Do you want to discover delicious donuts filled (or not), light and fluffy, as good as the ones you can find at the bakery or at your grandmother’s? Let me then introduce you to Berliner or Berliner pfannkuchen.
But before we talk about these Berliner, let’s talk about Chile! Do you know that with more than 2600 miles from north to south, it is the longest country in the world?
Chilean cuisine was born from the fusion between the Spanish and Mapuche tradition of the colonial period; it is also largely influenced by the conquistadores.
The Mapuches, literally “the people of the land”, are a group of aboriginal communities in the south-central area of Chile and Argentina, also known as Araucans. You will also find some influences from English and German cuisines.
Some of the most traditional dishes include:
– Cazuela, a soup with pieces of meat and vegetables, including potato, corn, or pumpkin,
– Charquican, a stew made from potatoes, green beans, corn, coca leaves, and horse meat,
– Empanada, a small turnover stuffed with meat, fish, egg, potato or other ingredients, that may vary depending on the customs of each region of Latin America or Spain,
– Ceviche, a dish found throughout Latin America that is based on raw fish, marinated in lemon juice, and other condiments,
– Chupe de mariscos, a traditional seafood stew also popular in Peru,
– Pastel de choclo, a traditional Argentinean, Chilean and Peruvian dish made from ground corn (choclo) and basil,
– Curanto, a dish of mussels, cockles, sausages, bacon, chicken, with chapalele, which are potatoes and other ingredients cooked on the ground on stones heated under large leaves (for the version al hoyo) or in a pot (for the version in olla).
And Chilean cuisine would not be Chilean cuisine without bread! The marraqueta, the dobladita, the pan amasado, the hallulla, which can be served with an excellent pebre salsa or used for delicious sandwiches like the chacarero.
What are berliner?
Berliner, which we are featuring today, are one of the most famous pastries in Chile.
The origin of Berliner is obviously German. These delicious filled donuts arrived to Chile with the German immigration to the Americas. You will find Berliner in many Latin American countries. Depending on the country where the Germans settled, the Berliner adopted a different name.
In Germany, the full name of this donut of Austro-German origin, is Berliner pfannkuchen, which literally means “pancake cake from Berlin”. However, it is more commonly known as “Berliner”.
But they have so many different names in Spain, Austria and around the world.
Over time, this donut has been renamed countless times. Depending on the region, it is known as:
– Berliner ballen in Germany
– Kräppel in Hesse, Germany,
– Küchli in Swabia in Bavaria,
– Pfannkuchen in Berlin,
– Bachenemais in Salzburg in Austria,
– Krapfen in Austria,
– Boule de l’Yser in Belgium,
– Boule de Berlin in France,
– Fánk in Hungary,
– Bola de Berlim in Portugal,
– Berliininmunkki in Finland,
– Sufganya (סופגניה) in Israel,
– Kobliha in the Czech Republic,
– Šiška in Slovakia,
– Ponichki (понички) in Bulgaria,
– Berlinesas in Mexico,
– Cremitas or Berlinesas in Costa Rica,
– Bolleros in Paraguay,
– Bombas in Venezuela, and Pavitas in the Venezuelan state of Lara,
– Berlinerbolle in Norway,
– Bola of fraile in Argentina,
– Bismark in Canada and parts of the United States of America,
– Pączek in Poland.
– Kitchener in Australia,
– Berlina in Spain
– Faschingskrapfen, literally “carnival krapfen”, because it is produced and consumed especially during the carnival period in the province of Bolzano, Italy.
All the above-mentioned donuts have exactly the same origin, that of the Austro-German “Berliner pfannkuchen”.
Surprisingly, everywhere in Germany, this Berliner is called colloquially Berliner except … in Berlin! Where it is called simply Fannkuchen.
It is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve and Carnival.
In Germany, a tradition supposed to be “very funny” on New Year’s Eve is to make a ball filled with mustard and mix it with other Berliner filled with jam or other traditional ingredient, and wait for someone to bite in it!
What is the origin of Berliner?
The most likely origin of Berliner dates back to the 18th century. A popular legend about the Berliner pfannkuchen, dating from 1756, mentions that a pastry chef from Berlin who wanted to serve King Frederick II of Prussia, also known as Frederick the Great Third King of Prussia, was recognized as unfit for service because of health problems. King Frederick then hired him as pastry chef for the regiment, allowing him to stay and be part of it. To thank him, the pastry chef invented a small donut giving it the shape of a cannonball in honor of the king. As he did not have an oven in the open air, he fried them in saucepans filled with lard, hence the name pfannkuchen. Pfannkuchen in Germany is also the name of a frying pan.
How to make Berliner
The authentic recipe of Berliner uses essential ingredients: flour, baking powder, milk, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, salt, lard (but butter is now used in Germany and Austria), and jam filling. However, there are variants filled with cream, chocolate or raspberry jam.
In Chile, and generally in Latin America, they are filled with manjar (preparation of dulce de leche), crema pastelera (pastry cream) or plum jam.
I personally chose to fill them with pastry cream.
- 2½ cups flour , sifted
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm milk
- 1 pinch salt
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 medium egg
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- Icing sugar (to sprinkle)
- 2 cups whole milk (at 95 F / 36 C)
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ cup caster sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 knob butter (to dab the surface)
- A few hours before, start by preparing the pastry cream.
- Mix the cornstarch and the flour and sift them.
- Heat the milk and the split vanilla bean. Bring to a boil turn off the heat.
In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the yolks and sugar until the mixture is white.
- Add the flour and cornstarch mixture gradually using a whisk. The mixture obtained should be homogeneous and smooth.
- Whisk the mixture with half of the milk, without lathering.
The mixture should be smooth and without too many bubbles.
- Pour the resulting mixture into the saucepan containing the rest of the milk and bring to a low heat, whisking constantly. When the cream is thickened, stop cooking.
- Dab the surface of the cream with a knob of butter to prevent the formation of a "skin" while cooling.
- Cover with plastic wrap (by having the plastic wrap touch the cream) and reserve in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.
Cut out about 20 4-inch (10 cm) squares of parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour and active dry yeast.
- Add the warm milk gradually and knead for 1 minute.
- Stir in the lemon zest, sugar, salt and egg.
- Knead for 15 minutes at medium speed until the dough detaches from the sides of the bowl.
- Then add half of the butter at a time, while kneading for 5 minutes, at medium speed, until it is well incorporated.
- Cover with a cloth and let it rise for 2 hours, away from drafts.
- Flour the work surface.
Take the dough out of the bowl and divide it into about 20 pieces of about 2 oz (60 g) each.
- Form balls and flatten them slightly with a rolling pin (the dough should be smooth).
- Drop them as you go on the squares of parchment paper (1 piece of dough per square).
- Cover them with a cloth and let them rise again for 30 minutes, away from drafts.
In a large pan, heat a large amount of vegetable oil to a temperature of about 330 F / 170 C, and plunge the donuts, 3 at a time. The temperature of the oil should not rise above 340 F / 170 C.
- Use the parchment paper to slide them in the hot oil, this technique helps to keep their shape.
- Fry about 40 seconds on each side.
- Drain the donuts in a colander. Let cool.
Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and beat vigorously. If it is too stiff, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of warm milk.
- Pour the pastry cream in a piping bag with a fluted socket.
- Cut the donuts in half and garnish with the pastry cream.
Sprinkle icing sugar before serving.