eat in my kitchen

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Loukoumades – Greek Doughnuts with Honey, Cinnamon and Pistachios

Loukoumades

Every year at carnival, my family meets at my mother’s house to make Berliner, a jam filled doughnut dusted with cinnamon sugar. It’s a heavenly ball of sweet sponginess so tempting that all of us end up eating far more than we should. We all have our favourite filling, so we use a selection of blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and red currant jam. The only problem is, once they are cooked, you can’t really see the difference anymore. So we guess blindly and exchange Berliner across the table when we pick the wrong one. It’s quite a funny scene! You could also use chocolate, gianduja or eggnog to customize them to your personal taste and come up with your own perfect creation. Unfortunately, after this culinary experience, you might never be satisfied with store-bought doughnuts ever again! It’s already been a year since I shared our traditional Berliner recipe, and next week, it will be that time of year again, we’ll all meet in my mother’s kitchen in the countryside to celebrate our silly little family feast!

Although I’m not the biggest fan of deep-fried sweets, at carnival I love them. They belong to this season like spooky costumes and exuberant music. In Cologne, where I went to university, I used to buy Muzen from a little bakery. They look like tiny diamond shaped doughnuts, crisp on the outside with a spongy centre. It’s a local speciality only made at this time of the year. They are so good, I could eat them by the dozen! In Berlin, Berliner are called Pfannkuchen (meaning pancakes in German) and they are often filled with plum jam. There are many other names all over the world, Krapfen, Fastnachtküchle, Krof in Slovenia or Pączki in Poland, all customized after the regional preferences.

After some research, I discovered something new, Greek doughnuts called Loukoumades! I called my sister as her husband is half Greek and they often spend their summers in Greece. Nina got very excited about this sweet and told me that they savoured it all the time during their last holiday on the island of Thassos. Her husband would play Bouzouki in a mountain village in the evenings with his friends while my sister enjoyed plates of Loukoumades, with lots of honey and cinnamon. After her colourful description, my decision was made, I had to try them! The next morning I made an orange flavoured yeast dough, a bit softer and with more yeast than my usual recipe. You have to scoop out the little Loukoumades with a spoon and cook them in hot fat. It only took a few minutes and I had a plate full of golden doughnuts in front of me, coated voluptuously with orange-honey syrup and sprinkled with chopped pistachios and a bit of cinnamon. It was amazing, I know I can trust my sister when it comes to sweet treats!

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

Loukoumades with Honey, Cinnamon and Pistachios

For 24 small Loukoumades you need

plain flour 400g / 14 ounces
dry yeast 2 sachets (each 7g / 1/4 ounce)
sugar 1 tablespoon
salt 1 teaspoon
milk, lukewarm, 150ml / 5 ounces
water, lukewarm, 125ml / 4.5 ounces
orange zest 1 heaped teaspoon
honey 1 tablespoon
pistachios, unsalted, chopped, 60g / 2 ounces
cinnamon, for serving
vegetable shortening for deep-frying 1kg / 2 1/4 pounds

For the syrup
good quality honey (liquid) 150g / 5.5 ounces
freshly squeezed orange juice 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces
sugar 1 tablespoon
orange zest 1 teaspoon

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the milk, water, honey and zest to the mixture and mix with the dough hooks of your mixer for about 5 minutes. The dough should be elastic and come off the sides of the bowl, it will be a little sticky so don’t mix with your hands. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rise in the warm oven (35°C / 95°F) for 45 minutes (top/ bottom heat and not fan-assisted!).

For the syrup, bring the honey, orange juice and sugar to the boil and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until it’s a thick syrup. Stir in the zest and keep warm.

In a large pot, heat the vegetable shortening. Check the temperature with a wooden spoon, it’s hot enough when little bubbles form around it. Scoop out a small walnut sized ball off the dough (this works best with 2 tablespoons) and carefully drop it into the hot fat. Start off with one ball, the Loukoumades should cook for 3-4 minutes to turn into golden balls. If they become too dark after a shorter cooking time, turn down the temperature (which is what I had to do after the first batch), they will need at least 3 minutes for the centre to cook through. They should be golden and not dark brown. Take them out with a slotted ladle and put them on a kitchen paper to remove excess fat. Serve with the warm syrup, chopped pistachios and a little cinnamon.

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades10

 

Loukoumades12

A Sweet Berliner – Our Family Feast

Berliner

A long time ago, my family started a beautiful tradition. All my sisters, their children and friends of the family meet at my mother’s house in the countryside to celebrate carnival. We listen to silly carnival music, the children dress up in funny costumes and we make huge amounts of a special traditional carnival pastry – the famous “Berliner”. When the sweets are done, we fill them in my mother’s large white bowls from Tuscany, place them on her long table and enjoy the fruits of our work, which usually goes on for hours. In general, I can’t say that I’m too fond of the 5th season (the name given to carnival time in Germany) but the mood and the food at my mother’s home makes me love it!

