Austria’s main spring holiday is “Fasching”, a week of fun festivities, dressing up, and strange wooden masks. But Fasching is known for one other thing: doughnuts, or “Krapfen” in German. For a few weeks in February, Innsbruck’s bakeries go crazy over these delicious, apricot jam-filled delicacies, which is great for your taste buds (although not for your waistline!).
Let’s find out more about this strange but tasty tradition and discover how you can make your own Faschingskrapfen at home.
A Short History Of Faschingskrapfen
So how did Krapfen become THE food of Fasching? Fasching takes place in the week leading up to Lent—the 40 days before Easter when Christians traditionally fast. To prepare for the fasting period, people in the Middle Ages tried to eat fatty food, to make sure their fat stores were completely full before the fasting started.
That’s where the Krapfen comes in. With its high-fat content and sugary goodness, Krapfen are the ideal way to boost your calorie intake. What’s more, they are made out of everyday ingredients like flour, milk and eggs, which even the poorest Austrians were able to afford. This made Krapfen easy for everyone to make, and their popularity soon spread.
Nowadays, people don’t fast during Lent quite like they did in the Middle Ages. But the Krapfen is still seen as the culinary symbol of Fasching – lucky us!
The Best Faschingskrapfen In Innsbruck
Innsbruck is home to many great bakeries and in February, their windows are full of delicious, fluffy Krapfen. Which one has the best Krapfen? Here are three contenders, try them all and decide for yourself.
Innsbruck’s biggest bakery chain is famous for their Krapfen, and if you want variety, this is the place to come! Not content with just the traditional apricot jam, Krapfen at the Bäcker Ruetz come in many different varieties such as vanilla, Nutella and even roasted apple. The bakery is also known for their annual “4+1 free” offer, where you get a free Krapfen for every four you buy.
Moschen is one of Innsbruck’s hidden highlights. This little bakery puts a real focus on traditional ingredients and methods, and their Krapfen are no exception. Crisp on the outside but beautifully fluffy on the inside, a Moschen Krapfen literally melts in your mouth and is a great way to welcome the spring.
As one of Innsbruck’s most renowned patisseries (and its oldest coffee house), you would expect Café Munding to have great Krapfen. And great they are indeed. The dough is light, the flavour is good but the highlight is the apricot jam. Munding’s apricot jam literally tastes like it has come straight from your grandma’s kitchen and packs such a punch that you’ll be coming back for more.
How to make Faschingskrapfen yourself at home
Want to try making Krapfen for yourself? Well, the good news is that it’s not that hard to do! Here is an easy Krapfen recipe to get you started.
250ml lukewarm milk
70g butter (cut into cubes)
500g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
2 drops vanilla essence
½ teaspoon salt
20g fresh yeast
3 egg yolks
700ml oil for deep-fat frying (sunflower oil is traditionally used)
400g apricot jam
Icing sugar for dusting
1) Heat the milk and butter in a pan. While it’s heating, mix the flour, sugar, vanilla essence and salt in a bowl.
2) Crumble the fresh yeast into the bowl and pour the milk and butter mixture over the top.
3) Add the egg yolks and knead everything into a smooth dough. This should take around 5 minutes.
4) Cover with a fresh tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
5) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes.
6) Divide the dough into 12 balls and place them on a tray, leaving a gap between each one. Cover again with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
7) Heat the oil in a saucepan. It should be so hot that bubbles form on a wooden spoon if you dip it into the oil. Obviously, be very careful when handling pans of hot oil!
8) Carefully lower the dough balls into the oil and reduce the heat. Cook the balls for about 3 minutes on each side. You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan.
9) Lift the Krapfen out of the pan using a slotted spoon and place them on a piece on kitchen towel to dry.
10) Pour the apricot jam into a piping bag with a thin nozzle (7mm is ideal). Squirt the jam into the middle of each Krapfen and dust with icing sugar.
11) Enjoy the delicious taste of Austrian Krapfen!