It’s that time of year again for Krapfen. Those wonderful, fried, sweet yeast dough confections that are filled with jam or marmalade and topped with powdered or conventional sugar. Why not have an easy Krapfen recipe on hand to break out whenever you want a doughnut? Yes, these are basically jelly doughnuts but they’re doughnuts with meaning and history!
Okay, so I hesitate to call them “doughnuts” because some Germans are just adamant that they are NOT doughnuts. That’s at least what I grew up with this. They’re Krapfen (or Berliners) but definitely not doughnuts. Maybe that’s just because they were comparing them to the North American doughnuts with holes? I don’t know.
The History and Meaning
Krapfen are available year round at bakeries in Southern Germany these days. It used to be that they were only a thing around Fasching, also known as Fastnacht or Karneval, depending on where you are (southern or westerner Germany, Austria or Switzerland). Fasching is similar to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras or Rio’s Carnival, if you’re more familiar with those events. It’s a way for predominately Roman Catholic areas to let loose, let your hair down and have tons of rather naughty fun before you button-down for the next 40 days of Lent. The basic reason behind the Krapfen around this time was to clear the pantry of sugar, butter and fat as they were often given up during that period of fasting.
I should be also clear that the moniker, Krapfen, is used primarily in Southern Germany and Austria. Berliners is a northern German term for these and Hessen calls them Kreppel.
And, yes, at the time of writing this post, Lent has already begun and traditionally, Krapfen would no longer be available. However, I’m an adult now. I can have doughnuts whenever I want.
What Makes them Quick and Easy
Pillsbury Grands. That’s the cheat.
If you were reading my posts last year around this time, you might remember that I tried to make mini krapfen from scratch. I wasn’t 100% successful as I just could not achieve the holy grail of homemade doughnuts – the white ring. I almost didn’t try again this year because I was still a little sore about how much of a mess the process made in my tiny kitchen. Then I saw a post from Shugary Sweets on how she makes Boston Cream Donuts using Pillsbury biscuits. What? Really? People are doing this? How easy!
Thank you, Aimee. They really do work like a charm.
(Unfortunately, that does mean that this easy Krapfen recipe will likely only work in North America. Sorry!)
Quick and Easy Krapfen (Berliners)
- 1 can of Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers Original Biscuits
- The Jam or Jelly of your Choice (rosehip, plum butter or red currant is traditional)
- Powdered Sugar
- Oil for Frying (I used canola)
Equipment I use:
- Medium Pot with Lid
- Large Metal Slotted Spoon
- Metal Thermometer
- Paper Towels
- Wire Cooling Rack
- Wooden Spoon
- Flour Sifter or Metal Sieve
- Small Sandwich Baggie or Pastry Bag with Metal Tip
Can be topped with Vanilla Sugar. Check out my recipe here on how to always have it on hand.
Fill your pot with about 1.5 – 2 inches of oil.
I highly recommend canola, sunflower or safflower as they’re neutral with a high smoke point. Do not use olive because it’s definitely not neutral in flavour.
Heat the oil to 350F degrees. I use my digital meat thermometer and it works well enough.
If your burners are like mine, you’ll have a hard time keep the temperature consistent. Therefore, and I can’t stress this enough, you might need to do some experimenting on which temperature and time frame works best for you and your stove. I tried several different recipe times and temperatures (Pillsbury recommends 375, for example and some recipes call for frying them for 2 minutes per side) and wasn’t getting good results until I adjusted. So, here’s a place to start but experiment with the first few. Luckily, they’re still pretty good even if they’re dark!
When the oil temperature is sitting around 350. Pop the biscuits out of the can. (Am I the only one that hates this part?) Gently lay the doughnut(s) into the hot oil.
I fry one at a time because there’s only 8 and I’m a control freak like that. Plus, I’m using a smaller pot.
Close the lid and fry for 1 minute.
This is approximately what it should look like after that 1 minute. All nice and puffed up.
Flip it with a metal spoon. Close the lid and fry for an additional minute.
Take the fried biscuit (now known as an easy Krapfen) out of the oil with your slotted metal spoon and put on a paper towel lined wire cooling rack to absorb some of the extra oil.
Rinse and repeat until all 8 are fried!
When they’ve cooled off enough to touch, sift powdered sugar onto all of the krapfen.
This step and the next step are interchangeable. Do what works for you.
Take the handle of a wooden spoon and insert into the side of each krapfen. This is where we’re later going to pipe in the jam.
Now time to get the jam (or jelly) ready.
This is what I use to put together my makeshift piping bag. I put a tip from my cookie press into the corner of a sandwich bag and spoon in the jam/jelly. If you need an amount, I used about one third of the jar – so a little over 4 ounces.
I push most of the air out of the bag and then “zip” it closed and twist. Maneuver the tip back into the corner if it’s moved. Cut off the corner and push out the metal tip right before you’re ready to pipe the jam into the premade holes.
I’m using red currant jam because it’s one of my favourites. Traditionally, Franconian Krapfen use Hiffenmark or Rosehip jam but plum butter is really popular now too. If you’re in Austria, it’s all about the apricot jam. Use whatever is your favourite or what you have on hand- raspberry, strawberry or get creative and use something unusual!
So, the makeshift piping bag will end up looking something like this.
Gently pipe enough jam each into each doughnut until it starts ooze back out the hole a little.
The great thing about the method of premaking the hole is that more jam will make its way into the doughnut. You don’t just get one small “jam pocket” on one side.
There you have it! Quick and easy krapfen ready to be devoured!
My husband is accusing me of trying to make him fat because I’ve been making so many krapfen lately. I told him he doesn’t have 3+ to eat a day, if he doesn’t want to and he tells me that that’s not possible. They’re too good. That’s a compliment, right?
It’s really nice to have such easy krapfen in my playbook now. I’ll likely try another “from scratch” recipe next year because I feel like I’ve got the frying part down now.
Until then, I hope you enjoy these and they fulfill all your German jelly doughnut dreams!
und Alles Liebe,
Disclosure: The Kitchen Maus may be compensated in exchange for your clicking on links posted within this page. It’s usually not much more than a cup of coffee and it’s never for products that we don’t personally use already.
Quick and Easy Krapfen
- 1 can of Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers Original Biscuits
- The Jam or Jelly of your Choice
- Powdered Sugar
- Oil for Frying
Pour 1 - 2 inches of oil into a medium pot with a lid and heat to 350F degrees. Place 1 - 2 Pillsbury Grands biscuits into the hot oil and fry for 1 minute with the lid closes. Flip and fry for an additional minute with the lid close again. Remove with a slotted spoon and place onto paper towel lined wire cooling rack to absorb some of the extra oil. Repeat until all the dough is fried.
Once they are cool enough to handle, insert a wooden spoon into the side of each of the krapfen to create the "jam pocket". Sift powdered sugar onto all of the krapfen. With a piping bag filled with jam, pipe jam into each hole until it starts to ooze back out again. This is easier done if the doughnut is propped up with the hole at the top.
Rosehip jam is traditional for Krapfen in southern German, as is plum butter and red currant. In Austria, it's all about apricot. However, use whatever you have on hand.
Canola, safflower or sunflower oil are the best choices for frying due to their neutral flavour.
Adapted from Shugary Sweets