It’s time for European Cakes week of my GBBO challenge! Yay! And I made this fig and orange kugelhopf! A kugelhopf, or gugelhupf, is a yeast leavened cake usually filled with soaked dried fruit such as raisins or dates. I think it is Austrian, but also native to Germany and Hungary and it’s what inspired the American favourite – the bundt cake! I know what you’re probably thinking – but Michelle, why is the Great British Bake Off doing a European Cakes week? Isn’t that a bit redundant considering Britain is in Europe? Well, maybe. But one thing you should probably know about us Brits is we don’t really consider ourselves real Europe (I think some Brits like to think of us as our own continent sometimes!). Taking a day trip to France? You’re not just going to a neighbouring country, you’re going to “the continent” – it’s like we’re a little village on the outside of a big city! So when you hear Brits talking about “Europe” we most likely mean any European country that isn’t part of our Islands!
This cake was a bit of a challenge for me! This is my first time using yeast to leaven a cake and let me tell you, it’s made me appreciate baking powder a lot more! But this is the way they used to make cakes rise before such wonderful things like baking powder were invented, and Europe sure does love it’s traditions! My first attempt was a big failure, my dough just didn’t rise at all – I baked it anyway though to test the flavours and I ended up with a very dense, malt loaf kind of texture. The flavours were great though so at least I knew I had that part sussed. My mum, however, loved it and she ate almost the whole thing! Which was a little weird, but at least it didn’t go to waste! For my second attempt I tackled it from a different, more cake like way as the first time I treated it like a bread dough and mixed the ingredients as such. And it came out great!
As you might imagine, this cake has more of a fruit bread texture than a cake texture, but it is very light. It’s great eaten warm, fresh from the oven and would be yummy with afternoon tea. It’s also wonderful toasted and eaten for breakfast, it would be amazing with my cinnamon honey butter generously spread on it. This kugelhopf is stuffed full of orange zest and dried figs, the dried figs were soaked in orange juice and spiced rum overnight. I then saved the liquid from that to make a honeyed syrup that I cooked fresh figs and orange segments in to decorate the top, and poured the syrup over the warm cake. There were so many warm, yummy flavours coming from this cake – it’s a definite winner. It’s a bit of long winded process to make this cake but I think it’s worth it, you can however speed up the process a little and I’ll explain how in the notes after the recipe.