No sweat – that’s what I keep telling myself while I’m typing this. I really do hope, that my family and friends forgive me referring to these cutesies as Berliner (which is a correct term, just not in Bavaria). Tip of the day: unless you’re in for a surprised look, try Krapfen - when you’re in Munich. These delicious airy dough balls are basically a doughnut without the hole – so instead of poking one in, we give it a sweet filling like jam or custard.
Yesterday was the last day (hooray!) of what we call Fasching or Karneval (carnival), which, traditionally rooted, is celebrated differently across Germany. While I’ve never been bent on becoming princess, clown or cowgirl for a day, the culinary side-effects to this time of the year are not half bad. Not bad at all – they actually make up for the craziness around.
The good news, you can hardly avoid stumbling into Krapfen, as they are everywhere, and so are other traditional fried dough specialties (Hasenöhrl, Auszogne, Mutzen, Schneeball’n and more). And not just the regular ones (filled with apricot jam, dusted with powdered sugar), they are available filled with chocolate creme, eggnogg custard, champagne custard, raspberry jam and – an old favorite of mine – rose hip jam. I’m most certainly a picky Krapfen eater, they shouldn’t be packed with too much rose hips jam filling and they better not be too greasy. Hard to find, I can tell you!
Now that this year’s carnival season has come to an end, I wanted to try my luck with my very first homemade Krapfen. Fully custom designed: Smaller in size than off the shelf ones (so you could have more without feeling guilty!) and of course filled with my favorite rose hip jam. Since I love working with fresh yeast, it couldn’t really be much of an affair, could it?
We’re not talking rocket science here, the whole procedure is completely doable (a bit of cheating included). Pictures say more than words, a step by step guide:
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a hollow in the center. Add a tablespoon of sugar as well as the crumbled yeast …
… pour the lukewarm milk into the well …
… before carefully stirring once or twice. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let the pre-dough rise for about 15 minutes …
… the surface will start to look bubbly.
Add the other ingredients (the remaining sugar, egg yolks, lukewarm melted butter, a pinch of salt) and …
…knead well, either by hand or with your kitchen machine until dough can be easily removed from the bowl (non-sticky). If it still feels too sticky, add a tad more flour. Let the covered bowl rest again in a warm place for at least 30 minutes or until the dough has almost doubled. Knead briefly …
… then roll out with a rolling pin about 2cm (0,8 inch) thick. Since I wanted to create a miniature version of Krapfen, I used a cookie cutter to stamp out little discs (~5cm/2 inches in diameter).
Let them rest a final time on a floured tray or baking mat, well covered with a kitchen towel.
Meanwhile heat the fat of your choice in a large pot (or deep-fryer) until it reaches the desired frying temperature of 175°C (~345°F).
The original recipe tells you to add the dough pieces upside down, and to flip them after they attain a golden brown color. Which I exactly did. Quite sadly no white ring, the key-feature of Krapfen, anywhere. Here comes the cheating part: I got rid of as much oil as necessary, to stop them from free-floating – iniquitous, I know! On the upside – pun intended – , they now gained a nice ring around their bellies. I verified with online sources afterwards (should have done it in advance!), just to find out, that it’s key to close the lid after sliding the dough pieces into the fat. The developing steam helps to lift the Krapfen up, leaving a lighter ring. Oh well, I’ll make a mental note for next time! Oh and on a final note, always watch the fat’s temperature: if too low, the Krapfen get all greasy, if too high, they get too dark too quick and may not be baked through.
Remove them from the fat with a skimmer when done and let excessive fat drip off on a paper towel.
Let them cool down for a couple of minutes, then fill the minis with your favorite jam using a long piping nozzle. Finally dust these little cuties with powdered sugar and enjoy! And don’t feel obliged to only have them during carnival season!
Recipe source: Ich helf Dir kochen by Hedwig Maria Studer, p.369, adapted
Prep time: ~1,5 hours
Ingredients (yields about 25 Mini-Krapfen):
500g all-purpose flour
20g fresh yeast
250ml lukewarm milk
3 egg yolks (L)
100g melted butter, lukewarm
a pinch of salt
about 750g clarified butter, lard or coconut oil for frying
jam for the filling (preferably apricot or rose hips)
powdered sugar for dusting