When I think of German food I think of Eisbein, Sauerkraut, Schnitzel and Sausages (None of which I’m a fan of – sorry to my German friends!). While perusing trusty Google, particularly looking at desserts, I came across something called a Fastnachtskrapfen, which basically looked like a doughnut. Yum. What I then discovered, while looking for recipes, is that these bad guys are generally made on Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday as I mentioned it’s called in Poland) to use up all the ingredients in the house before Lent begins. It was just PERFECT then that German week coincided with Shrove Tuesday, and I was having people over for pancakes, and therefore I decided it was meant to be!
I asked some of my German friends for any family recipes for Fastnachtskrapen. None of them had even heard of it but luckily Ursula’s mother found a recipe for me in one of her cook books – and here they were called ‘Berliner Pfannkuchens’ (which when consulting Google I discovered is exactly the same thing!) The recipe from the book was in German, which she so kindly translated for me.
The book is called ‘Backen mit Lust & Liebe’ which, according to Ursch, is translated to ‘Baking with Desire and Love’ (not age restricted!)
I decided to halve the recipe because we were already having pancakes and didn’t want to overdo the treats. The first part of the process worked excellently. I did add more milk than mentioned initially because the mixture didn’t seem to combine well. (I ended up adding all the milk – 125ml instead of just a little). Anyway, after the 30/40 minutes it had risen beautifully so I started on the next step – adding the remaining ingredients. And this is where I would have been eliminated from Masterchef. Instead of adding half of what I was supposed to (ie only 40g butter, and only 1 egg) I added the whole amount, and was left with a runny, non doughy mixture. This is of course where my heart sank. My dad will likely laugh at me because we used to sit for HOURS when I was in primary (and high) school trying to work out fractions. I just CANNOT do it. Even with a calculator, it just blows my mind! So the sad part about this is that the halves etc were incredibly easy, but I just didn’t think.
I decided there were only two options. Either I scrap the whole thing and start over, or I add the first ingredients again to essentially make a whole recipe. I went with the latter. Now I honestly have no idea how yeast works etc, so I don’t know the science behind what this decision would do to my dish (I still stand firm that I should have taken Home Economics at school instead of Science). Anyway, I just did it – there was no time to consult my friend Google or Nigella Lawson.
After the next designated 40 minutes I arrived at my dough to find that had I been a minute later it would have been spilling onto the floor ‘Gummi Bears making taffy‘ style. I took this as a brilliant sign, although should have learnt from my friendly bears (I’ll explain in a bit).
I excitedly rolled out the dough, cut it using a glass into approximately 7cm diameter pieces, and before I could even get the jam out of the fridge they had started rising again. What was a flat round disc was a mattress for a mouse (and a comfy one at that!). I didn’t really know what to do, and again, I was running out of time, so I just carried on as usual. I put jam on one piece, and then another one on top. Because they were so fluffy they didn’t want to close, so I ended up having to squash them into balls of dough every few minutes to keep them small enough to fit into my pot! They just continued to grow!
As I’ve said before I don’t own a deep fryer. I tested out on of the Berliners in shallow-ish oil, turning it over to brown the one side. It didn’t work too badly but I undercooked it. I knew for the ones later I would need to leave them in for longer, but also that more oil was required. So I poured the whole bottle in. The next lot that I made burnt to a cinder – oil was too hot. The next three were absolutely PERFECT. They looked beautiful, and apparently tasted delicious (I didn’t get a chance to try those ones). The last batch of three weren’t undercooked, but slightly saturated in oil – the oil had cooled too much by then and so they didn’t cook as well as the batch before. They were still eaten though, and I did get a taste – really delicious actually.
There is a LOT I would do differently. I would obviously not royally bugger up the process at the beginning. I would make them with a deep fryer rather to control the heat of the oil, and I would make them smaller – almost like little doughnut balls. I would add more jam, and I would make them when I’m not under time pressure to serve guests – that definitely added to some of the stress and lack of attention. I would make them again though! Without a doubt. They were delicious. A combination of a doughnut and a vetkoek. Delicious.
This week was also exciting because somebody else joined in on the challenge. Paul was in the German spirit of the evening and for his Pancake toppings brought Flammkuchen. He says that traditionally it would be served on the German equivalent of a pizza, but any carb would suffice (like our pancakes). He’s not sure of too much history, but thinks Flammkuchen comes from the Munich area – I’ll take his word for it!
His recipe for Flammkuchen can be found at the following link: