So, here I was starting this recipe yesterday evening around 6:00pm. I love baking and getting crafty in the later hours of the day. I am totally a night owl and this is when my creative juices are flowing. Anyway, I started at 6 and by the time I got this recipe into the pan, as instructed, it was already 7:40. I thought, 'Great, it only bakes for 48 minutes, so I will totally have it cooling off in time for me to go to bed by 10 pm.' WRONG. I re-read the directions and right after the part where it instructs me to place the dough in the pan and let it rise until it reaches the top of the pan, are three words... three very important words. Three very important words that I do not recall seeing at all in my previous readings. Those three words are... 'about three hours.'
Yes, the dough must rise for about three hours! Ahh, what a shocker! I did not foresee this event. So, I waited the three hours and then baked the cake and then allowed it to cool off. I was in bed by midnight. The good news is that I nearly finished 'Wuthering Heights'. I started that over the summer, just before the school year started and lets just say that teaching duties significantly encroach on my personal time. My suggestion to you is to start this on a weekend day and early in the morning, so that you may enjoy it after dinner, at a normal hour. But, I am not here to tell you what to do.
I also recommend that you use the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer, when mixing in the chocolate and apricot mixture... because of the yeast, this dough is a bit sticky and a little thicker than a normal cake batter. Another tip, is to purchase two cans of Kern's Apricot Nectar, because one can is the equivalent of 1-1/2 cups, which is what you need for the sponge, alone. Because of this, instead of using apricot nectar or apricot brandy in my cake and whipped cream, I used straight up brandy. Unless you already own a Kugelhopf pan, there is no need to purchase one, because you can just use a Bundt pan.
I briefly mentioned the rating system for these recipes, before. Bon Appetit rate the recipes' difficulty level with whisks. I thought I would take the time to lay that information out in a clear manner.
As Bon Appetit says, this rating system is "to help you determine at a glance which recipe fits your skill level, we've given every recipe in the book a 'whisk rating', on a scale of one to four whisks."
WHISK RATING (Directly from Bon Appetit)
1 whisk- Very easy to make, with no special techniques required. Perfect for the novice.
2 whisks- A little more challenging. For the beginner with confidence.
3 whisks- Sophisticated, requiring more mastery of technique, such as caramelizing sugar. For the experienced cook.
4 whisks- A show-stopping dessert with many steps and components. For the expert baker.
These higher whisk recipes may seem a little intimidating if you are new to baking, but I believe that anyone is able to make them. I think that all you need to do is to CAREFULLY read the ingredients and recipe steps before you even start the baking process and give yourself plenty of time, so that you are not stressed out. It is never a good idea to bake when rushed. A good baked item takes love and time.
With that being said, this recipe is a three whisk recipe. You will find that this is only because you have to reduce the nectar and then make a sponge and in addition to the sponge, you make a dough. So, this has a few steps that require a bit of work, but overall not hard in the long run.
Are you enjoying saying 'kugelhopf' as much as I am?
And now, the moment you have all been waiting for:
Annnd... My lovely fall bouquet from Trader Joes, because why not?
1-1/2 cups apricot nectar
1-1/2 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/4-ounce envelope quick-rising active dry yeast
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
3 Tablespoons apricot brandy or apricot nectar
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 -ounce envelope quick-rising active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons hot water (120ºF to 125ºF)
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 ounces moist dried apricot, quartered
2 Tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Chocolate Swirl Whipped Cream (optional; see recipe)
SPONGE: Boil apricot nectar in heavy medium saucepan over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour reduced nectar into large bowl. Cool to 120ºF to 125ºF. Whisk in flour, sugar, milk powder, and yeast. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
DOUGH: Generously butter 12-cup kugelhopf pan. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs and egg yolks 1 at a time. Beat in apricot brandy, salt, vanilla, and ginger. Combine yeast and 2 Tablespoons hot water in small bowl and stir until yeast dissolves. Mix yeast mixture and sponge into butter mixture. Gradually mix in flour. Combine chocolate, dried apricots, brown sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Mix into dough.
Spoon dough into prepared pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and kitchen towel. Let stand in warm draft-free area until dough rises just to top of pan, ABOUT 3 HOURS.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350ºF. Bake kugelhopf until deep brown and cracking on top and tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 48 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Return to pan, cover tightly, and store at room temperature.
Place kugelhopf on platter. Lightly sift powdered sugar over. Cut into wedges. Serve, passing Chocolate Swirl Whipped Cream separately, if desired.
Chocolate Swirl Whipped Cream
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cocoa), chopped)
2 Tablespoons plus 2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons apricot brandy or apricot nectar
Stir chocolate and 2 Tablespoons cream in heavy small saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cool. Beat remaining 2 cups cream and sugar in large bowl until soft peaks form. Add brandy and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Pour chocolate mixture over cream and fold together until whipped cream is lightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer to serving bowl.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.