A scrumptious cake with a soft, creamy heart – the Krapfen is a pastry that evokes emotions. History has it that in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century, it was customary for a man to declare his love for a woman by inviting her to share this delectable cake. By accepting the cake, the woman would also officially accept her courter’s proposal of engagement.
Krapfen is a cake of Austro-German origin tht is made of yeast dough, which is then fried in oil, or in what is called fett in German – literally in fat. Known around most parts of Germany mainly as “Berliner“, in the Rhineland this melt-in-your-mouth delight is referred to as “Kreppel” instead. The origin of its name is uncertain, according to some it comes from the old German “krafo,” or pancake, according to others it is attributable to Cäcilie Krapf, a skilled Austrian confectioner from whose hands this round leavened cake was born – presumably first made for the Congress of Vienna in 1815. On that occasion, more than ten million of these pastries were consumed in the Austrian capital.
Here is the recipe of krapfen filled with custard as create by Master Iginio Massari.
Put the brewer’s yeast in the milk at 26°C-30°C and dissolve it with a whisk or a mixer. Add a little sugar to start fermentation, then let it rest for half an hour. Proceed by putting all the ingredients into a planetary mixer, taking care to set aside 60g of eggs. Mix first for five minutes at medium speed, then for another five minutes at high speed. Add the 60g of eggs and mix until the dough is elastic and dry.
Now leave the dough to rest for about two hours in a bowl allowing it to double in size. Keep the temperature at 24°. The dough should not stick to your hands and should be soft. Roll out the dough and use a pastry bag to cut out small balls weighing 35-40g each. Work them with your hands, pressing them together. Cover the balls with a cloth or cling film and leave to rise again for 1½ hours.
Then fry the doughnuts in hot oil. It is important to maintain a constant temperature of between 170°C–180°C and immerse them fully until they are golden brown, about a couple of minutes per side. Drain on absorbent paper so as to lose the excess oil. Fill to taste with custard, chocolate custard, or jam, and dust the krapfen with icing sugar.