Ich bin ein Berliner… or something like that!

Have you ever tried a “German doughnut”, a Berliner, a Krapfen or a Fastnachtsküchle? No? Oh, dear. You missed out big time, I’m afraid.

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Today is what we call “Rosenmontag“, Carnival Monday, the highlight of German carnival, the day of raving carnival parades, crazy costumes and one endless party. To be honest, I hate it. The disguises, the craziness, the drunk people out on the streets, the roadside breath tests every few kilometres… but there is one thing I really apreciate this time of the year – the Berliner.

It’s made of a sweet yeast dough, fried in hot oil and has a jam- or creme- (vanilla, Baileys, eggnogg, Nutella, whatever flavour you could possibly imagine) filled centre. It’s covered in cinnamon and powdered sugar and taking your first bite feels like an epiphany. I spent the better half of today making Berliner and a similar type of doughnuts (made with baking powder instead of yeast) called “Quarkbällchen”.

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If you want to try to make your own Berliner and Quarkbällchen and get a taste of German carnival, here are the recipes for you.

Quarkbällchen (super-easy, perfect for beginners!)
– makes about 20 –

In a mixer with paddle attachement mix for 3-5 minutes

250 g plain flour
80 g sugar
2 g salt
12 g baking powder
300 g quark
13 g cooking oil
100 g butter (liquid)
3 eggs
1 egg yolk

Let sit for about 30-45 minutes. Heat about 2 l of cooking oil (or deep-frying fat) in a pot (or use a deep fryer), use an ice-cream scoop to drop portions of dough into the hot oil and deep-fry at 180°C for 5-10 minutes until golden brown (make sure to turn them around from time to time). Use a slotted spoon to take the Quarkbällchen out and roll them in either white sugar or a mix of white sugar and cinnamon powder. Enjoy.

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Berliner (a bit trickier, but if you follow the instructions, it shouldn’t be too complicated)
– makes about 17 –

Using a mixer with dough hook, mix

250 g flour
250 g milk
21 g yeast

After 3-5 minutes add

300 g flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
75 g butter (liquid)
40 g sugar
1 pinch of salt

Knead for about 10 minutes on low speed and another 4-5 minutes on high speed. Let the dough prove for about 30 minutes in a warm place (kitchen counter, for instance). Cut pieces of 50-60 g each and roll them either on the counter or in your hands to form little balls. Let them sit on the counter (or on a baking tray, covered with a teatowel) until their twice their original size (this might take a while, be patient!).IMG_8351.JPG

Then put them upside down into the cooking oil (again at 180°C), cover the pot with a lid and let them cook for 3 minutes (placing the lid on top of the pot is very important as it keeps the steam inside the pot and enhances the volume of your Berliner). Use a slotted spoon to turn them upside down and let them cook for another 3 minutes. Take out and dip them in a mix of white sugar and cinnamon. (By the way, the white stripe around the middle is characteristic for this type of baked good and it’s a sign of high quality and the right method of cooking!)

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You can fill them with anything you like, using a thin nozzle on your pastry bag and your favourite marmalade, jam or pudding. I used vanilla pudding mixed with eggnogg but this also works with Baileys or any other liquor you like. Some people also cut them open like you would a bun, and spread Nutella on one half before putting the two halves back together. Get creative! Once you have them filled, dust them with powdered sugar and impress your guests (or your family or simply yourself) with traditional German Berliner/Krapfen. Enjoy!

P.S.: No, Kennedy wasn’t talking about these delicious things when he famously said “Ich bin ein Berliner!“. He really meant “I am a person from Berlin”, not “I am a German carnival doughnut”. Famous words…

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