From the Romans to today: sometimes it has to be a Bundt cake

Little Red Riding Hood had him in her basket.

From the Romans to today: sometimes it has to be a Bundt cake

Little Red Riding Hood had him in her basket. Franz Joseph I loved him beyond measure, and Katharina Schratt's imperial "friendship" was immortalized in Ischl with her legendary Gugelhupf. And we? We also "gugle" to our heart's content.

Even the sight of a Gugelhupf brings back childhood memories for many people, because such a Bundt cake should be the cake for a child's birthday party. My grandmother often baked one, not only for birthdays, but also for cozy hours on Sunday afternoons: It was quick, the few ingredients were in stock, and such a Gugelhupf tasted even after two days - if there was anything left...

At home, the Gugelhupf was called Napfkuchen. Later as a student, I learned the name Aschkuchen from my landlady in Saxony, Wundermild, because large mixing bowls are called "Asch" there. Today I know that there are many more names for this pastry, which not only tastes good, but also looks kind of funny. Maybe that's why Gugelhupfe (or is that called Gugelhüpfer?) Baked creations with so many names. But one thing is for sure: Gugelhupf has nothing to do with "gugeln". Because if we google Bundt cake, we find out that its beginnings go back to ancient Rome, and the ancient Romans are known to have got by without the internet at all. Marina Kasimir has written a wonderful cookbook for anyone who wants to know more than Wikipedia knows, and especially anyone who wants to bake delicious Gugelhupf: In "Gugelhupf - quite big" from Leopold Stocker Verlag you will find 145 recipes from 300 years, each one Plenty of tips and interesting facts about the "king of cakes".

Marina Kasimir is a collector of cooking literature, her library includes 700 works. She has been giving cooking classes for 20 years and has already written six cookbooks. The recipes published in the Gugelhupf book come from her collection of 1800 recipes as well as from family and friends. She "translated" the historical recipes into understandable German, adapted them to today's requirements, tested them and found them to be suitable for our time. The author has included some particularly old recipes in the original version in order to make it clear how differently recipes were formulated in the past. Such a recipe is from the book "Complete Nuremberg Cookbook". In addition to the recipe "To bake a Gogelhopffen" in the original spelling, you will also find the adapted "translation". The baking instructions from 1691 are the oldest documented Bundt cake recipe and are probably the original recipe for a high-quality Bundt cake - baked with beer yeast, of course, because baking powder wasn't invented yet. In general, germ (i.e. yeast) was the leavening agent up to the middle of the 19th century.

The large number of eggs in the older recipes is sometimes surprising - they were simply much smaller then than they are today. Sometimes, instead of a leavening agent, many egg yolks and/or beaten egg whites are used to loosen the dough. It's amazing how little or how much the baking of a Bundt cake has changed over the centuries, it all depends on your point of view. If you look at the basic variant with the basic components flour, eggs, fat, cream/milk, sugar and leavening agent, only little has changed. Even the baking molds are similar. Above all, the quantities are being adjusted; nowadays we bake less sweet and less greasy. In the course of the centuries, however, the most diverse ingredients, glazes or the renunciation of flour have been added. And so the circle closes, for example, with a gluten-free carrot ring cake.

Opinions differ about the "homeland" of Gugelhupf: Austria? France? Hungary? southern Germany? The Alpine Republic has every right to claim the Gugelhupf as a "very Austrian recipe" for itself, after all archaeological finds of Gugelhupf models from the 2nd century AD in Carnuntum (Lower Austria) bear witness to this. However, such artefacts have also been unearthed in other former Roman cities in Europe. The French, on the other hand, are convinced that the "Couglof" or "Kougelhopf" originated in the Alsatian town of Ribeauville. A "Fête de Kougelhopf" is still celebrated there with great enthusiasm every year on the second Sunday in June. In the turmoil of the 200-year migration of peoples, knowledge of the ancient Bundt cake was lost, but from the 16th century it experienced a renaissance - and after the invention of the printing press there was probably hardly a cookbook without a Bundt cake recipe.

