Mardi Gras or carnival is starting soon in Germany and one thing, above dressing up, is necessary to celebrate: bismarcks, or as we say in German “Berliner” or “Pfannenkuchen”. There are several terms for the same thing: a doughnut filled with jam.
When Kennedy said “Ick bin ein Berliner.” he probably meant to solidarize with the people of Berlin. But he could have easily meant the delicious doughnut as well.
I am teaching for a German school and they will celebrate carnival at the end of the month. So, I thought it would be only appropriate to make some bismarck doughnuts. It’s a yeast dough and should be too difficult.
Since I wanted to make sure I have puffy doughnuts I, for the first time, used fresh yeast. I have to say, it was impressive.
– 500g flour
– 40g fresh yeast or about 20g of dry active yeast
– 250ml milk
– 3 egg yolk
– 100g butter, unsalted
– 50g sugar
– 2 tbsp. rum (optional)
– 1/2 tsp. vanilla
– pinch of salt
– some lemon zest
– red or yellow jam, no seeds- oil, flavourless
Crumble the fresh yeast, slightly heat half the milk and combine. Let it sit for a moment so the yeast can activate. Measure all other ingredients and separate the egg before you continue.
Tip: I suggest you use a kitchen machine to do the kneading. You are able to add the ingredients and adjust the liquid if needed and the machine usually kneads a more uniform dough.
Add the flour to the bowl, make a dent and add the milk-yeast mix, then mix in some of the flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in warm spot for 10 min. Then add the melted butter and ingredients, which should be all room temperature. Let the machine knead a soft, uniform dough. You might have to add a bit more milk.
When the dough comes of the sides of the bowl it is read. Grease another bowl, place the dough in it and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour.
Dust your working area and get out the rolling pin. Make sure it’s not too heavy so you do not deflate the dough. Turn the dough over onto the working area and roll it out, about finger high. Using a glass, cut out equal amounts of circles.
Place one circle with the up side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Then add a spoonful of jam, wet the edge with water and place another circle on top, slightly pressing the edges together. Cover with plastic wrap again and let it rise for another 15 to 20 min.
Heat the oil and test with a wooden spoon’s end if it’s hot enough. If you see bubbles on the wooden spoon you are good to go. Carefully place one bismarck into the hot oil using a slipper, count to 5, flip over, count to 5 again and remove from the oil onto a plate lined with kitchen towel to soak off the extra oil.
The bismarck should have a light brown colour. Repeat the procedure until all bismarcks are baked. Be sure to be careful, the hot oil can burn skin easily.
Once the bismarcks are cooled of, plate them onto a nice plate and dust with icing sugar or use a icing glaze. Bismarcks are typically served with only white icing or dusted.