The sweet speciality we make looks a bit like a doughnut without a hole, it’s made of yeast dough, filled with jam and deep fried in vegetable shortening. It has different names in different regions but where I come from, which is the center of carnival in West Germany, they are called “Berliners”. Funnily enough, they are called “Pfannkuchen” in Berlin, which means pancakes. In the Swabian area in the South of Germany where my step father comes from, people call them “Fastnachtskuechle”. I could continue endlessly with even more names “Krapfen”, “Kreppel”, seemingly every region wanted to give them a name of their own.

So we all gather in my mother’s kitchen and each of us has a specific job to do in the making of our “Berliners” – which never changes. For years now, my job is to watch the sweets together with my step father while we fry them in a large cast iron pot. We have to turn them and dust them with sugar when they are done. My mother and sisters, on the other side of the kitchen, take care of the dough and filling the “Berliners”. On my photos you can also see some free shaped sweets which are the bits and pieces of dough that are left after cutting out circles.

Carnival is still a month away (and I’m also not at my mother’s house at the moment) but there is a reason I made my own “Berliners” at my home now. I was asked to participate in a blog tour with 13 other blogs from America and Australia and write about “Hearts At Home”. My heart is always where good food is and that’s at my home most of the time but also at carnival at my mother’s together with my family. Our tradition, to meet at this time and to make this special food means a lot to me. I look forward to seeing my loved ones and spend a few wonderful, silly days together with them. That’s where my heart is and that’s home to me. Making “Berliners” without my family was still a fun experience. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t manage on my own but I did, and even more so it was surprisingly easy which makes me think about having this adventure more than just once a year! Below you can find all the other great blogs who wrote about their own personal view on “Hearts At Home”.

Berliner

 

Berliner

Blueberry Jam Filled Berliner

I made 12 jam filled “Berliners” plus several free shaped sweets (without filling), all in all of 500g / 1 pound of flour. I melted 1kg / 2 pounds of vegetable shortening for deep frying in a large pot, enough to allow the sweets to float freely. My mother uses a much bigger pot and 3kg / 6 pounds of shortening but she starts off with 3kg / 6 pounds of flour as she has to feed more hungry people than I did.

plain flour 500g / 1 pound
dry yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
sugar 3 tablespoons
vanilla sugar 1 package
salt scant 1 teaspoon
milk, lukewarm, 250ml
butter, melted and cooled down, 80g / 3 ounces
blueberry jam, around 200g / 7 ounces for filling
egg white, mixed with a fork, 1-2 to stick the discs of dough together
vegetable shortening 1kg / 2 pounds for frying

For dusting
50g / 2 ounces of icing sugar sieved together  with 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Combine the dry ingredients, add the milk and butter and mix with your dough hooks for 5 minutes. Continue kneading and punching with your hands until you have an elastic dough ball. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven (top / bottom heat) for about an hour.

When the dough has doubled in size, take it out, punch it down and knead with your hands for 2 minutes. On a floured working surface, roll the dough out in batches and cut out 10cm / 4″ circles (I used an old tea cup from my grandmother). Put the bits and pieces of dough which are between the circles aside as you will fry them as well (without filling).

Heat the shortening in a large pot on highest temperature.

Take one disc of dough, drop a teaspoon of jam in the middle and brush the edge with egg white. Put a second disc on top, sealing well by pushing with your fingers along the outline twice to make sure that they won’t open in the hot fat.

To check the temperature of the fat, put a piece of dough inside, carefully as it’s very hot! Turn it with wooden spatulas or spoons, it should be done within a few seconds. The “Berliners” might take a few seconds longer. They will become a bit dark, that’s normal, but they shouldn’t burn, so adjust the temperature if necessary. Keep in mind that if it’s too low the inside won’t cook through. I always cut the first “Berliner” in half when I think it’s done to see if I have to change the setting.

When you take them out, let them cool for a few seconds before you dust them with your cinnamon icing sugar.

Berliner

The “Hearts At Home” Blog Tour

Shabby Art Boutique
At The Picket Fence
My Soulful Home
Town & Country Living
Bright Bold & Beautiful
Vintage Farmhouse
White Lace Cottage
Stone Gable
On Sutton Place
Lilacs & Longhorns
French Country Cottage
Eat In My Kitchen
Top This Top That
Emily A. Clark 

Berliner

 

Berliner

 

Berliner

 

Berliner

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