• Serves

    serves 8-10

  • Cook

    5 hours


By Christine Ferber

Updated on December 12, 2022

Pastry chef Christine Ferber's not-too-sweet kugelhopf recipe has just a few choice raisins per slice. The classic Alsatian Christmas cake is baked in a distinctive ring mold. Traditional kugelhopf molds are available online, but in a pinch, a standard fluted cake pan works, too. Note: Don’t rush the mixing and fermentation periods for this dough; the flavor and open-crumb structure of the delicate cake are at their best when allowed to develop slowly.


  • 12 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp. kirsch
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. fresh yeast
  • 2⁄3 cup plus 2 3⁄4 cups bread flour (1 lb. total, divided)
  • 2 tbsp. superfine sugar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 13 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
  • 13 cup whole almonds
  • Confectioners sugar, for dusting


Step 1

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the kirsch and 2 tablespoons hot water for 30 minutes, then strain, discarding the liquid.

Step 2

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, mix the milk, yeast, and 2⁄3 cup flour on low speed just to combine, about 1 minute. Let stand for 15 minutes, then add the remaining flour, the sugar, and the salt, and mix on low speed until evenly combined, 1-2 minutes. Add the egg and continue mixing on low speed until incorporated, 3-4 minutes. Increase the speed by 1 level and continue mixing until the dough is smooth and elastic (but still a bit sticky), 3-4 minutes more. Revert to lowest speed, add the butter, and continue mixing, using a silicone spatula to occasionally scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, until the butter is incorporated and the dough is very smooth and glossy, 12-15 minutes more. Add the raisins and continue mixing on low speed to distribute them throughout the dough, about 2 minutes more. Lightly grease a medium bowl with butter, then add the dough, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 1-11⁄4 hours.

Step 3

Gently press the dough down to deflate, fold it in thirds, then cover the bowl again. Set aside until the dough has nearly doubled again, 30-40 minutes more.

Step 4

Meanwhile, soak the almonds in hot water for 5 minutes, then drain. Grease a kugelhopf pan (or fluted cake pan, if using) lightly with butter, then distribute the soaked almonds among the grooves of the pan. Using your fist, punch a hole in the center of the dough, then gently lift and position it in the pre- pared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until nearly doubled, 30-40 minutes.

Step 5

Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Transfer the kugelhopf to the oven, then immediately lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake until deep golden brown, 40-50 minutes. Immediately, and gently, invert and unmold the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Note: Fresh cake yeast, which dissolves well in cool liquid, is the ideal leavening for heavily enriched, high-hydration doughs like this one. Look for it in the fridge or freezer section of well-stocked grocery stores. Can’t find it? Substitute one third the quantity by weight of instant dry yeast; in this case, 1 2⁄3 teaspoons.

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