Alsatian Gugelhopf

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This recipe is another one that I copied from a cookbook checked out from our local library maybe 30 years ago, and pasted on an index card. I have no idea what its origin, but I know there are many similar variations of festive gugelhopf and kugelhopf from France and Germany, with many different spellings, and probably in many more countries. In fact, it’s not too different from Italy’s Panettone or Pandulce, as far as ingredients go.

This particular recipe is a moist yeasted sweet bread with dried fruits, topped with nuts. Obviously, there can be many variations. I made this one specifically for Christmas morning, so I used only dried tart cherries and pistachios.

Alsatian Gugelhopf

1 cup dried tart cherries, cut in half if they’re large, about 5 ounces
1/2 cup golden raisins, about 2 1/2 ounces
4 tablespoons Kirsch or ruby port
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry yeast
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon orange oil
3 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup tepid whole milk
3 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup ground pistachios or almonds

Mix the dried fruits and the Kirsch in a medium bowl. Do not be tempted to add any more Kirsch; it could kill the yeast. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Combine 1/4 cup warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over; stir to dissolve. Let sit for 10 minutes or until yeast foams to top.

In large bowl beat 6 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup sugar, egg yolks, zest, vanilla, and salt until well blended. Add yeast mixture, milk, and 1 cup of flour. Beat until smooth.

Add in plumped fruits and gradually add remaining flour and beat until dough forms.

Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

Butter a 10-cup Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the nuts, tilting pan to coat bottom and sides.

Spoon dough into pan. Cover with plastic wrap and damp towel. Let dough rise in warm place for 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake about 35 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Turn onto rack to cool.

If desired, make a glaze for the Gugelhopf by combining 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of Kirsch and 1 tablespoon of cream. Whisk until smooth, then pour over the cake.

Personally, I don’t love powdered sugar glazes, and this bread is sweetened already, but I made a glaze for half the gugelhopf.

I love gugelhopf slightly toasted with butter.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

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Back in May when my strawberry plants were thriving, I thought about what to do with the berries, besides gorge on them! (And share.) There’s nothing quite like that just-ripened strawberry, picked from its plant.

Then I remembered a milk shake my mother made, maybe in 1968 or 1969. We lived on Long Island, New York, at the time, and where we lived wasn’t populated. We had the Long Island Sound in the front, hills behind us, a lovely creek, and lots of green space.

My mother’s idol was Euell Gibbons back then, and she foraged everything. At the time I wasn’t fond of a lot that she foraged, like mushrooms and watercress, but I loved when the local strawberries were in full force. She picked these little strawberries and blended them with good vanilla ice cream.

These particular strawberries are what I’d tasted before in France, thanks to my mother. They have a strong perfume as well as a strawberry goodness and they’re called fraises des bois, or strawberries of the woods. Below is a photo I found online of these strawberries, on the left. I had some in my garden in the early days, but the larger, more common variety of strawberry has taken over, sadly. They spread easily.

After thinking about a strawberry shake, it was a given that I’d make strawberry ice cream with my berries. I pulled out my book The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz, published in 2007; there’s an updated version published in 2018. Sure enough, I found a perfect recipe using fresh strawberries. It’s even a little boozy!

I ended up not having enough from my garden, thanks to some pests and too much rain, so most of the strawberries I used for this recipe are store-bought. But they were good ones.

Here’s the author’s description of the ice cream recipe: Brilliant pink fresh strawberry ice cream is a classic flavor and, along with chocolate and vanilla, is an American favorite. I’m a big fan of any kind of berries served with tangy sour cream, but I think strawberries are the most delicious, especially when frozen into a soft, rosy red scoop of ice cream. Macerating the strawberries beforehand magically transforms even so-so berries into fruits that are brilliantly red. Try to eat this ice cream soon after it’s been churned.

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/4 quarts
printable recipe below

1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vodka or kirsch (I used kirsch)*
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until almost smooth but still slightly chunky.

Refrigerate for 1 hour then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

My Cuisinart ice cream maker has two bowls, which is handy. Especially if you’ve ever poured too much into one!

The ice cream is good. You can taste a little zing from the sour cream. But I think I prefer a full fat ice cream; all heavy cream.

The other thing is…. I think I’d prefer a fresh strawberry shake. What I didn’t like in the ice cream was the frozen strawberry bits. They were icy and cold to eat.

And I don’t freeze my ice cream hard. I like it on the softer side and creamy.

So I learned a lesson here. Overall it’s a great recipe, but one I won’t repeat. My mother had the right idea using the fraises des bois in a milk shake!

*If you don’t want alcohol in your ice cream, a tablespoon of grenadine would be nice, and pretty!

 

 

 

Cherries Foster

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My idea for cherries foster, inspired by bananas foster, which is a favorite of my husband’s, came about only because bananas are so long and require an elongated serving dish. I know, that’s a weird reason to ponder other forsterable fruit. But see?

Which made me think about what other fruits would allow a different sort of presentation – basically little round fruits like cherries!

Bottled cherries like Griottines or Frabbri Amarena would make a lovely topping on ice cream. But I really wanted to “foster” ripe cherries to mimic the bananas foster dessert.

Why? Because it’s fabulous. There’s caramelization, there’s sweetness, there’s fruitiness, there’s some liqueur, there’s flambéing, and ice cream. What’s not to love!

If you’ve never pitted fresh cherries before, it’s very easy. Just use an olive pitter, sometimes called a cherry pitter! I find it best to pop out the pit from or through the stem end. It can get a little messy and there can be flying pits, but it’s easy.

And definitely worth doing to make this dessert.

Here’s what I did.

Cherries Foster
Serves 4

1 pound of ripe cherries, rinsed, dried
4 ounces of butter
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
Good splash of Kirsch*
High quality vanilla ice cream

Pit the cherries, slice in half, and set aside.

Heat the butter and brown sugar in a skillet. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Add the cherry halves and sauté them until soft, at least 5 minutes.


Add the splash and light the liqueur. Let it flame until the flame dies out. You have to look closely, but there are flames! Sauté for another few minutes then turn off the heat.

Scoop the ice cream into serving bowls. Top with the cherries with the cherries and sauce.

I found these cookie crumbs on Amazon and I thought they’d be good for some crunch.

I thought the crunch really added something. The possibilities are endless.

By the time I’d taken photos, the ice cream had become soup…

But boy was this a spectacular dessert. I truly loved it. And it’s pretty enough. I certainly could have done a better job of “styling” the cherries, but I added them still warm; my time was limited!


Thank you Mr. Foster.

* Vanilla liqueur or bourbon are other choices, or no alcohol.