It’s that time of year again, when ‘Fasching’ or Carnival in Germany reaches a week-long peak of festivities, partying and general frivolity before the gloomier days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday. It’s also the last change to gorge on Krapfen or German Carnival Donuts!
What’s in a name?
As a cook, the most interesting part of any celebration is what sort of food is being consumed. Carnival is the season of the Krapfen, or the jelly filled doughnut. Like lots of regional specialities in Germany it goes by different names depending on where you find it.
In Bavaria and Austria, carnival doughnuts are called Krapfen. In the Hessen area, you’ll find Kräpperl instead. Through most of the rest of Germany these sweet treats are called a Berliner – though if you order one in Berlin you’ll need to ask for a Pfannkuchen (pancake)!
Confused yet? Not to worry, all you really need to know is that these light, fluffy doughnuts are fun and easy to make at home.
To make Krapfen, you’ll need the following simple ingredients:
- Flour: Plain or all purpose flour is suitable for this recipe.
- Milk: I always use full-fat milk in all baking recipes.
- Yeast: Fresh yeast is commonly used in Germany, though you can use active dried yeast as well.
- Sugar: White sugar is suitable for making krapfen.
- Butter: I always use unsalted butter in baking recipes so I can control the levels of salt in the final product.
- Egg yolks: To add richness to the yeast dough.
- Berry or Apricot Jam / Jelly: For filling the donuts, though you can let your imagination go wild when it comes to fillings. Bailey’s spiked cream is out of this world delicious.
- Vegetable oil or shortening: for deep frying. I prefer to use shortening for frying as it is solid at room temperature so easier for storing if I use it more than once.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long do Krapfen keep?
While best eaten on the same day, Krapfen are perfectly tasty for a day or two after cooking.
Can I prepare Krapfen in advance?
Yes! A sweetened yeast dough like the one in this recipe will keep for at least 2 days in a covered container in the fridge. When you are ready to cook, allow it to rise at room temperature for about an hour and then follow the recipe from shaping the Krapfen onwards.
Can I use other fillings than jam or jelly?
Absolutely! Bakeries in Germany pride themselves at Carnival/Fasching time by coming up with as many weird and wonderful flavours of Krapfen as possible.
Vanilla pastry cream, lemon curd, Nutella, Tiramisu flavoured, Prosecco cream, you name it, it’s been done – as long as it has a thickish consistency so you can pipe it into the middle.
Can I use this recipe to make ordinary donuts?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Grab my cinnamon donut recipe here.
More delicious German recipes
Fancy some more German sweet treats? How about a classic German Cheesecake? Or a beautiful German Strawberry Cake? Check out even more German recipes here!
Krapfen (German Donuts) Recipe card
Krapfen (German Carnival Donuts)
Light, fluffy donuts, filled with jam and dusted with sugar. Krapfen are delicious morsels traditionally eaten in Germany at Carnival or Mardi Gras time.
- 200 ml (¾ cup + a splash) full-fat milk
- 21 g fresh yeast / 7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
- 500 g (4 cups) plain or all purpose flour, separated 300g / 200g (3/5 - 2/5)
- 50 g (¼ cup) white sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 50 g (½ stick) unsalted butter, very soft
- 2 egg yolks, beaten
- 750 ml-1 litre (1 qt.) vegetable oil or shortening
- 400 g (14 oz.) berry jam, seedless
- 4 Tbsp rum, optional
- icing / powdered sugar, for dusting
- SOFTEN YEAST: Begin by heating the milk slightly in a small saucepan until it is just warm. Remove from the heat, sprinkle or crumble over the yeast and set aside.
- MIX DOUGH: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook fitted (see note 1) combine 300g flour, sugar, vanilla and salt. While mixing, add the butter and egg yolks, then give the milk and yeast mixture a stir and pour it into the bowl. Run the mixer on high until the ingredients are combined, then with the mixer on low add the remaining flour. Knead for 5 minutes.
- CHECK DOUGH: After 5 minutes the dough should be moving freely around the bowl of the mixer, and only lightly sticky. If it is still a little liquid or sticking to the sides of the bowl add one tablespoon of flour and knead for another minute.
- REST DOUGH: When the dough has finished kneading, shape it into a ball - it should feel soft, springy and elastic - don’t worry if it’s a little sticky, this is normal, just dust it with a little flour if it makes it easier to handle. Place it back in the bowl, cover with a clean cloth or some clingfilm and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minute until risen.
- SHAPE DOUGH: When the dough has risen, turn it out onto the bench top, it shouldn’t be sticky but if so very lightly flour the dough. Flatten out the air and divide into 12 equal pieces. I find it useful to weigh the dough so that my pieces are as even as possible, each piece should weigh around 80g for perfectly sized Krapfen.
- SECOND RISE: Roll each into a ball, place on a lightly floured tray, then cover again and allow to rest for another 30 minutes.
- PREPARE OIL AND JAM: Meanwhile prepare a saucepan for the oil - I use one which has a diameter of 22cm and a depth of 10cm, this will fit 3 Krapfen at a time. Prepare the jam by heating it in a small saucepan with the rum or a little water or juice, let cool for a minute or two then fill into a piping bag fitted with a long nozzle.
- COOK KRAPFEN: When the Krapfen have risen, heat the oil - if you have a thermometer you can heat the oil to 160°C, otherwise heat until the end of a wooden spoon bubbles when dipped in the oil (see picture). Using a slotted spoon or strainer, gently place three Krapfen rounded side down in the oil. Turn the heat right down to low, then cover with a lid and allow to cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the Krapfen right side up and cook another 2-3 minutes, without stirring or moving them around, until golden brown. Remove from the saucepan using a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towel.
- FILL KRAPFEN: Check the oil temperature, place the next three Krapfen in the oil and cover. While they are cooking use the piping bag to pierce a hole in the side of the Krapfen and fill with jam. Repeat until all of the Krapfen are cooked. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm.
- If you don’t have a stand mixer you can still make Krapfen, it just takes a little more muscle. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough, keep stirring for a minute or two until it is a little less sticky, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until you have a smooth dough, about 5 minutes. For best results instead of adding more flour, you can lightly oil your hands and the work surface instead.
- Imperial and cup measurements are approximate. For best and most accurate results I use and recommend a digital kitchen scale like the one below.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 krapfen
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 905Total Fat: 83gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 70gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 117mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 3gSugar: 19gProtein: 4g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
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