A Treat From France's Alsace Region

A Kugelhopf is a traditional cake from the Alsace in the east region of France. It has more of a German influence as this area was historically part of Germany.


An alternative Christmas cake recipe

The Christmas markets in the Alsace region are truly wonderful and you will see many delicious traditional foods for sale including this gorgeous cake. Although I say it is a cake, it is in fact a sort of cross between lovely French bread and a cake.

The shape of these lovely cakes is another of their traditions, being made in a fluted cake mould. Most of the moulds we buy are tin or aluminium but again the traditional ones are earthenware and come in lovely colours. You can purchase them in the Alsace and they are a lovely keepsake too if you do ever visit this region of France.

The most popular Kuglehof cakes contain dried fruit and nuts but some are savoury and contain bacon and herbs. They are both worth trying and make a welcome change from the heavier Christmas cakes which we are more familiar with.

This recipe is for a fruit version and you will need an 8-inch traditional Kuglehof cake tin to make this cake which is a fluted tube tin, or you can use a Savarin tin. If you don't have either, a good pudding basin will do the trick but it will not give you the lovely traditional pattern with the hollow centre – however it will still taste good.


4oz raisins

4 tablespoons rum

1 oz fresh yeast or 1 teaspoon fast action yeast such as Allinsons

8 fl oz milk

9 oz plain flour

3 oz butter cut into small pieces

1 oz chopped slivered almonds

2 oz sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg

Icing sugar for sprinkling


I will give you two different methods to make your Kuglehof cake, one for the traditional way, and one if you wish to make it in a bread machine to start it off.

Prepare your tin by lightly buttering it and sprinkle the almonds into the sides and bottom.

Traditional Method

Sprinkle the raisins with the rum and soak them for a few hours until well soaked.

Mix the yeast in a bowl with about 6 fl oz of warm milk (not hot).

Stir in 2 oz of the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Sprinkle the remaining flour over it and do not knead; cover with a tea cloth or cling film and leave in a warm place until the mixture rises and lifts the flour.

Mix in the flour, the sugar, salt, butter, egg and remaining milk. Knead for a few minutes.

Place the dough into the tin or basin to about half way up the tin and leave to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Place in the pre-heated oven at 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 for about 35 minutes until golden brown. Test if it is cooked through by piercing with a skewer in the centre – if it comes out clean it is cooked if not give it a few more minutes.


If you are using dry yeast, mix it in with the other ingredients and it only needs one rising in the tin before baking.

Bread Machine Method

Follow the instructions for your bread machine for the order that the ingredients go in but here is what I do with mine. The yeast must not come in contact with the salt as it will kill the yeast.

Place the dried yeast in bottom of bread tin then the flour and follow with all the other ingredients.

Depending on your bread machine model, you just need to knead the bread and I use the Pizza mode.

Place the dough into the Kuglehof tin and place in a warm place to rise to double its size.

Bake in pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes as above method.

You will find that your Kuglehof cake will keep for about a week. Often it is eaten stale with a cup of coffee. However, you are most likely to find that it will be eaten well before this!

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