Sachergugelhupf Recipes

The reason why the Hotel “Sacher” is as popular as Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace is not its luxury accommodation, but the Sachertorte. Its fame has spread well beyond Austria and it is also the basis for this Gugelhupf recipe.

Oil cakes have a long tradition especially in Mediterranean countries where olive oil is abundant. In Austria sunflower or rape oil is used instead and candied bitter orange peel, aranzini, and pine kernels are also added.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is said to have loved sweet dishes prepared with almonds, marzipan and sugar such as the famous Mozartkugel chocolates, or the majestic Mozart-Gugelhupf.

The Austrians are convinced that the word “Gugelhupf” origins in the Middle High German “gugele” (monk’s hood) and “hopf” (yeast). It might also come from the Alsace “Kouglhof”, though, a sweet dish which, according to legend, the Three Wise Men carried with them.

Once the size of the Austrian poppy harvest was capable of influencing even the English stock market! That’s exactly what happened in the 1930s, when the Waldviertel Graumohn poppy was being traded on the London Commodities Market. Even though those are bygone days, poppy-growing in Austria is still booming, and along with it the cakes cooked with poppy seeds with the Mohngugelhupf being one of the most special delicacies the country has to offer.

The Marmorgugelhupf definitely presides over apple strudel, Powidlgolatschen (a glazed pastry with a plum jam filling) and all the other sweet dishes in the cake display of Austrian coffee houses.

What makes the apricot so special for Austria is its protected designation of origin ”Wachauer Marille” coming from the famous Wachau Valley. This enchanting Danube valley is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Europe. Whether genuine Wachau apricots or not, they always add distinctive acidity and moistness.

During the imperial era, Vienna was completely in a spin over almonds. No wonder, since the Viennese pastry chefs were focussed on everything that made fine dishes taste even finer. And that definitely included almonds!

“Dining like Kings” under the Austrian monarchy did not necessarily mean fine dining. Franz Joseph, the Emperor of Austria, for example, preferred simple meals. One of them was a simple Gugelhupf for dessert, which he loved to have served by his life-long confidante Katharina Schratt.

While Austrian cake-makers may indeed be famed for their Gugelhupf, the cake itself was actually known to the Romans in 2000 BC. They even enjoyed yeast Gugelhupf, with its round form serving as a symbol for the sun. Since then, this time-honoured recipe has ranked amongst the Gugelhupf classics.