Saturday, 3 February 2018

Mardi Gras - Shrove Tuesday - Fasching

Just a short while ago was New Year and now we are already in February! This is the time that many countries in the world prepare feverishly  to get the last costumes and floats ready and everything else which makes a carnival successful.

Naturally, food also plays an important part in the festivities! My favourite is the traditional German doughnut, called Berliner everywhere except Berlin, where it is called Pfannkuchen! To add to the confusion, literally translated Pfannkuchen means pancake, which the British use with great enthusiasm to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. But I mean a fluffy, round doughnut filled with Pflaumenmus, known as plum butter in English. If not available, a tasty jam of your choice will be just as good.

Doughnuts - Berliner - Pfannkuchen

Doughnuts are not difficult to make but the dough requires sufficient time to rise. There are two ways to prepare doughnuts - baking in the oven or deep frying. The recipe is the same for both. I will show the deep fried version. Now for the how to:

You will need a deep fryer or fairly large pot. I prefer to use a wok because of the shape. It requires less oil and has a larger surface for frying. You will want a couple of tablespoons to place the doughnuts in the hot oil and a spider or similar to remove and drain them after frying. A lot of kitchen paper or crumpled newspaper is needed to absorb as much oil as possible. A cake syringe is needed for filling the doughnuts.

Dough after the second rising

500g flour, 2 eggs, 50g butter, 3 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 1/2 tsp dried yeast, lukewarm milk, vegetable oil for deep frying, jam for filling and sugar for coating.


 Mix yeast with sugar and a little of the milk in a small bowl. Cover and allow to become foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Break eggs into a measuring jar and top with milk to give you 1/4 l (250ml) and whisk. Add the softened butter to the egg milk and stir to help it dissolve. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add the frothy yeast and the egg/butter/milk. Knead thoroughly. Cover bowl with a dishcloth or clingfilm and allow to rise for 15 - 20 minutes, depending on your temperature. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead again, then put dough back into bowl, cover and let rise again for another 15 - 20 minutes. Now divide dough into 12 to 15 equal pieces, 75 or 60 grams each, as you prefer. If no scales are available you can gauge the size halfway between a golf ball and a tennis ball. Place the balls on a lightly floured tray and cover as before. This time allow to rise for about 45 minutes. If you use a deep fryer get the oil to 180℃, if using a pot or wok the temperature is correct if a wooden spoon held into the oil produces lively bubbles.

Almost ready for frying (or baking)

When the dough is ready and the oil is hot enough, start frying the doughnuts. 2 - 3 minutes each side is all that is needed.

You can see why I like to use my wok!

Lift out the done doughnuts and place on absorbent paper to remove excess oil. Fill syringe with the preferred jam (you can also use Nutella or similar) and a bowl with granulated sugar. Roll each doughnut in the bowl with sugar and before lifting it out of the bowl inject about a generous teaspoonful of jam at the side of the doughnut where the pale line shows.

The filling with jam  can be a bit messy!
Instead of rolling the doughnuts in sugar, they can be filled and then dusted with sifting icing sugar over while they are still hot. Another way is to mix sifted icing sugar with a little warm water and a dash of fresh lemon juice to make a thin glaze which is then brushed over the top of each doughnut.

If you are cautious about consumption of oil you can equally well bake the risen doughnuts in a preheated oven at 180℃ for 15 - 20 minutes. Then you complete the doughnuts as before.

These Berliners are not only eaten at Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday or Fastnacht but throughout the carnival period and New Year! Please, let me know if you made them and how you liked them!



  1. Wow. Missing all this. YUM.

  2. And they tasted mighty delicious tot... I like the idea of using Nutella as well.


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