It was a festival leading up to 40 days of strict fasting for Lent, but although there are not many who "Fast" these days, the tradition of eating calorie busting food, and lots of it, during Karneval celebrations has gone nowhere.
Reibekuchen, potato pancakes, Kartoffelsalat, potato salad, Frikadellen, meat balls, Sauerbraten, pot roast, Chili con Carne, sausages, thick soup, ham and cheese pretzels, with Gluehwein or Beer to help it all go down, are just a few of the snacks on stands and in cafes along Carnival routes.
Although the real favorite has to be Faschingskrapfen; or Berliner, Pfannkuchen, Fastnachtskrapfen, depending on your region. The Carnival Jelly Donuts found everywhere.
Originally the filling was jam or fruit compote, with a shaking of confectioners sugar added after baking, but now there is an ever expanding variety of fillings, toppings and decorations.
"Carnival" or "Mardi Gras" has different names depending on the region of Germany it is being held, and so have the "jelly filled donuts" that are a staple among the Karneval, and New Years Eve treats, in all Carnival areas.
As well as many where Carnival is not celebrated.
Recipes are the same but names range from "Krapfen" in Bavaria, "Kraeppel" in central Germany, "Fastnachtskeuchelchen", little carnival cakes, in some of the Southwestern regions, "Berliner" in North Germany and other Southwestern areas...but never Berliner in Germany's capital Berlin. Carnival isn't really followed there, and donuts are known as "Pfannkuchen".
Any Jelly Doughnut recipe will work, but this recipe, and the fillings, come from a small baker in a Baden Wuerttemberg village, Southwest Germany, and is also used for the New Year's Celebration "Lucky Jelly Donut".
Faschingskrapfen, German Carnival Jelly Doughnut, Recipe - Makes about 20
3-4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup fine sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups warm water (105 to 115 deg F)
1 pkt active dry yeast
2 beaten egg yolks
1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
finely grated rind of 1 untreated lemon
For the fillings:
1/4 cup any flavor of your favorite jam or jelly.
Fruit preserves such as plum, apricot or apple, and this can be "as is" or mixed with a little rum, brandy, or schnapps.
Cooked apples flavored with nutmeg or ginger.
Flavored whipped cream.
Chocolate or vanilla pudding.
Strawberry jam and vodka.
A crystallized plum.
Pineapple cream with coconut and rum.
Caramel sauce...whatever you choose really as long as it is of "jelly" consistency.
Add yeast and pinch sugar to 1/4 cup warm water, allow to stand 2 to 3 minutes, stir
Mix 2 cups flour with sugar and salt.
Make a hollow in the center of the mix and add yeast water combination.
Allow to rise 20 minutes.
Add beaten egg yolks and the remaining water and butter.
Beat until combined.
Add lemon rind and remaining flour, mix until it is a soft dough.
Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, takes between 5 to 10 minutes,.
Place in a lightly greased bowl in a warm place, and cover, allowing to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch dough down.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured board, until it is 1/4 inch thick, then using glass or cutter cut into 2 inch rounds.
One half of the rounds have one teaspoon of filling placed in centre, the edges are moistened with egg white, and pressing firmly to seal the edges a second round is placed on top.
Cover with tea towel and allow to rise for 15 minutes.
Fry in shallow vegetable oil heated to 375 F, which will not completely cover the doughnuts, for 4 minutes on each side or until browned.
After some practise you will manage the authentic white ribbon that runs around the middle of the Krapfen.
Be careful not to put too many Krapfen in at one time as they must not overlap.
Remove with slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar, or cover with a colored, flavored or white sugar cookie glaze, melted chocolate, shredded coconut, cookie sprinkles.
If making unfilled doughnuts the dough can be rolled out to a thickness of 3/4 inches; allowed to rise and fried.
Serve fresh because they become stale by the end of the day.
Karneval being "the silly season" there is a custom that a single "Krapfen" is filled with strong mustard, and then served with the more conventionally flavored ones. This is a joke played on the unsuspecting person who bites into it. Although whether they always see it that way...hmmm.
"Alaaf" and "Helau" Enjoy Your Carnival Jelly Donuts!
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Illustrations courtesy Reit im Winkl Chiemgau, Josef Tuerk Jun via Wikipedia Commons and Baden-Wurttemberg Tourismus
Carnival Funnel Cake is known as 'Strauben' in the German speaking world, and this kid friendly Starter Kit makes producing great Funnel Cakes at home both quick and easy.
The Eyewitness Travel Guide for Germany is absolutely the best travel book available for anyone, who wants to visit the country. Either from the comfort of their armchair or in person. With stunning illustrations and descriptions which not only go into depth and cover everything any traveler would ever need, they are also written in a way that makes them fascinating to read for anyone interested in Germany. My personal favorite.