Chocolate, Walnut, and Almond Kugelhopf


This new year I'm going along with my resolution to get good luck, which involves eating a number of different good luck foods. Lentils, beans, greens and round cakes are all on the menu. Ring cakes are a classic dessert for celebrating the new year, especially in Europe. The ring shape is believe to bring luck, wealth, and prosperity. There are many cakes that fit that mold, like Bundts and Kugelhopfs.

Kugelhopf is a cake made famous in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. The cake is most often made with a yeast dough that's rolled up with a filling of cinnamon and raisins. But the cake can also be made with baking powder or soda, which turns out a cake much like any standard quick bread or American-style Bundt cake. But this cake recipe is special because it's made entirely without leavening.

To make this cake rise, it's all about the eggs. The egg whites are beaten until they're as thick and glossy as meringue. And the yolks are blended with butter and sugar. All the ingredients then get folded together with the flour to form a light and creamy batter, which rises high during baking. Sprinkling sliced almonds into the pan before adding the batter creates not only a pretty but also a crunchy exterior for the cake. The final result is a tender cake studded with chunks of chocolate and walnuts. It's perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.

Chocolate, Walnut, and Almond Kugelhopf

Recipe adapted from "Kaiser Gugelhupf" in Austrian Desserts and Pastries.

2-1/2 cups cake flour
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped dark chocolate
1-1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sliced almonds
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
1-1/3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, chocolate, and walnuts.

Brush a kugelhopf pan with softened butter. Sprinkle with almonds.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with granulated sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form. Remove to a bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, salt, lemon zest, and vanilla. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, until frothy.

Fold egg white mixture into butter mixture, a third at a time, until incorporated. Gently fold in flour mixture, a third at a time, until incorporated. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour. The cake should be puffed and a skewer inserted into one side should come out clean. Turn out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Yield: 12 slices.