1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/4 cup dark rum
2 pkg dry yeast
1 pinch sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 lb unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cup sifted flour
4 egg whites
1/8 cup blanched whole almonds
1 confectioner's sugar
Soak the raisins in the rum for 1/2 hour. Then drain and squeeze dry. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar into the water. Let the mixture stand for 2 to 3 minutes; stir to dissolve the yeast. set in a warm, draft free place such as an unlightened oven for 2 or 3 minutes or until the yeast has proofed (becomes foamy and has almost doubled.)
Cream the soft butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar together by beating them against the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, then stir in the yeast solution and beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Add the orange peel, vanilla, salt and raisins. Beat in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time.
In another mixing bowl, preferably of unlined copper, beat the egg whites with a whisk or rotary or electric beater until they begin to foam, then beat in the rest of the sugar. Continue to beat till stiff unwavering peaks form when the beater is lifted out of the bowl.
With a rubber spatula, mix about 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the batter, then reverse the process and fold the batter into the rest of the egg whites, using an under and over folding motion. Continue to fold till no trace of the whites remain but do not overfold.
With a pastry brush or a paper towel, lightly butter a ring mold (a deep fluted Gugelhupf form is usually used, but any ring mold about 5 inches deep and 10 inches across will do.) Then sprinkle some flour over it and tip the pan from side to side to coat the surface evenly. Knock out the excess flour by inverting the mold and striking it against the table. Arrange the almonds in a circle in the bottom of the mold, then pour in the batter. Cover with a kitchen towel and set in a warm, draft-free place (the unlightened oven is ideal) for 1 1/2 hours, or until the batter has risen to the top of the mold. preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the Gugelhupf in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until it is a light golden brown. Then turn it out on a cake rack to cool. Dust lightly with confectioner's sugar before serving.
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