered sugar generally topping the cake. 

         Where did the Gugelhupf come from? The Gugelhupf originated in Alsace, France which borders Germany and Switzerland. This being the place of origin one today can see it still holds significant popularity in the region. This cake dates back to the early 16th century. According to America’s Test Kitchen (2018), there is a legend that suggests that the cake was created by a baker named Kugel for the three kings of Alsace. Though many sources say that the Gugelhupf originated in Alsace there is an equal dispute amongst three nations that believe that they are the true origin of the famous cake. The first nation that makes this claim is Austria. According to Sheraton (1998), stating Austrians believe that the cake originated in celebration when the Hapsburg soldiers had defeated the Turks at the city’s gates. This legend doesn’t hold weight mainly due to the fact that there are reports that show that Gugelhupf-like cakes were already being made in other countries at the time. My personal opinion is that the origin of the Gugelhupf is german. This is mainly because Gugelhupf is a German word. The popularity of the Gugelhupf is also most prevalent in Germany today. 

         How is the Gugelhupf made? Well this cake differs from its original form being that others have modified the recipe to more modern ingredients. The traditional recipe of a Gugelhupf will consist of butter, icing sugar, large eggs, flour, dry yeast, vanilla, and milk. Each of these ingredients would have been quite commonly seen in the early 16th century making it a convenient yet popular dish especially for its era. First the icing sugar required for the Gugelhupf. According to America’s Test Kitchen (2018), icing sugar would have been very accessible during this time period being that it was invented in the early 1500’s.  Today, the traditional Gugelhupf that required yeast for it to rise is often seen to be made with baking powder instead for a better consistency. Though the traditional recipe does stand true. Another key component and possibly the most important component to this cake is the pan itself. This ring pan at the time, unlike the accessible ingredients, was quite expensive. This makes it not as available to the everyday common folk due to its price. Normally the Gugelhupf would only be made for people who were of higher status in the land and for celebrations for higher class. The reasoning for its expensive cost is that at the time everything was made by hand and to that shape took quite awhile. Today, this pan obviously is much easier to obtain considering industrialization advancements making the cake’s popularity rise.

         The personal significance of this cake and how it has become a part of my life has its reasons. My family and I have personally never baked this cake but would go to Maurice’s to buy them during the holidays. Maurice’s is a French bakery in Metairie, Louisiana that sells all kinds of different pastries but is known for the Kugelhopf. According to America’s Test Kitchen, (2018), it was opened by French baker Jean-Luc Albin. This bakery has grown much popularity over the years because of their Kugelhopf’s. Their flavors of Kugelhopf’s range from plain almond all the way to Pina Colada. We would always get the almond, blueberry, or the chocolate flavors to bring home for our family. Though we got them for my family we would always make sure to spread the holiday spirit and get all of our friends and neighbors one as well. Every time I get the chance to eat a Kugelhopf I always think back to my childhood self-opening up presents in the living room on Christmas morning. Though it is just a desert it truly does hold a special place in my heart considering how much we ate it during the holidays but also would try and spread joy wth it to others.

Overall, Gugelhupf’s traditional recipe stands strong for many who live in the area of origin. The popularity for this cake has spread especially to the United States and has led to many different variations of the original recipe. This cake has paved the way for many similar deserts including America’s bundt though having similarities do have their differences. This cake being a symbol of celebration has allowed for many families to spread joy including myself. I plan to have another Gugelhupf for this year as it has basically become a tradition in my family. 

Commercial of the Famous Maurice’s Bakery in Metairie Louisiana

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