Alsatian Pottery

The Alsace region of France is a popular tourist destination for many reasons. It boasts of picturesque towns along the Alsatian wine route, with majestic castles and churches, romantic rivers, historic bridges, and delicious French cuisine. But it’s also a popular spot for pottery too.

My favourite Alsatian village is Riquewihr. The village, uniquely beautiful with colourful, half-timbered buildings and small vineyards, has several stores with their own workshops, each producing distinctly unique designs and color palettes of pottery. Also popular for the Riesling and other wines produced in the village. Riquewihr looks today more or less as it did in the 16th century. It is located on the Route des Vins (The Wines Road), close to Colmar.  Riquewihr was one of the few towns in the area not to be badly damaged during World War II. The town is surrounded by its medieval fortifications and is overlooked by a castle from the same period that is today a museum.

When I think of the fabulous cuisine of Alsace, I conjure up images of delicious, hearty dishes prepared and/or served in beautiful, colourful, locally-produced pottery.  Kugelhopf (yeast-induced, slightly sweet  cake baked in turban-shaped forms), onion and apple tarts, sauerkraut left to ferment in specifically-designed pots, terrines, garlicky snails nestled in half circle crevices on round plates.

Kugelhopf

Kugelhopf is a festive, crown-shaped yeasted bread traditionally baked in a heavy earthenware mold. One legend suggests it originated in an Alsatian village, when the Three Kings presented it to a local baker named Kugel, who had hosted them.

Ingredients 

  • 500g flour
  • 25g bread yeast
  • 20cl milk
  • 125g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 80g raisons
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g almonds
  • 10g salt

Crumble the bread yeast in 10cl of lukewarm milk, add 100g of flour and mix until getting a slightly soft dough. Let it rise in a lukewarm place. Let the raisons soak in lukewarm water.

In a container, knead vigorously the flour, the eggs, the rest of the milk, the sugar and the salt for about 10 minutes, until the dough doesn’t stick anymore. Incorporate the softened butter and the dough, which should now have doubled in volume. Work on the dough a bit more,  cover it with a cloth and then let it rise for one hour in a lukewarm place. After this time, knock back the dough and incorporate the raisons. Butter the Kugelhopf mould, put two almonds per groove at the bottom and pour the dough in the mould.

Let the dough rise a second time, until it rises above the edge of the mould.

Put in the oven at 180°C and bake it for about 40 minutes

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