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Dorothy and Toto visited me recently.
No, no. Not them.
Dorothy is a Nordic Heritage Bundt Pan*. Toto is a beautiful journal and Dorothy’s faithful traveling companion. Dorothy and Toto travel all over the United States as part of The Peoplehood of the Traveling Swirly Pan, the brainchild of my Super Awesome friend Jenni, of Pastry Chef Online. You can keep up with their adventures on the Peoplehood’s Facebook page.
When Dorothy and Toto landed on my doorstep I was really excited. It is a beautiful pan and I wanted to do something special with it. Never one to go with the flow, I decided I needed to make something Not-a-Cake. I settled on this kugelhopf au lard.
What is a kugel? What Is a Hopf?
Kugelhopf is a yeast-based cake baked in a pan similar to what we call a bundt pan. It’s often a sweet cake enjoyed with coffee. But the elusive savory version is what I was after. And I found it. Oh, how I found it.
It has bread. It has bacon. What more do you need to know?
Well, how to make it would be a good start I guess!
The base for this recipe can be found in Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient*, by Jennifer McLagan. Isn’t fat the staff of life? Or something like that? Never mind. Just try not to scarf down the entire thing before it has a chance to cool.
I altered the recipe significantly. My method and the filling ingredients are mine, but the ratios of flour/fat/yeast/liquid are definitely Jennifer’s, so the credit goes to her.
You Can Do This!
It’s a yeast bread, but please don’t let that deter or intimidate you. If you have a food processor or a mixer with a dough hook you can totally do this. People are often afraid of yeast, as though it’s a delicate flower that will wilt at the slightest touch. Not so. In this recipe (and in every yeast recipe I use) you just throw the yeast in with the dry ingredients. No need to bloom if your yeast is new! It’s just an unnecessary extra step. Check the expiration date on your yeast packet and all should be well.
First, you’ll make the dough. Pour the dry ingredients into the processor or mixer bowl. Spin it around until it’s mixed up pretty well.
Next you’ll add the milk, egg and butter and then process it until it is very soft and sticky, but smooth. At this point you’ll dump it into a greased bowl and let the yeast start working its magic.
While it’s rising, prepare your bacon and veggies. The vegetable ingredients listed in my version of the recipe are great, but feel free to experiment with other things!
After the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a slightly floured counter. work it into a fairly big rectangle and spread the vegetables, the sage and most of the walnuts across it. Fold and knead the bread until the goodies are incorporated.
Grease the bundt pan, and grease it good. Don’t skimp! You’ll thank me later when your gorgeous, perfect bread slides right out. If you want to you can sprinkle some chopped walnuts in the bottom, but that’s optional.
Next you’ll make it into a ball about the diameter of your bundt pan and — here’s the fun part — punch a hole right through the middle of it.
Lower the dough into the pan, so the hole goes right over the center thingy (that’s the technical term for it, right?).
It took a lot longer to rise than I’d anticipated. I made it on a cold day and even though I put it on a chair in front of the fireplace, it took nearly three hours to rise. A slow rise equals a tastier bread though, so I was happy to accommodate the dough! If you’re in more of a hurry you can use a little more yeast or let it rise in a warmer place.
The bread was amazing. Amazing. Like, it took a lot of self control to
- Not cut it when it was hot (you know this is a bread no-no, right?)
- Not to eat the whole thing in one sitting and just tell everyone that I couldn’t share it around after all because it had been a total disaster.
- 500 grams (4 cups) AP flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 8 grams (about 1 packet) dry yeast
- 1 cup milk
- 150 grams (2/3 cup) butter, softened
- 3 eggs, whisked
- 8-12 oz package of bacon, to taste
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 small green pepper, chopped
- 1 small red pepper, chopped
- 1 small orange or yellow pepper, chopped
- a little sage and/or rosemary, to taste
- ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a large food processor. Process until well mixed.
- Pour in the milk. Add the butter a little at a time until it is all incorporated, then add the eggs ⅓ at a time, being sure that each is incorporated before adding the next ⅓.
- Continue to process until the dough is smooth, very soft, and sticky, 3-5 minutes.
- Using some bacon fat or butter, grease a large bowl.
- Tip the dough into the bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
- In the meantime, cook the bacon until it is just crisp. Drain and reserve about 2 tablespoons of the fat.
- In the same pan, cook the onion and peppers in the reserved fat until they soften somewhat. Cut the bacon into rough squares (size to taste) and stir it, along with the herbs, into the vegetable mixture.
- Set the mixture aside to cool.
- When the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn it onto a floured work surface. Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
- Grease Dorothy really well with butter or some bacon fat.
- With well-floured hands, knead the dough a bit and then press it out into a large rectangle.
- Scatter the bacon/vegetable mixture as well as the optional walnuts across the rectangle and then fold/knead it until the mixture is evenly distributed in the dough.
- Form the dough into a ball about the diameter of Dorothy.
- Use your hand to make a hole in the center and then carefully lower the whole thing into Dorothy.
- Cover the pan with a towel and leave it to rise until it's within ¾ of an inch from the top of the pan. It can take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending the the temperature of your house! Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Bake the kugelhopf until it's golden and the cake sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-40 minutes.
- Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes before turning it out of the pan.
- You can serve it warm, but yeast breads always do better if you let them cool completely before cutting.
- Toast a slice and slather it with butter for a piece of pure heaven. It will keep on the counter for 2 or 3 days.
You could certainly make this kugelhopf in something other than a bundt pan, but it wouldn’t have the same Ta-Da effect. I’m thrilled I had the chance to participate in The Peoplehood of the Traveling Swirly Pan. Do hook up with Jenni on the Peoplehood’s Facebook page to follow Dorothy and Toto’s adventures!