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.