Vanilla-chocolaty, magnificently light and spongy, and with a glass of milk just plain irresistible: the Guglhupf. The most German of all cakes is a staple of any birthday or coffee spread – simply because it’s a universal favourite. The Munich-based baker Chalwa Heigl has completely reinvented the pound cake classic. Her Gugl may be no bigger than a praline, but it is delicious on a heavenly scale.
Ms Heigl, what gave you the idea to make miniature Guglhupf cakes?
One day I went into a coffee shop and bought a muffin to go. As I unwrapped this greasy, already completely crumbly thing back home, I asked myself how it was possible that in Germany – a country with one of the oldest baking cultures – there was no local equivalent to mini cakes such as cupcakes, muffins, donuts or macarons. Then I asked myself what cake is truly, typically German. And that would be, of course, the Guglhupf. I then simply relaunched it as a “cake praline”.
The Gugl slogan says: “Happiness can also come in small sizes”. Is smaller better?
Nowadays it seems that everything has to be XXL. Yet I believe that bigger or having more of something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good. Honestly, isn’t it the small, fine, exquisite things that make you happy? Besides that, I like the variety. Because our Gugl are so small, you can try out different flavours without feeling stuffed from just one.
Judging by your slim figure, it’s hard to believe that you work in the land of milk and honey. Aren’t you constantly tempted to nibble and snack?
Not only am I tempted, but I have to; in the end, I’m responsible for quality control (laughs). Luckily, I have good genes and the Gugl doesn’t stay on my hips.
Traditionally, Guglhupf are made out of vanilla and chocolate dough. However, your Gugl exist in an extravagant array of flavours, such as candied plum, saffron and rose physalis. Where do the ideas for all these creations come from?
I developed the first recipes together with a friend who is a renowned pastry chef. Today I work alone. I love to experiment. My co-workers try the samples and give me feedback as to whether we should add them to the range or not.
How many different kinds are there?
That depends on the season, but we have about 20 different flavours in our collection. All lovingly handmade, by the way!
There’s even a “Wiesn-Gugl” available only as a limited edition during the Munich Oktoberfest. What’s in it? Beer, I suppose?
Indeed, there’s actually a dash of wheat beer in it, mellowed by the addition of elderflower and nuts, that add a truly subtle malty note. You can get one individually as a “GlücksGugl” – or lucky Gugl – accompanied by little printed humorous puns on the word Gugl, or in an Oktoberfest four-pack.
Which is your favourite?
It’s always changing. But I’m looking forward to the summer, which is when we’ll be making juicy lemon and egg liqueur and coconut-lime Gugl again.
With a bit of luck, one can encounter your small van – the Guglmobile – on the streets of Munich, selling Gugl and good coffee to go. Where and when is the van out and about?
Most recently it was parked at the Münchner Freiheit. For exact dates, visit our website www.dergugl.de.
Meanwhile, you’ve already published the fourth edition of your Gugl recipe book, and created a silicon baking mould for 18 Gugl. The fifth edition is already in the making…
That’s right. It’s a children’s recipe book and it’s scheduled to come out in spring 2016.