Of course, "the Kaiser" also contributed to the deep, inseparable connection between Gugelhupf and Austria. Of course, what is meant here is Franz Joseph I, who controlled the fortunes of the Danube monarchy from 1848 to 1916 - and who, as is well known, loved to eat a piece of Bundt cake for breakfast. And so the book contains a number of different Gugelhupfe for the majesties, because even Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) was fond of the ridged cake despite her anorexia. Thanks to Marina Kasimir's book, you can easily recreate "Her Majesty's Gugelhupf" from the Empress's favorite confectioner. Or you can choose one of the variants from mouth chef Friedrich Hampel from the Imperial and Royal Court Bakery or the "Schratt Bundt cake for His Majesty". There are all sorts of stories about Katharina Schratt, the emperor's soul mate, probably also because she herself maintained the strictest discretion until her death in 1940. Most historians believe that "die Schratt" never overstepped the bounds of what was permissible in her relationship with the Emperor. Well, nobody was there. And the main thing is that the Bundt cake tastes good!

Before we start baking, Kasimir explains a few things that are necessary for good success: Shapes and sizes, different types of dough and their special features, ingredients, dimensions and weights and what hazelnut cakes are. The following chapters offer culinary treasures from monastery kitchens and good things from the court kitchen, pudding-like Gugelhupfe cooked in a water bath as well as ice cream and parfait Gugelhupfe. There are also recipes for salty Gugelhupfe, which become savory delicacies with cheese, ham, salami, olives, wine, etc. There are also baking instructions from times of hardship and war: It's amazing how "cakes" can be made without fat, egg or flour.

The two longest chapters deal with various Bundt cakes made from yeast or batter. If you want to quickly bake a Bundt cake, you cleverly do without the yeast dough, which takes a while to "rise". In addition to yeast, there is also tartar as a natural leavening agent; and I think it's great that tartar baking powder is available again. Natural cream of tartar was pushed into the background by the invention of chemical baking powder, in Europe around 1890. Both types of powder have the same effect, but the mouthfeel is different. The astringent effect of the chemical baking soda on the mucous membranes is particularly unpleasant for people who are particularly sensitive. If you've ever overdosed on baking soda, you've probably felt that furry feeling in your mouth. So, and now start guggling and hopping:

Like all other recipes from older cookbooks and manuscripts, the recipe was transcribed by the author and adapted to the present day. The original Kugelhupf recipe comes from the private handwritten cookbook of the Austrian imperial family.


Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk, steam with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 120 g of flour and let rise until bubbles form. Cream the butter at room temperature with the yolks, the remaining sugar, a pinch of salt and the lemon zest. Mix the Dampfl with the remaining flour, mix with the butter and beat well, finally work in the beaten egg whites until stiff. Let the dough rise for 20 minutes, fold it together and let it rise for another 20 minutes. Pour into a well-greased and floured Gugelhupf tin and bake in a preheated oven for approx. 45 minutes at 180 °C.

According to personal taste, you can knead in raisins, almonds and/or lemon peel before kneading the dough for the last time.


Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla sugar very well until fluffy, slowly stir in the oil and liqueur, fold in the flour sifted with baking powder and salt and pour into a well-greased and floured Gugelhupf tin. Bake on the middle shelf for approx. 75 minutes at 180 °C top and bottom heat (make a needle test!). After cooling, turn out and sprinkle with icing sugar or cinnamon sugar.

This tasty Bundt cake can also be refined with a lemon or egg liqueur glaze (see p. 22).


Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm milk, add some flour and leave to rise. From the remaining flour, oil, salt and steam, make a yeast dough that is not too firm and let it rise for 1 hour. Cut the salami, cheese and olives into small pieces and mix with a little olive oil, beat together the risen dough and then knead in the salami, cheese and olive mixture. Place in a well-greased Gugelhupf mold and let rise again. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 °C for about 1 hour.

Heidi Driesner wishes you lots of fun.

(This article was first published on Thursday, March 02, 2023.)