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Gugelhupf – A Bite of Delight

Where does the Gugelhupf get its eccentric name? 
And what's the deal with the hole in the middle?

Austria's Favorite


A piece of marbled Gugelhupf, generously dusted with icing sugar, and served with a dollop of whipped cream is Viennese coffee-house culture at its finest. Add a cup of fragrant Melange - coffee with milk and a foam top - and you’ve got yourself a classic Austrian treat. But could it be that the fluffy Gugelhupf is not Austrian at all, despite its star status in Vienna's panoply of traditional pastry?

Some French culinary historians would certainly say so. Not to mention the Italians, who proudly point to ancient Roman Gugelhupf molds, dating back to the 2nd century BCE. It’s a good thing Austrian archaeologists made similar finds in Lower Austria, rooting the Gugelhupf in the place that celebrates it so passionately.
 

An Imperial Cake


They say success has many fathers, and apparently that also applies to cakes. Baking has been around ever since we discovered that heat changes the texture of crushed grain and makes it taste sweeter. Excavated baking molds that still have sponge batter and yeast dough stuck to them tell us that ancient Romans prepared a kind of proto-Gugelhupf. 

From the Middle Ages onwards, there was no stopping the rise of Gugelhupf, which was made from fluffy sponge and airy brioche. The fondness of Austria's Emperor Franz Joseph for Gugelhupf with raisins during the monarchy assured the worldwide fame of Viennese Gugelhupf, and immortalized it in Austria’s culinary history.

 

  • Sachergugelhupf © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt Sachergugelhupf © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt
  • Oil Gugelhupf with aranzini © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt Oil Gugelhupf with aranzini © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt
  • Nut and chocolate Gugelhupf © Österreich Werbung, Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt Nut and chocolate Gugelhupf © Österreich Werbung, Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt
  • Mozart-Gugelhupf © © Österreich Werbung / Wolfgang Schardt Mozart-Gugelhupf © © Österreich Werbung / Wolfgang Schardt
  • Mohngugelhupf © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt Mohngugelhupf © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt
  • Marillengugelhupf © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt Marillengugelhupf © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt
  • Mandelgugelhupf © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt Mandelgugelhupf © Österreich Werbung / Fotograf: Wolfgang Schardt
  • gugelhupf mit sahne © Österreich Werbung/Wolfgang Schardt gugelhupf mit sahne © Österreich Werbung/Wolfgang Schardt
  • Marmorgugelhupf © Österreich Werbung Marmorgugelhupf © Österreich Werbung

Myth and Monks


But what does Gugelhupf - a name that’s almost as fun to say as the cake is to eat - mean exactly? Even native German speakers would be stumped. Maybe it derives from Austrian myth, which gives the Gugelhupf a quaint origin story. Local lore claims that young Capuchin monks, upon joining a monastery, were given a pastry called “cuculla offa.” Cuculla is the Latin word for the monks’ hood, shaped not unlike a Gugelhupf. This word then became “gugele” in Middle High German. And with the addition of the suffix “hopf,” meaning yeast, our Gugelhupf was born.


Positive Use of Negative Space 


If you’ve ever baked a Gugelhupf, you know the finished cake virtually jumps out of the mold when turned upside down, which results in the other theory behind the name: “Hupf” means hop in German. 

You can remove any type of Gugelhupf so easily form the mold because of its recognizable grooves – and the strange hole in the middle. This hole ensure that heat reaches the cake from all sides and bakes the dough uniformly. The spherical bundt mold ensures uniform baking and symbolizes the sun - and, according to ancient belief, happiness. Happiness that comes from enjoying a soft, airy bite of Gugelhupf.

Gugelhupf

Marmorgugelhupf © Österreich WerbungMarmorgugelhupf © Österreich Werbung
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 - 4 tbsp cocoa
  • rum & lemon zest to taste

How to make a perfect Gugelhupf

  1. Preheat your oven to 340°F /170 °C and coat the bundt pan with melted butter.
  2. Whsik the butter with the egg yolk until foamy, add confectioner's sugar and stir until creamy. Add vanilla sugar and some lemon zest.
  3. Beat the egg whites and the white sugar until stiff. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix half with the milk and the egg yolk, then fold in the egg whites and the rest of the flour, alternating between.  
  4. Pour less than half of this mixture into the pan. Add coca and rum to the rest and mix. Pour the darker batter on top of the lighter one into the pan. 
  5. Drag the handle of a wooden spoon through the batter in a wave-like motion to achieve the marble texture. 
  6. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then take the cake out of the pan. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

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