Berliner Donuts – Popular German Pastry

berliner donut

The Berliner Donuts are the most popular pastry in Germany and they are super popular before and around the carnival season (February/March).
Little Background:
Food that was fried in fat used to be enjoyed before the “Fastenzeit” (lent) which started Ash Wednesday and ended Easter Sunday, so 40 days but Sundays were exempted. This year in 2023 it’s starting on Feb 22. It was being said that eggs and fat could not be eaten during lent hence the different recipes such as Berliner with eggs and deep fried in fat before Ash Wednesday.
The German Tradition of Carnival:
As you probably know, Germany is the European center for this celebration. Before spring “Karneval”,  “Fasching” or “Fasnacht” will be celebrated in many regions of Germany in different ways. In Cologne, Bonn, Koblenz or Mainz  you can watch the biggest and most colorful parades, visit the most fun parties with singing and drinking. In other mainly Southern regions there are traditional Fasnacht Parades where all the local groups are participating.
fasnacht in the south swabia

The celebrations start on Thursday (“Schmutziger Donnerstag” in Swabia, or “Weiberdonnerstag” in the Rhineland) and last until Wednesday,  the Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch). A traditional carnival specialty is a pastry called “Berliner” or “Faschingskrapfen”; some call it also Pfannkuchen or Kreppel.  This delicious German doughnut has a jelly or jam filling, will  be deep fried in hot oil, dusted with sugar, and enjoyed preferably warm. Here is a recipe for you to make it at home. Happy Baking!

Ingredients Berliner Donuts

(makes about 20 Berliner)
Baking time: 35-50 Minutes
500 g flour, all purpose
1 package dried yeast
3 tbsp sugar
125 ml lukewarm milk
1 package vanilla sugar 0.3oz – How to make Vanilla Sugar –
1 dash salt
grated peel of 1/2 lemon (organic)
2 eggs
100 g butter

300 g jam (apricot, raspberry, strawberry, or red currant jelly)


– Flour for rolling the dough
– Oil for the deep fryer
– Powdered sugar

Baking Instructions Berliner Donuts

  • Warm milk, melt butter in milk.
  • Sieve flour into a bowl, mix very well with yeast.
  • Add all remaining ingredients  plus the milk-butter mix. With a hand mixer beat briefly on low level, then on high level beat for 5 min until dough is smooth. Use kneading hooks. You also can knead the dough with hands.
  • Cover the dough, let rise at a warm place until volume has doubled.
  • Meanwhile heat oil in deep fryer to 380 c or 350 F (test oil with a wooden spoon that you hold into the oil, if you see little bubbles along the spoon the oil is ready to use).
  • Dust dough a bit with flour, remove from bowl and knead again briefly.
  • Part the dough in 16-20 pieces of the same size. Roll every piece to a ball. Make sure the dough does not have any cracks.
  • Place balls on 2 kitchen cloths that are dusted with flour. Let rise again until size has visibly changed.
  • Deep fry the balls in small batches, 3-4 at a time. Place the balls with upper side downwards into the hot oil. Fry on both sides golden brown.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon, place each on kitchen paper.
  • Turn them in sugar when they are hot or dust with powdered sugar. Serve while they are still warm or let cool off on a grid.

german delicatessen box

Make the Filling

Squeeze jam through a sieve, fill into a frosting bag with a hole nozzle. In every Berliner inject the filling from the sides (the lighter edge in the middle).

There is another way to make them by cutting out rounds of 3 inches diameter out of the dough. Place on each rounds 1 tsp jam on only one side, and cover with another rounds. Make sure the ends all around are perfectly closed.

Here is a video that shows how the German bakery Gunter Weissbach in Stollberg (Erzgebirge) makes the Berliner


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One Comment on “Berliner Donuts – Popular German Pastry

  1. So excited to find a recipe which sounds like my Mom’s. She cut them in squares or triangles to represent Lent. Will try and pass onto my daughter.