Article

Berliners

Categories: Friday feeling

A special kind of doughnut from Artisan Foods

You can try and fight it, but the immutable laws of association dictate that if you are writing about doughnuts, you will sooner or later mention that speech made by that president. To do otherwise is like trying to write about marmalade without a nod to Paddington Bear. It’s just wrong.

So it is without shame and with a sense of inevitability that we inform you this week’s Friday feeling is not a citizen of Berlin, nor even John F Kennedy, but a baked good so popular it has its own commemorative day in America and a starring role in the Simpsons.

Of course, in Germany, a berliner is not always a berliner. Indeed, Berliners themselves know doughnuts as pfannkuchen. Uwe, the head baker at Artisan Foods, hails from Frankfurt, and calls them krapfen: “They are especially popular during Carnival season, which is on now in the city,” he says. “It’s very important there are lots of berliners at this time.”

Scene setting
All this is just scene setting, however. Your need-to-know is as follows: there are doughnuts filled with custard crème called berliners at Borough Market and eating them will quite simply make your day.

And everyone else’s day too, if you bring them back to the office: at three for £5, it would be rude not to. “Doughnuts here can be quite dry and hard, rather than fluffy and soft,” says Uwe, and it’s hard to disagree.

Unless you’re at Bread Ahead, the English equivalent of a berliner is more of an old bread roll than the immersive experience this marriage of rich, pillowy dough and cool, smooth vanilla custard will give you. “The dough is very different. It’s sweeter and heavier, because it is mainly eggs and butter, and we leave it to rest for a long time—almost three hours—in a warm room to grow up,” he continues. 

Enriching the dough
The free range eggs are from Ted’s Veg’s farm in Lincolnshire. The butter, too, is organic, enrichening the dough further still. “We fry it in peanut oil, not sunflower oil”—a key distinction, peanut oil having a higher smoke point than sunflower oil, thus making it better for doughnuts.

“It is far lighter and the taste is subtle, not oily,” Uwe continues. Needless to say, by the time the vanilla custard breaks through the soft folds of sweet dough and barely-there fried layer, Berlin and its people are a distant memory. You’re in heaven.