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What is Gugelhupf?

By Janis Adams
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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A rich butter bread, gugelhupf is a sweet dessert that turns a rich mahogany when baked. Though most often thought of as a cake, gugelhupf is technically a bread. It is most often served along with a strong cup of coffee.

Baked in a pan similar to a bundt pan, gugelhupf is ring shaped. Gugelhupf pans are traditionally made from enameled pottery, where the bundt pan is most often created from cast iron. The light enameled pan is often easier for a baker to work with; however, many people who do not have a true gugelhupf pan will simply substitute a bundt pan, as both pans produce the unique ring shape.

The ring-shaped bread is also referred to as napfkuchen, bundkuchen, aschkuchen, or rodonkuchen, depending upon the region of Germany where it is served. Though the names are different, the bread's ingredients are essentially the same. Yeast, eggs, flour, and butter are the staple ingredients of most recipes. Additional flavorings are dependent upon the taste of the baker. When the cake has cooled, it is usually dusted with confectioners sugar or covered with a chocolate glaze.

Gugelhupf is a yeast-leavened bread, using yeast to make it rise rather than baking powder like some quick breads. Raisins are often added to the bread dough before baking. Candied fruits, such as lemons or oranges, and nuts are sometimes added as well.

Though most often considered a German dessert, gugelhupf was chosen as the representative food of Austria for Cafe Europe. Cafe Europe, an event that was held on 9 May 2006, offered a cultural initiative encouraging people to learn of the varying cultures of the European Nation. Gugelhupf was served at those cafes which participated in the event, held all across Europe.

The name gugelhupf comes from a combination of two German words, gugel which means round or sphere shaped, and hupf which means head. The turban-shaped cake makes it a popular choice for serving at Christmas, as it is the same shape as the turbans the three wise men might have worn. With its festive ring shape, the cake is served at many different celebrations. Often the center of the ring will be filled with flowers or candies, or any number of other things that represent the reason the cake is being served.

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