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Mardi Gras Doughnuts (Faschingkrapfen)



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Mardi Gras Doughnuts


KaffeeHaus: Exquisite Desserts
from the Classic Cafes of
Vienna, Budapest, and Prague icon

by Rick Rodgers, 2002, Clarkson Potter


The Story Behind Faschingkrapfen

“In the Danube region, many foods are related to the season, but probably none
as much so as the filled doughnuts known as Faschingkrapfen. They were tradi-tionally served only in the carnival season period between Epiphany and Ash
Wednesday, with huge Faschingkrapfen feasts on Mardi Gras. Even though
bakeries now offer them year-round, old-timers consider this a sacrilege.
This is another Viennese recipe that is filled with myth and legend. For a while, Faschingkrapfen were called ‘Cillikrapfen’, as they were a specialty of a baker named Cecile (Cilli was her nickname). It was claimed that Cilli invented the doughnut when she angrily threw a piece of dough at her husband and it landed
in a pot of cooking fat. This story isn’t likely, as Faschingkrapfen are intricately
made, and not just tossed in oil.
Regardless of their pedigree, the Viennese love Faschingkrapfen, How much?
It is said that during the pre-Lenten celebrations of the Congress of Vienna,
the royal bakers made more than fifteen million Faschingkrapfen to meet
the demand.
I was once in Vienna on Fat Tuesday [Mardi Gras] and went on a Fasching-
krapfen crawl with my friend Karitas at the Naschmarkt, Vienna’s outdoor
market. Not only did every bakery in the complex sell Faschingkrapfen, they
had temporary tables set up with heaping mountains of doughnuts, sold by
staff bedecked in Mardi Gras costumes. We bought a selection of about two
dozen and, armed with a plastic knife to cut them into bite-size pieces, we
went to a local coffeehouse to evaluate them. We expected some resistance
from the waiter (after all, they sell food at the café and probably wouldn’t
want any brought in from the outside), so we prepared ourselves for an argu-
ment. None came. As a Viennese, he understood that two people and two
dozen Faschingkrapfen was the most natural thing in the world, especially
on Mardi  Gras.”

Makes 12 doughnuts

“These feather-light doughnuts are filled with various goodies (apricot pre-
serves, prune butter, chocolate, cooked apples) and stenciled in vanilla-
flavored confectioners’ sugar to identify the filling (an M for ‘Marillen’,
or apricot, and so on). They are sometimes called ‘ribbon doughnuts,’
because the perfectly made ones have a pale band around their equator
(the doughnuts are purposely cooked in a shallow depth of oil so it doesn’t
reach the center, leaving a belt that is cooked by residual heat). Don’t be
concerned if yours lack this mark and are completely golden brown –
they’ll still be delicious.
To cut out the dough, you’ll need two round biscuit cutters, 2 3/4 inches
and 2 1/2 inches in diameter. The first cuts out the dough, and the second
seals the two sandwiched rounds together – an important step to keep the
preserves from seeping out during frying."

2/3 ounce (1/3 cube) fresh compressed yeast or
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) dry yeast
1/2 cup milk (heated to 105 to 115 degrees F
if using dry yeast)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup lukewarm milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon golden rum
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, as needed

Approximately 1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 large egg white, beaten until foamy
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, optional

1. To make the sponge: Crumble the yeast into the milk in a small bowl,
let stand for 3 minutes, and whisk to dissolve the yeast. Add the flour
and sugar and whisk until smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and
let stand until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
2. To make the dough: Whisk the milk, butter, sugar, rum, zest, and salt
in the bowl of a heavy-duty standing mixer. Whisk in the yolks, then
the sponge. Attach to the mixer and fit with the paddle blade. With the
mixer on low speed, gradually add enough of the flour to make a soft,
sticky dough that barely cleans the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed
to medium and beat the dough with the paddle blade (don’t use the
dough hook) for 2 minutes.
3. Gather up the dough into a ball and knead briefly until smooth. Place
the dough in a large buttered bowl, turn to coat with butter, and cover
tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in
volume, 45 to 60 minutes. (The warm ingredients make this dough
rise more quickly than others.)
4. On a very lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch
thick. Using a 2 3/4-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of
dough, set aside on a baking sheet lined with a lightly floured kitchen
towel, and cover loosely with plastic wrap (you can stack the rounds).
Kneading the scraps until smooth, roll and cut out to make a total of
24 rounds, discarding any excess dough.
5. Place a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of preserves in the center of a round.
Moisten the circumference of the round with the egg white. Cover
with a second round, pinching the edges together with your fingertips
(the seal should end up in the middle of the two rounds, forming a
“belt”). Place a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter over the sandwiches
rounds, and press down to cut out a doughnut, discarding the trim-
mings. Double check to be sure the doughnut is sealed. Transfer to
baking sheet lined with a lightly floured kitchen towel. Cover loosely
with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until the doughnuts
have barely risen, about 15 minutes. Do not let the doughnuts rise
until puffy or doubled, or they will expand too much during frying.
6. Pour oil into a large heavy skillet or electric skillet just to a depth of
1/2 inch and heat over high heat to 350 degrees F. Place a wire rack
over a jellyroll pan to drain the doughnuts (this works much more
efficiently than paper towels).
7. Place 3 or 4 doughnuts in the oil and cover. (Covering the doughnuts
during frying goes against deep-frying convention, but this contains
the heat and helps cook the exposed side of the dough.) Fry until
undersides are golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn and fry
uncovered until the other sides are golden brown, about 1 minute.
There should be a white ribbon around the center of each doughnut
where the oil did not reach. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the
doughnuts to the rack to drain and cool. Sift the confectioners’
sugar over the warm doughnuts. Reheat the oil between batches.
Cool the doughnuts completely.

Apple Doughnuts
Substitute canned apple pie filling for the apricot preserves.

Chocolate Doughnuts
Substitute chocolate-nut spread (such as Nutella brand) for
the apricot preserves.

Prune Doughnuts
Substitute prune butter (lekvar) for the apricot preserves.

Make Ahead
The doughnuts are best served the same day they are made.

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