Fasching is the German version of Carnivale or Mardi Gras. Fasching is a week of splendid masquerade balls and extravagant food and drink.
Not at all surprising is that this bacchanal leads up to the spiritual deprivation that is Lent, so why not binge like you mean it? And the food I think about when all bets are off, when I'm staring down the reality of my last sugar-and-fat-laden hurrah before I repent? Donuts. More specifically Krapfen, the official guilty pleasure of the Fasching season.
They are extra special because they are traditionally filled to the rim with glorious jam filling! I prefer apricot, but it's your kitchen, so choose a filling of pastry cream laced with melted bittersweet chocolate if you like. And for parties, I like to tip my hat to the genius of the French croquembouche, that tower of cream puffs, and build a Krapfen tower.
Makes 20 Krapfen
FOR THE SPONGE:
¾ cup (180 ml) warm whole milk
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
pinch granulated sugar
1¼ cups (175 g) bread flour
FOR THE DOUGH:
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
¼ cup (60 ml) warm whole milk
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup (65 g) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, very soft
2 cups (280 g) bread flour
FOR THE ASSEMBLY:
vegetable oil (enough to fill a stockpot 4 inches / 10 cm deep for frying)
1 cup (240 ml) apricot jam (or the jam or filling of your choice) confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Make the sponge:
Place the warm milk (not hot-you don't want to kill the yeast) in a small bowl and sprinkle with the yeast and granulated sugar. Let sit undisturbed 3 to 5 minutes to bloom the yeast (blooming is the term for letting the yeast become active and bubbly in a liquid).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the yeast mixture and flour and mix until smooth. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow the sponge to rise at room temperature. Proceed to the dough stage just as the sponge starts to fall, which takes about 1 hour.
Make the dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and allow to bloom. Add the sponge and mix at low speed.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and granulated sugar. Add to the sponge mixture. Add the butter, small pieces at a time, mixing until incorporated. Slowly add the flour and mix until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, 15 to 20 minutes.
Spray the dough with a light coating of nonstick baking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
Divide the dough in half. Roll each piece into a rope and cut each into 10 shorter ropes. Roll each rope into a tight round bun, using no flour on your surface (to avoid flour burning in the hot oil). Place the buns on a parchment-lined sheet pan and allow them to rise in a warm place until slightly less than doubled in volume. Place a moist dish towel over the buns while they're resting to prevent them from developing dry skins.
Add at least 4 inches (10 cm) of vegetable oil to a large stockpot and heat to 360°F (180°C).
Add the Krapfen to the oil, one at a time, gently placing them in the oil seam side up. Six per batch is usually the perfect amount. Allow to brown for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip the Krapfen and cook the other side for 3 to 4 minutes, until brown. Transfer the Krapfen to a cooling rack or a paper towel-lined sheet pan to allow oil to drain off and the Krapfen to dry. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Fit a pastry bag with an open tip (large enough to allow jam to flow freely but small enough not to create a huge hole) and fill with the jam or filling of your choice. Insert the pastry tip into the Krapfen and gently fill.
Sift confectioners' sugar on top of your Krapfen. Serve immediately.
Bake It Like You Mean It, Published by Stewart Tabori & Chang, Photography by Tina Rupp, £18.99; www.amazon.co.uk