(Viennese Yeast-Risen Tea Cake)
This popular Austrian cake (prepared in Alsace as well as Germany) probably migrated to France with Stanislaw Leszczynski, the exiled king of Poland who set up court in Nancy, capital of the Lorraine. The king was a legendary baker and he is credited variously with having introduced the baba and the savarin to France. Perhaps his interest in bread was passed on to his daughter Maria, who married Louis XV and became queen of France.
One 8- to 9-inch diameter gugelhupf, 10 servings
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup golden raisins
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Confectioners’ sugar for finishing
One 1 1/2-quart to 2-quart gugelhupf mold or Bundt pan
A mold with a central tube is essential to the baking of this delicate and easy-to-prepare yeast-risen cake. Though Gugelhupf molds are fairly easy to find in kitchenware shops and department stores, you may substitute a Bundt pan. But if you do, note that it will probably have a much larger capacity, so make sure that the dough does not rise too much or the resulting gugelhupf will have a foul, yeasty taste. Or double the recipe—that will fill a standard 3-quart Bundt pan perfectly
- Thickly butter the gugelhupf mold with soft, but not melted, butter. Remember to butter the rim of the mold and the top of the central tube.
- To make the sponge, heat the milk to lukewarm, about 110˚F, in a small saucepan over a low flame. Pour the milk into a bowl and whisk in the yeast. Stir in the flour smoothly and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the sponge to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes, until the sponge is more than doubled in bulk.
- For the dough, cover the raisins with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain and cool.
- To make the dough, in a heavy-duty mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed until soft and light. Beat in the salt, lemon zest, and vanilla. Beat in the egg and continue beating until smooth, then beat in the yolks, one at a time, beating the batter smooth after each addition. Beat in the flour, then the sponge, and beat the dough smooth. Add the raisins and mix gently to incorporate. To mix the dough in a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the flour, sponge, and raisins in the work bowl fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to form a paste, then allow the machine to run continuously for 30 seconds. Remove the metal blade and attach a plastic blade; add the flour and sponge and pulse until a soft dough has formed. Allow the machine to run continuously for 15 seconds. Add the raisins and pulse 2 to 3 times to distribute them throughout the dough. Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until the dough has doubled, up to 1 1/2 hours.
- Deflate the dough and distribute large spoonfuls of it evenly around the mold. Smooth the top of the dough with the back of a spoon to make it flat and even. Cover loosely with buttered plastic wrap or a dry towel. At room temperature, allow the dough to rise until it fills the mold (or half fills the Bundt pan), up to 1 1/2 hours.
- When the gugelhupf is almost completely risen, set a rack at the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
- Bake the gugelhupf for about 45 minutes, until it is a deep golden brown and a thin knife blade inserted between the side of the mold and the central tube emerges without any wet dough clinging to it.
- Unmold to a rack to cool. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar before serving.