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Krepfelin

Period Donuts!

by THL Johann Wolfgang von Hesse

This fascinating recipe comes from the 14th century German cookbook, Ein Buch von Guter Spise published in 1345. I used a network copy provided by Alia Atlas c1993 and 1995, which is available on the WWW at http://www.medievalcookery.com/etexts/buch.html. This work was based upon a transcription published in 1844, the original manuscript was part of a household manual which Michael de Leone, the proto-notary of the Bishop of Wurzburg, had organized. The original is in the university library of Munich. The manuscript was dated between 1345 and 1354, and contains 101 recipes. The recipe used to create this dish was #44:

44. Ein gut gebackenz

Rib kese. menge den mit eyern und scharbe gesoten spec dar zu. mache ein schoenen derben teyc . und fulle den kese und die eyer dor in. und mache krepfelin. und backe sie in butern oder in smaltze. noch der zit. und gib sie warm hin.

Grate cheese. Mix it with eggs and boiled small pieces of fatty bacon thereto. Make a fine dough (possibly freshly made as opposed to sourdough) and fill therein with the cheese and the eggs. And make krepfelin and bake them in butter or in fat, near to the time (they are to be served), and give them out warm.

This particular recipe brings back lots of warm memories for me, as Krepfel are a pastry that my German grandmother used to make for me as a child. This recipe uses a egg and cheese filling whereas the grandmother would make Krepfel with a marmalade filling much like a modern donut. Alia gives a redaction for this recipe which she calls a "Cheese and Bacon Pasty" which she bakes on a sheet in the oven. I simply disagree with this redaction based upon the specific wording of the recipe above "cund backe sie in butern oder smaltze" which translates to "bake them in butter or lard" which clearly indicates frying the krepfelin rather than baking them. Add to this the fact that my grandmother's grandmother had been making the same basic recipe by the same name by deep-frying the krepfel, I believe that a fundamental aspect of krepfel(in) is their being deep-fried in fat.

The Redaction

The redaction I used for this recipe is based upon recipes for Krapfen & Krepfel that I found in modern German cookbooks and that use a yeast-dough that has eggs added to it. As I am basically a lazy cook, I adapted the amounts of the recipe so that he dough could be prepared by an electronic kitchen drudge (a bread-maker), making the recipe simple and easy to prepare. (Obviously this same recipe can be prepared without the breadmaker, but that almost seems like work!)

Krepfelin Dough

Directions

Put all ingredients into bread machine set for manual cycle (with all of the liquid components slightly above room temperature). Allow the machine to process the dough normally and remove it when its done.

Once the dough is ready (the rising cycle is finished, or you have allowed the dough to rise twice and punched it down) roll it out flat and cut it into 3" circles. If you want to fill the Krepfelin after cooking (i.e. with a cake decorator) then roll the dough out into 1/2" thickness and cut a single circle. If you want to sandwich a filling between two circles (like the cheese & bacon filling above) then roll it out to 1/4" thickness. To join the two circles, wet the edges with water and dump a small amount of filling in the center before joining the two halves and pinching them shut.

Place the circles on a cloth covered cookie sheet and allow the dough to rise a final time until it has doubled in size (approx 20-40 min in a warm place).
Note: Some fillings like the bacon cheese mixture noted above are baked into the krepfel, others like the marmalade I mentioned are put into the krepfel after they have been baked with a cake decorator bag.

While the krepfel are rising, prepare your deep fryer (I use an electric wok) with vegetable oil (or if you prefer the more authentic taste along with the cholesterol, use lard) and set the temperature to 350-375° F. Set aside a good amount of space covered with paper bags or paper towels to soak up oil from the freshly fried krepfel and grab a slotted ladle. Now you're ready to go!

Place the krepfel into the ladle and gently lower them into the oil, cook them to a nice even dark brown before turning them over to allow the other side to cook. Remove them with the ladle, allowing extra oil to drain off before placing them on the paper towels to soak up the rest of the oil. Allow them to cool but serve them while they are still warm.
NOTE: If you are filling them with a sweet substance like marmalade, you can coat them with powdered sugar, or for my grandmothers personal touch, roll them while they are still hot in granulated sugar and then fill them with the jelly of your choice!

Effectively, Krepfelin are filled donuts similar to what you might buy at your local donut shop. They can be served with a sweet filling or with a meat and cheese filling. Some of the more exotic fillings were fish and even eels during period, but I'm afraid that might not appeal to modern palates. I have not found any evidence of Krepfelin or Krapfen sprinkled with sugar the way I have suggested. However, Ein Buch von Gute Spise does contain a number of recipes in which they do sprinkle sugar on top of the food, and since this is a long established tradition within my German family, it is reasonable to assume they did this in some locals as well.