KOUGELHOF

YI ELD |

2 ME DI U M ( 6 - I NC H ) O R 1 LA R G E

( 9 - I NC H ) KOU GE L H OF

B A SE T E MPERAT URE |
INGREDIENTS POOLISH WEIGHT M E A S U R E ( A P P R O X I M AT E ) OR OUNCE WEIGHT

6 0 °C

Whole milk (3.5% fat) Dry yeast All-purpose flour
DOUGH

50 grams 12 grams 50 grams

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons 1 tablespoon plus h teaspoon b cup

Golden raisins Kirschwasser Granulated sugar Bread flour Whole eggs Whole milk (3.5% fat) Sea salt Butter (French style, 82% fat) Whole almonds Water Butter (French style, 82%), softened, for greasing molds Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

120 grams 10 grams 80 grams 450 grams 125 grams 125 grams 10 grams 150 grams 40 grams 50 grams As needed

c cup 1 tablespoon a cup less 1a tablespoons 3a cups plus 1 rounded tablespoon About 2a extra-large eggs a cup plus 2 teaspoons 1h teaspoons 5o ounces 28 almonds Scant h cup As needed

BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Get out the following equipment and allow all of the ingredients to come to room temperature (except for the milk):
Digital scale, set to metric weights KitchenAid or stand mixer fitted with

As needed

As needed

Kougelhof is the signature bread of Alsace, the region’s celebration bread par excellence. Rare is the Alsatian family that does not buy or make a kougelhof on a Saturday, which means that bakers are extremely busy every weekend. A brioche-type bread filled with kirsch-soaked golden raisins, studded with almonds, and dusted with confectioners’ sugar, kougelhof is not as rich as Parisian brioche; there’s less butter in it. Over centuries of on-and-off occupation by the Germans, Alsatians learned to be frugal. What distinguishes kougelhof from other brioches is its shape—it has a hole in the center—and the fact that it’s baked in a glazed ceramic mold. These molds have been used in Alsace since the Middle Ages.

the hook attachment 1 rubber spatula 1 small bowl 1 dough scraper Plastic wrap or a damp hand towel 1 pastry brush One 9-inch or two 6-inch ceramic or silicone kougelhof molds 1 sheet pan

Read this recipe through twice from start to finish.

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METHOD
1 Make the poolish with a base temperature of 60°C. (See PAGE 23 for an

UNDERSTANDING INGREDIENTS
The reason why I choose to use two different flours is that bread flour in the United States has a very strong gluten content that can make the dough rubbery and the bread chewy. All-purpose flour contains less gluten and will prevent this from happening. Soaking the raisins in kirsch is not necessary, but it adds the distinctly Alsatian flavor. If you don’t use kirsch, substitute with water to moisten the raisins before adding them to the dough. This moisture will then transfer to the dough and keep the kougelhof fresh. Salt controls the action of the yeast by slowing down the speed of the fermentation: too much salt would prevent the dough from rising; not enough would allow the dough to ferment out of control. Never sprinkle the salt straight onto the yeast, as this will kill the yeast. Kougelhof contains less butter than brioche, but it will still be very moist, especially during the first 48 hours after baking; after that it tastes great toasted. As with all brioche doughs, it is very important that the butter be soft before you try to work it into the dough. You can leave it out the night before or microwave it for 5 to 10 seconds (be sure not to melt it, though).

explanation of base temperature.) Let’s say that your room and flour are both 20°C (68°F): add room temperature + flour temperature (20°C + 20°C) = 40°C. Subtract the sum from the base temperature of 60°C: 60°- 40°= 20°. This means that your milk should be heated to 20°C (68°F). Adjust the 50 grams of milk to the right temperature. Place it in the bowl of your stand mixer and add the yeast. Stir together. Sprinkle the all-purpose flour over the top. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, until cracks form on the surface of the flour. This signifies that the yeast is fermenting. This liquid fermentation is called a poolish, and acts a little like a starter to jump-start the action of the yeast.
2 Place the raisins in a small bowl and add the kirsch. Toss together and set

aside. If not using kirsch, toss the raisins with a tablespoon of water.
3 Adjust the rest of the milk to the right temperature. Add the sugar, bread

flour, eggs, the rest of the milk, and lastly the sea salt to the bowl of your mixer. Attach the hook to the mixer and mix on slow speed for 1 minute. Stop the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure that all the ingredients on the bottom of the mixer get mixed with the rest of the dough. If for some reason the dough looks very stiff, add a tablespoon of milk; if the dough is too soft, add a little bit of all-purpose flour.
4 Turn up the speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes on medium speed.

