The Pre-Lenten season in Germany goes by many names depending on the region. The traditions also vary. It is known as Karneval in Rheinland-Pfalz; Fasching in Bavaria, Berlin, and Austria; and Fastnacht in Baden, Swabia, and Switzerland. Karneval (nicknamed die fünfte Jahreszeit- fifth season) starts on November 11th at 11:11 in the morning and lasts until Fastnachtsdienstag, the day before Ash Wednesday. Today is called Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) and is celebrated with parades- the largest celebration takes place in Cologne.
More information on Karneval.
These doughnuts also go by many names. They are known as Pfannkuchen in Berlin, Brandenburg, Freistaat Sachsen, and Sachsen-Anhalt; Krapfen in Bavaria, Austria, and Northern Italy; Kreppel in Hessen; Fastnachtsküchle in Rheinland-Pfalz and Switzerland; and Fasnetskiachla in Swabia. The type of jam used also depends on the region. Fillings include strawberry, raspberry, plum, cherry, or apricot jam. Variations may also include cream or chocolate.
While looking for common Karneval foods, I noticed one common theme with many countries- fried dough. Berliners in Germany, Beignets in Louisiana, Chiacchiere in Italy- people around the world celebrate the Pre-Lenten season with different types of fried pastries. I rarely fry food, so this was a bit out of my comfort zone. Luckily, this was a fairly easy dough to work with and I used a thermometer to make sure the oil stayed at the right temperature.
I filled my Berliner with raspberry and strawberry jam. The strawberry ones were my favorite. Be careful with the size pastry tip you use. It needs to be the smallest possible, while also large enough to let the jam through. I ended up having to switch to an almost medium tip, because the jam kept getting stuck with the small tip. Practice piping first before you completely fill the pastry bag. It wasn’t very fun to have to empty out the bag to change tips.
Berliner (German Doughnut)
Adapted from Group Recipes
Berliner (German Doughnut)
- 1 cup warm milk 115 degrees Fahrenheit
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups cake flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks
- Canola oil for frying
- 10 ounces jam raspberry, strawberry, plum, cherry, or apricot
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- In a small bowl, combine warm milk and butter, stirring to melt. Sprinkle yeast over the milk and stir to combine. Let sit until yeast softens and begins to foam, about 10 minutes.
- In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with a dough blade, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add milk and egg yolks. Process until a smooth dough forms.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Time permitting, place bowl in refrigerator after doubling to chill, making the dough easier to roll out.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it is 1/2 inches thick. Cut with a 3 inch circular cutter and allow the cut doughnuts to rise until puffy, about 30 minutes.
- In a large saucepan, heat 3 inches of canola oil over medium heat to maintain a temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry the doughnuts, about 3 at a time to avoid overcrowding and top side down first, until they are golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove with a large slotted spoon to a towel lined plate.
- Fit a pastry bag with a small to medium tip and fill with jam. Use a toothpick to poke a hole in the side of each doughnut and pipe in the jam. Top with powdered sugar.
i love jelly doughnuts. these look delish! great tradition.
I just started to make these berliners. I just hope they turn out. Its for a school project at school. I will reply after to tell you how they went thank you!!!
they look great it only takes a min!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I made these for a school project & everyone loved them. They’re not too sweet & the dough is super tender. This is definitely one recipe to hang on to. Thanks for sharing!
I was born and raised in Berlin and never heard anyone using the name “Berliner” for this item We were calling it “Pfann(e)kuchen” . Pfanne is the German word for pan.
Hi Peter! Yes, I mentioned in this post that they are called Pfannkuchen in Berlin 🙂 . I used Berliner in the title since I grew up calling Pfannkuchen the thin pancakes.
I’m from °Germany Mannheim and we call them Berliner!! echt lecker
Hi. Can I make berliner with any dough nut dough.. asking coz it’s easier to work with a familiar dough. But I have no doubt the one that’s mentioned here is delicious too.
Hi Chathuri! I haven’t personally tried it, but let me know how it goes!
made these yesterday for my German friends. everyone loved them. Followed the recipe. they were so light and easy to make. Will definitely make them again. Thank you so much.
I am going to attempt to “Air Fry” my Berliners; I lived in Germany for 4 1/2 years and every Friday on my ride to work I would stop at the local bakery and pick up a couple of these delicacies to enjoy along the way.
Hi Marge! Let me know how it goes! I don’t have an air fryer yet to try, but am interested in the results.
I’ve made these Berliners a few times now in my air fryer, quick and easy without the oil mess. I lightly sprayed the dough with avocado oil before cooking and again when I flipped them over.
I must say they are still better fried. There is a German baker who comes to the Saturday market and I occasionally buy a few from him in addition to the bread mice.
Thanks for this recipe:)
Hi Marge! Thanks for the update! Glad to know it works. I still haven’t gotten an air fryer, but it is in my wishlist.