Pecan Molasses Gugelhupf with a Bourbon glaze


I can remember when I received this recipe request from the good folk at the BBC asking me to create a ‘European, Yeast Leavened, Cake’ in the style of a Savrain.  If you are looking confused by that sentence, don’t worry, you are not alone!

Similar to the Rum Barba’s made on the GBBO a few years back, these cakes use a combination of cake techniques (creaming together of sugars and butter) and bread techniques (yeast and salt).  This gives the finished article a very distinctive texture, denser than a normal sponge but with a far deeper flavor.

Of course, simply putting together a quick Baba will never satisfy Paul or Mary on the show as they expect something bigger and more original.  So, with a pretty much blank state, I set myself to work on trying to create this recipe.  I settled on a German\Austrian cake called a Gugelhupf in the end, trying to stand out from the crowd of Savrin cakes which I imagined would be what the other bakers would go for.  Traditionally this would contain dried fruit and poppy seeds but, as I’m sure regular readers of my site will know by now, I have a somewhat sweeter tooth then most!

Having baked just a plain Gugelhupf to start, I figured that it really needed a punch in the flavor department as the original is pretty boring really.  I decided to split my batter in two, keeping one a standard Vanilla flavor but allowing myself a bit more play with the second lot.  I added some Golden Syrup for sweetness, some Molasses (Dark Treacle) for depth and a good handful of roasted nuts for texture.  This does add to the rise time quite significantly as the flavored batter will weigh down the rising process.  In the tent this would of probably been my downfall but, cooking at home, I don’t have to worry about such silly time constraints!

Once the cake has been baked you will need to remove it from the tin straight away.  The longer you leave it, the higher the chance of it sticking in the mold.  This has happened to me before and ended up with me having to spoon the cake from the tin, crumb by crumb!  I made Trifle that night!

As this cake is quite heavy, I figured it could use some moistness with a good glazing.  A good quality Bourbon always works well with that Southern States Molasses flavor but I didn’t want it to overpower the Vanilla cake layer.  Into a pan I added butter and golden syrup for shine, buttermilk for flavor, sugar for sweetness and Bourbon for that lovely smoky taste. A little baking soda thickened and completed the glaze mix which was then liberally applied to the Gugelhupf.  Sticky, tasty and pretty, I’m quite happy with the end result! The best complement I have received is from a Latvian workmate who told me with a tear in his eye that it is exactly like his grandmother used to make.  Job done I say!


Ingredients for Gugelhupf Cake

500g Plain White Flour

2 x 7g Packets of Yeast

10g Table Salt

180g Unsalted Butter – Softened

120g White Caster Sugar

4 Large Free Range Eggs

1 Vanilla Pod

4tbsp Whole Milk

100g Pecans

85g Golden Syrup

85g Dark Treacle

For The Glaze

1tsp Baking Soda

400g Golden Caster Sugar

225g Unsalted Butter – Chilled

230ml Buttermilk

2tsp Golden Syrup

115ml Good Quality Bourbon



1) Toast the chopped Pecans at 75c for 5 mins. Do not let them burn! Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

2) Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light using either a stand mixer of LOTS of elbow grease!

3) Add the seeds of the vanilla pod to the butter and sugar then add the eggs, one at a time, along with a spoon of flour to prevent curdling and mix to combine.

4) Add the rest of the flour to the bowl mix then place the dried yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other. Beat until a batter forms adding a little milk if the mix is too thick.

5) Heavily butter and flour your Bundt tin of choice, making sure to get into all the corners.  You will regret it if you don’t do this stage properly as you will never remove your finished cake from the tin!

6) Spoon half the cake mix into the tin, smoothing round if needed.


7) Into the remaining cake batter, place the toasted and cooled pecan nuts, the golden syrup & Treacle.  Stir to combine.

Guglehupf Ingredients

8) Spoon the pecan dough over the plain dough in the cake tin. Smooth the surface down but do not stir the two mixes together.

9) Leave the cake to rise in a warm place for around 1.5 hours.  This won’t double in size like a bread dough due to the added ingredients but will rise to fill ¾ of your tin.  Pre-heat the oven to 180c.

10) Once risen, bake at the center of the pre-heated oven for 40 to 50 mins, making sure the top does not burn. Cover with baling paper if it begins to colour too much.

11) Whilst cake is baking, make the glaze.

12) Place baking soda and 2tsp water into a small bowl or cup and stir to combine.

13) Place the other ingredients (sugar, buttermilk, butter, Golden Syrup) into a large saucepan and place over a high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and add the water\baking soda mix. The sauce will bubble up so be careful!

14) Boil until the sauce has thickened stirring often. Around 5-8 mins.

15) Add the bourbon and stir to combine.

16) Remove the Gugelhupf from the oven and remove from pan straight away, placing onto a cooling rack.  Brush liberally with the glaze making sure to get in all the nooks and crannys. Wait 5 mins and re-glaze. Keep applying the glaze until you run out!  I often find it is best to put a baking tray under the cooling rack to catch the run off glaze.  This can then be re-added to the cake.


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