How to Make the Authentic Austrian Donut: The Krapfen
When it comes to scrumptious pastries, Austrian cuisine has a lot to offer. One of its famous and delightful treats is the Krapfen, also known as the Austrian donut. Traditionally enjoyed during the Fasching season, which is Austria's carnival celebration, these donuts have a long history dating back to the 17th century. Krapfen are filled with apricot jam and dusted with powdered sugar, making them a delectable dessert or snack. In this article, we will guide you step-by-step on how to create this tasty treat at home.
For the dough:
- 500g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 250ml (1 cup) whole milk, lukewarm
- 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 80g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 1 package (7g) active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lemon
For the filling:
- 250g (1 cup) apricot jam
- 1-liter vegetable oil (for deep frying)
- Powdered sugar
Step 1: Prepare the dough
In a small bowl, combine the lukewarm milk, sugar, and active dry yeast. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until the yeast activates and becomes frothy.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and lemon zest. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the yeast mixture, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract into it. Stir everything together until you form a smooth dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour; if it's too dry, add a splash of milk.
Once the dough is smooth, cover the mixing bowl with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
Step 2: Shape the Krapfen
After the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a thickness of about 1cm (1/2 inch). Use a round cookie cutter or a glass with a diameter of 6-8 cm (2.5-3 inches) to cut out circles from the dough. Place the dough circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving enough space between them for expansion. Cover them with a damp cloth and allow them to rise again for about 30 minutes.
Step 3: Prepare the apricot jam filling
While the dough is resting, warm the apricot jam in a saucepan over low heat. Once it is heated, pass the jam through a fine sieve to remove any large fruit pieces or lumps. Allow the jam to cool down before transferring it to a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle.
Step 4: Fry the Krapfen
In a deep frying pan or a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the vegetable oil to 170°C (338°F). Carefully lower the dough circles into the hot oil and fry them for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they turn golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pan, as this will lower the oil temperature and cause uneven cooking.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the fried Krapfen from the oil and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil. Allow them to cool down slightly before filling.
Step 5: Fill and dust the Krapfen
Once the Krapfen are cool enough to handle, use a small knife to create a small opening on the side of each donut. Insert the nozzle of the piping bag filled with apricot jam into the opening, and gently squeeze to fill each Krapfen with the jam. Be careful not to overfill them, as the jam may ooze out.
Finally, dust the Krapfen generously with powdered sugar. They are best enjoyed fresh, but you can also store them in an airtight container for a day or two.
Tips for Perfect Krapfen
Maintain the right oil temperature: To ensure even cooking and a perfectly golden crust, use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature. If the oil is too hot, the Krapfen will cook too quickly on the outside and remain uncooked inside. If it's too cold, they will absorb more oil and become greasy.
Use high-quality apricot jam: Authentic Austrian Krapfen are filled with apricot jam, which gives them their signature flavor. Using high-quality jam will make a significant difference in taste. You can also experiment with other fruit jams or even custard, but apricot remains the classic choice.
Don't overwork the dough: When mixing the dough, be careful not to overwork it, as this can make the Krapfen tough. Knead the dough gently until it's smooth and elastic.
Fry in small batches: Fry only a few Krapfen at a time to avoid overcrowding the pan, which can lower the oil temperature and lead to uneven cooking. This also makes it easier to monitor their progress and flip them when necessary.
Drain excess oil: After frying, place the Krapfen on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. This will prevent them from becoming soggy and help maintain their crisp exterior.
Now that you know how to make the delectable Austrian Krapfen, you can impress your friends and family with this delicious treat. Whether you're celebrating the Fasching season or simply craving a mouth-watering dessert, these jam-filled delights are sure to satisfy your taste buds. Enjoy your homemade Krapfen with a cup of coffee or tea for a perfect afternoon indulgence.