It’s 15:00, you’ve worked a long day in the office and have hit the slump of productivity. You stare at the clock wondering how only 3 hours have gone by since lunch when you ate the leftover pasta from last night’s dinner, regretting the choice given how sleepy you are now. You stand up, stretch, and meander into the office kitchen where you start a cappuccino from the machine. As you turn to find the sugar, you see… oh my… your coworker’s Gugelhupf! The little handwritten note in front says “for all,” at which point you’re already slicing through the perfect bundt-shaped cake with a knife and head back to your desk, ready to finish the last 2-3 hours of work.
While I’ve never worked a 9-5 office job while living in Vienna, a Gugelhupf is always standard procedure in any office kitchen in my mind. This mildly sweet, fluffy cake, pairs perfectly with a warm cup of coffee or cappuccino. The mixing and zig-zagging of two different batters, the chocolate and plain one, make it look like Marble, hence the name Marmorgugelhupf. The Gugelhupf is fairly simple, making it a great first challenge for the year, while also providing the sweet comfort of hometown smells and sights that I’ve been longing for.
I was surprised by how long it took me to finally attempt this challenge. With shifting work schedules, project deadlines, and you know, a pursuit of some social life, I’ve placed this on the back burner. When I was finally motivated enough, I’d search for recipes with ingredients that I simply don’t have here in the U.S. I was determined the make those here, but I realized that I didn’t have $20 to burn to purchase two vanilla beans that I could experimentally soak in sugar for 2 weeks in a sealed container (in an effort to make the in-Austria-readily-available “Vanille Zucker”). I settled on a slightly more Americanized version with vanilla extract. With all my concentration on the freaking vanilla, I forgot to purchase a key ingredient that this recipe did not use – rum. I like boozey baked goods and I unfortunately forgot to purchase and add it to the recipe.
I completed the challenge on a cloudy Sunday afternoon after talking to a high school friend on facetime (Hi Kedrick). I made some small mistakes in the process, like switching the chocolate and regular batter proportions, making an inverted marble (but is anyone actually complaining over more chocolate??) and the aforementioned omission of rum. Recipes usually take me a solid three times longer than expected, so from start to finish it was around 2.5 hours (I was also distracted by a friend’s phone call). As you can see in the pictures, it actually turned out looking really beautiful. While I didn’t have enough powdered sugar left to garnish on top, it still looks pretty good. I’m very satisfied with the results and so grateful that I decided to start with this one. Now that I know how to make it, I can avoid using the 8 bowls for mixing that I did and get it down to less than 1.5 hours. I am definitely making this recipe again.
Playlist that I was listening to while baking: Donny Hathaway
Because in my mind, soul music from the 70s pairs perfectly with Austrian baking.