Known as Pfannkuchen in Berlin, Kreppel in Hessen, Krapfen in Southern Germany and Berliner just about everywhere else (excluding various dialectical variations), the jelly-filled donut, the cause of much unintended mirth when John F. Kennedy famously declared “Ich bin ein Berliner”, is a quintessential culinary component of Germany’s carnival season.
Carnival season, known as Fasching, Karneval or Fastnacht, depending on the region, is celebrated mostly in catholic areas of Germany, yet the ubiquitous donut is a hit wherever you go. During the carnival season you’ll find bakeries on every street corner with their counters piled high with various types of donuts, most filled with jam but also with vanilla cream, chocolate or even egg nog.
Here’s a recipe for you to make your own genuine German Krapfen.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 oz fresh yeast
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp lukewarm milk
5 egg yolks
2 1/2 oz butter at room temperature
Vegetable oil for frying
German jelly such as raspberry, cherry, plum or apricot
Place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the center. Crumble the yeast into it with 1 tbsp sugar and 3 tbsp lukewarm milk. Mix together and allow to stand in a warm place for about 15 minutes.
Add the remaining milk, sugar, egg yolks, room temperature butter and a pinch of salt to the dough and knead into a smooth dough in a food processor with a dough kneading attachment. Mix until the dough appears to detach easily from the sides of the bowl.
Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (approx 30-60 minutes).
Roll out the dough into 3/4 inch thickness on a floured surface and cut of circles approximately 3 inches in diameter using a glass or cup. Allow the cut-out dough circles to stand for a further 10 minutes covered with a dish towel.
Heat the oil to 370 degrees F in a deep-fryer or large saucepan. Lower the donuts 2 to 3 at a time into the hot oil and fry until the puff up and turn golden brown.
Remove the fried donuts from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels.
Allow the donuts to cool then fill them with jam using a decorating syringe with a long thin needle. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and enjoy!