When most Americans travel to Germany, they bring home a cuckoo clock as a souvenir, or maybe a couple of beer steins. I brought home a set of Guglhupf baking molds.
Google-what?, I can hear you say. My point exactly. You see, during the year that I lived in Germany, I developed a fondness for that country's pastries. One of my favorites was Guglhupf (pronounced GOO-gul-hoopf), a cake little known this side of the Atlantic. Usually yeast-risen, generally studded with raisins - and sometimes other dried fruits - Guglhupf is named for the elaborately ornamented dome-shaped mold in which it is baked. Once I returned stateside, the only way I figured I'd get my Guglhupf fix was to bake it myself. Hence the souvenir Guglhupf molds.
How could I possibly have known that German natives Claudia Cooper and Helmut Jahn would choose Durham, of all places, to open an authentic Old World style bakery in 1997? Or that they'd name their shop after such an esoteric tongue-twister of a cake, and back up the name with a version of Guglhupf that rates among the best I had in Germany? In their rendition, rum-soaked golden raisins punctuate the brioche-like interior of the cake, and toasted almond slivers its exterior. Upon being unmolded, the entire cake is dipped in melted butter and rolled in powdered sugar. The result is a cake that's sweet enough for a light dessert but not too sweet for breakfast - most agreeable proof of the maxim that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Needless to say, my Guglhupf molds have been gathering dust for nearly 9 years now.
How much: $6.95 (small), $8.95 (large).
Where: Guglhupf Bakery & Cafe, 2706 Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham; 401-2600, www.guglhupf.com.