It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, and since it’s now Fasching, I took the opportunity and enlisted my boyfriend’s father to teach me how to make Krapfen. He spent a couple of hours with me on Saturday afternoon to impart me with his very own personal Krapfen recipe.
And let me tell you, these are the best Krapfen I have ever eaten in my life!
They are homemade ones and the Krapfen recipe we used has no sugar (besides the sugar in the jam). This makes them much lighter and tastier in my opinion, but since there are no additives they only last 2-3 days before they become harder.
But who am I kidding, who will keep them for so long anyway?
About the Krapfen tradition
For those of you who do not know, Carneval or Fasching is celebrated in February or March every year. The most important day is Faschingsdienstag (Pancake Tuesday), which marks the last day before the fasting period running up to Easter. This is usually celebrated by people dressing up in costumes, parading on the street, drinking and eating. Krapfen became a staple of this celebration because they are cheap to make and give you a lot of energy. This made them perfect as a last spurt food before the 40 days of fasting.
Where does the Krapfen come from?
There are many theories as to where the Krapfen comes from.
One legend is that the Viennese baker Cäcilie Krapf invented the cake around the 19th century and they used to be very popular in balls and galas of the higher classes. Originally, they were called “Cillikugeln” (Cilli balls) but then the baker’s last name was taken as official name for the dish.
Another legend says that it was invented in a bakery in Berlin. The baker allegedly prepared a “cannonball-shaped” cake for soldiers, which was cooked in oil. Nowadays still, the Krapfen is called “Berliner” in many parts of Germany.
However, the Krapfen may have even deeper roots going back to Roman times, as ancient Romans also used to eat “Globuli” – a globe-shaped cake filled with honey.
Tips and tricks for the preparation of Krapfen
Here are some tips and tricks that my boyfriend’s father taught me for preparing the perfect Krapfen:
- Make sure you prepare them in a warm room without any draught. The dough and yeast are very sensitive and it might not rise if it gets a bit cold.
- For the same reason, when moulding the dough, you should be gentle and not compress it too much. Otherwise it lose all the air.
- Do not cut out the dough with a cookie cutter! You should always mould them by hand if you want the Krapfen to have that typical white line in the middle.
- Keep the balls of dough always warm under a piece of cloth when you are not using them. This will make them rise more and more. The Krapfen you prepare at the end will probably be bigger than the ones at the beginning.
- When preparing the balls of dough, make sure that the dough is spread evenly so that it will float flat in the oil. This will make sure that the Krapfen will have that beautiful lighter line in the middle.
- We used specialized flour for Krapfen from Slovenia (I will add a picture to the gallery below). But you can use also other brands, like this Austrian one. But I think any type of white cake flour will suffice.
- If you are not sure if the oil is hot enough, do a test run first with only one of the Krapfen.
- Fill the Krapfen while they are still warm.
- Use oil instead of butter or margerine, because these two types of fat make the Krapfen harder.
Dough for about 25 Krapfen.
- 1 kg Krapfen flour (or cake flour)
- 1,5 cubes of yeast
- 500 ml warm water
- 50 ml sunflower oil
- 1 egg
- dash of rum
- 1 jar of apricot jam
- powdered sugar
For frying, you should have a large pot (with a lid) and fill it with 3-4 fingers of sunflower oil – enough to make the Krapfen float.
Preparing the dough
- Make sure you are preparing the dough in a warm place with no draughts. Lay some pieces of cloth on a countertop, here you will later on place the balls of dough to make your krapfen.
- Take the yeast out of the fridge at least two hours before you plan on making your krapfen, as it needs to get to room temperature.
- Put flour in a large bowl and crumble in the yeast. Add half of the water and the oil and start working the dough.
- Break the egg inside the water and add to the dough, working it continuously until it does not stick to your hands anymore.
- Leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Cooking the Krapfen
- Before you start working the dough, place the pot with oil on low heat.
- On a room-temperature chopping board, cut the dough in half lenghtwise and put one half back in the bowl.
- Cut the dough into 10-12 pieces. Flour your hands and work them gently one at a time into a ball. You should hold the dough with both hands, try to “open” the dough with your thumbs, until the top looks like a nice dome and the bottom a bit scrunched up. Then roll the ball, dome side up, between both hands.
- Place the krapfen one by one on the cloth on the counter and cover them with another cloth to keep warm.
- Repeat for the whole dough. When finished, leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- Flip the Krapfen one at a time (as many as it fits in the pot, leaving them space to grow) with the dome side down in the oil. Cover the pot and let it fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Uncover the pot and flip the Krapfen one at a time and leave to cook, until the oil nearly stops bubbling.
- Remove the Krapfen one at a time and place them on a cooling rack to let the excess oil drip.
- Repeat for every ball of dough.
- Take a siringe, fill it with apricot jam and inject it inside every Krapfen from the side.
- Sprinkle the Krapfen with powdered sugar passed through a sieve.
Find out more recipes from Austria in this section here.