Kougelhopf is a classic yeasted dessert bread from the Alsace Lorraine region of France.


Today, a friend’s granddaughter was born. This morning, someone drove his baby boy to the hospital to remove a brain tumor. This afternoon, a friend’s faithful companion died. Today, someone celebrated being alive. I knew I’d spend the day entrenched in my kitchen bomb shelter, under the pretext of baking, but truly hiding from life’s bittersweet highs and lows. I reserved this weekend to unclutter my brain – sorting and classifying – following a week of heady realizations. However, by 10:00 a.m., I opted to linger with my messy meditations and concentrate instead on distraction through less-weighty things. So, rather than tackle life’s complexities, I delight in the simple phenomenon of dry yeast: inert-looking sand that vigorously bounds to life with the coaxing of a sprinkling of sugar and warm milk, transforming flour and water into bread. Yeast bread can’t be rushed; its requirement for patient tending diverts my brain’s workings for a while.


This specialty from Alsace can be served for breakfast or tea, and is not very sweet.


  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup kirsch or brandy
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar + 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • ½ cup butter, softened + more for pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 20 to 30 whole almonds
  • ¼ cup candied orange peel, finely chopped**
  • Powdered sugar


  1. Heat raisins in kirsch for 1 minute in microwave. Set aside.
  2. Heat milk for 1 minute until milk is between 107 and 110 degrees. Stir in 1 T. of sugar and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. In stand mixer, cream butter and remaining sugar. Add eggs, remaining milk, almond extract, and salt and mix well. Incorporate yeast mixture. Combine flour and almond flour and incorporate. Switch to a dough hook and mix for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Cover dough with a dishcloth and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
  5. Butter and flour a 9-inch bundt pan. Place almonds at the bottom of the pan in a decorative pattern. I use a bit of butter to help them stay in place. Drain raisins and combine with orange peel. Work the raisins and peel into dough.
  6. Spoon dough evenly into pan. Smooth dough, cover with dishcloth, and let rise again in a warm place for 30-40 minutes until dough is about an inch below the rim.
  7. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  8. Bake in oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Invert, remove pan and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

**I prefer homemade to store bought versions.

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