Gugelhupf, Bundt cake, Guglhupf

A Kaiser, his mistress and a Gugelhupf

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One wonders if you have a genuine “Kaisergugelhupf” (Emperor bundt cake) on your plate at the Café. Only bakers and baking enthusiasts, who do a little research would be familiar with the true consistency of the dough. After all, we know there are many different variations on the internet, and there is very large collections of fake recipes among them. The difference is very simple, and can be clarified with a little research. I’ve already done that for you, you can see the recipe at bottom.

The historical background for the true recipe of the “Kaisergugelhupf” (Bundt cake of Emperor Kaiser Joseph I) has been handed down. Some bakers have dared to call their cakes “Kaisergugelhupf” because their cake did not comply with the original.

The Kaiser (emperor), whose title helped to honor the Kaisergugelhupf, was of course Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830-1916). German and Austrian people who are born after 1955 know him best as the husband of Sissi (Empress Elisabeth).

It has been known, that Kaiserin Elisabeth never felt particularly comfortable at the castle in Vienna. She took every opportunity to escape the court etiquette, and therefore traveled a lot. Initially she left for health reasons to a warmer climate, and later to avoid her duties.

The Austrian Imperial family per Wikimedia
The Austrian Imperial family, Kaiser Franz Joseph and Kaiserin Elisabeth (Sissi) (per Wikimedia)

In order to alleviate the Kaiser’s loneliness, and to lessen the expectations placed on her, the empress arranged that her husband get to know the actress and cabaret artist Katharina Schratt in 1885. From then on Ms. Schratt became the contact person and confidant of the emperor.


The mistress Katharina Schratt and her original “Kaisergugelhupf”

Kaiser Franz Joseph’s friendship with Katharina Schratt was saved from any scandal and expressly encouraged by the Kaisers wife. Even after Kaiserin Elisabeth’s death, their relationship has been maintained.

Kaiser Franz Josef supported the actress financially and gifted her jewelry. Among other things, he provided her with a villa in Bad Ischl, where the Austrian imperial family resided in the summer. Today called “Schratt Villa” or “Villa Schratt”.

By Franz Hula, Villa Schratt	MA 8 - Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv
Villa Schratt (by Franz Hula, Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv)

Kaiser Franz Joseph is said to awaken early in the morning around 6.30 every day. He had his second breakfast at the “Schratt Villa” which was close to the Schönbrunn castle. Katharina Schratt would bake and serve her Gugelhupf every day according to a recipe from her mother.

Gugelhupfrezept aus Anna Fink: Die Küche des Mittelstandes. Neues Wiener Kochbuch für jeden Haushalt. Wien: Moritz Stern 1907, S. 507 pwe Wikimedia

Gugelhupfrezept aus Anna Fink: Die Küche des Mittelstandes. Neues Wiener Kochbuch für jeden Haushalt. Wien: Moritz Stern 1907, S. 507 (per Wikimedia)

If her own baking skills should fail, she also ordered an extra for the daily cake as a back-up from the traditional confectionery bakery Zauner. This is why the “Double” was soon called Kaisergugelhupf or Schratt-Gugelhupf.

 The Konditorei Zauner Bakery and Pastry shop, the parent company in Pfarrgasse in Bad Ischl (per Wikimedia)
Konditorei Zauner Bakery and Pastry shop in the Pfarrgasse in Bad Ischl (per Wikimedia)

Katharina Schratt’s recipe has been preserved to this day. We don’t know if it is true that Zauner’s Bakery made six of these cakes at a time, and only the most beautiful was delivered to the Schratt Villa. This story, or better said gossip, sounded interesting and amusing and was told at many Kaffeklatsch’s with the ladies

The real “Kaisergugelhupf” recipe is extremely rich. It is actually made with whole cream! By adding 150 grams (2/3rd cup) of butter and six egg yolks, the dough is not exactly something for calorie or cholesterol aware people. But it is very, very tasty!