Stop the mixer and, using a dough scraper, scrape the sides of the bowl as well as any dough that has worked its way up the hook. This will help the dough to come together faster. Repeat this twice—5 minutes on medium speed, stop and scrape the sides of the bowl and the dough hook, then another 5 minutes. The dough should now be shiny, elastic, and wrapped around the hook. The gluten has now been activated. Only when the dough has reached this stage can it absorb the next addition, which is the soft butter.
5 Make sure that the butter is at room temperature and soft; you might want

to let it sit outside the night before making the dough, or you can microwave it for 5 to 10 seconds but do not melt. Add half of the soft butter and mix on medium speed for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the butter is incorporated. Add the rest of the soft butter and mix for about 3 to 5 more minutes on medium speed, until the butter is completely incorporated. The dough should again be smooth and elastic.
6 Drain the raisins if there is any liquid in the bowl, and add them to the

dough. Knead in by hand if easier, or mix on a slow speed to incorporate. Mix the raisins or knead for 1 minute only to avoid crushing them, until they are evenly incorporated. Remove the dough hook, sprinkle a very small amount
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of flour on the surface of the dough, and cover the bowl with a damp towel

Kougelhof Molds
Each time you make kougelhof the ceramic mold absorbs the scent of your baking bread, and this contributes to the flavor of your next batch. The bread bakes slowly in the ceramic, allowing a golden crust to form. That’s why it’s important to use pottery and not something like a metal Bundt pan, which would bake the bread too quickly. Although we schlepp the molds back from Alsace for the French Pastry School, you can find ceramic kougelhof molds or monkey bread molds online through retailers. If you want to order them directly from Alsace, there is a site called www.alsace-depot.com that will ship. You can also bake them in a kougelhof silicone mold sold through

or with plastic wrap. Set in a warm spot (not hotter than 80.6°F/27°C or the butter will melt out of the dough) and let rise until double in volume, 1 to 1a hours. You can create a makeshift proofer if your oven does not have a pilot light by placing a small pan filled halfway with freshly boiled water on the oven floor and the bowl inside the oven. Make sure the temperature does not exceed 80.6°F/27°C.
7 While the dough is rising, soak the almonds in the water in a small bowl. 8 Using softened butter and a pastry brush, grease your kougelhof molds.

Should you use a silicone mold, you will not need to grease it. Drain the almonds and place on the bottom of the kougelhof molds, between each crease, with the pointy ends facing the center (otherwise they will burn during baking).
9 When the dough has doubled in volume (but not height), place it on a

lightly dusted work surface. If making 2 breads, cut the dough in half using the flat edge of a scraper. Cup the dough with your hands on either side and shape it into a ball by making clockwise circular motions. At all times the sides of your hands should be touching the table. Make a hole in the center with your thumb. Place the dough in the mold and press it down so that it makes contact with the almonds. Repeat with the second piece of dough and the second mold. If you do not have 2 molds and want to make 2 breads, place the other half of the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate. When you are ready to bake it, allow it to come to room temperature and reshape as above.
10 Cover the mold with plastic wrap or a towel. Let the dough rise at room

www.demarleathome.com, which is a great and very practical option, though of course you won’t have the patina that a ceramic mold develops. Yeast breads are not normally baked in ceramic molds, but in Alsace we have been baking our kougelhof this way since the Middle Ages. In addition to the classic couronne with the hole in the middle, the old ceramic molds come in many different shapes, each one symbolizing a specific holiday. There are fleurs-de-lis for rich kings, stars for the Christmas holidays, lambs for Easter, couples for marriages, and more. I have been collecting antique Alsatian molds for years, beginning with the black ceramic kougelhof mold that I salvaged from my father’s bakery on the day that it was sold.

temperature until it doubles in size, about 1a hours. Do not allow the dough to get too warm (the temperature should not exceed 80.6°F/27°C).
11 Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and adjust the rack to one lower than

the middle level. Place the kougelhofs on a sheet pan, leaving at least 2 inches of space between them.
12 Bake for 1 hour for a 9-inch kougelhof, 50 minutes for 6-inch kougelhofs.

If the top begins to get too dark before the end of baking, cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. Remove from the oven using oven mitts and flip over onto a wire rack. Remove the breads from the molds and allow the kougelhofs to cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar and serve.
N OT E :

Never wash ceramic molds; just wipe them clean while still warm with

a paper towel. They will take on the wonderful aroma of baked kougelhof in
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THE ART OF FRENCH PASTRY

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IT’S DONE WHEN IT’S DONE
When baked, the almonds on the top surface should be crunchy; the top of the kougelhofs should be golden brown while the bottom should be darker.

STORAGE
The baked kougelhof is good for 2 days at room temperature wrapped in a towel or a cloth bread bag; it can be frozen for 1 month. As a general rule, if you need to wrap a baked bread with plastic wrap, always ensure that it has cooled completely to room temperature. This can easily take 1 hour for a loaf of bread. Otherwise the leftover steam will be trapped in the plastic and the crust will become completely wet. In France, we usually don’t wrap bread in plastic wrap; every family has a cloth bread bag.

j a c q u y ’s ta k e away s
The rule of thumb for yeast doughs is that you fill your pan halfway full with dough. This will leave enough room for it to rise. Never, ever refrigerate bread. Refrigerating bread causes it to become soggy. Bread molds faster in the refrigerator than it does when kept at room temperature because there is usually more moisture inside a refrigerator then outside of it. The bread will also pick up smells from your refrigerator. You can now get silicone molds for kougelhof from the company Demarle. They’re a great alternative to the ceramic molds, especially if you want to make small kougelof as they also come in a sheet of individual pieces. I recommend using 75 grams of dough per individual mold. www.demarleathome.com

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