When in Berlin, have a Berliner? Or make a vegan one? Yep, I’ll take the bait.
I’ve just moved to Berlin for who-knows-how-long, and I thought I’d celebrate the occasion by trying my hand at veganising the city’s traditional pastry. It’s very similar to a doughnut: a light, sweet dough that’s fried until it puffs up, then filled with jam and covered with sugar.
My first try was an adaption of this recipe: I used soya milk instead of cow’s milk, aquafaba and turmeric instead of egg yolks, and vegan margarine instead of butter. It worked, but it wasn’t quite right: mixing the yeast straight in with all the other ingredients resulted in a heavier dough (since the yeast wasn’t well-activated); the vegan butter didn’t really mix in properly, and the dough was too moist (I had to add extra flour). So I took inspiration from this recipe, which made a lot more sense: the butter is melted and mixed with the milk, then the sugar and yeast is added to the mix, and it foams up beautifully!
The second attempt resulted in a beautiful crumb, but unfortunately I did the second rise in the oven at 40ºC which was too warm: they deflated when they came out, and didn’t fry well. So on my third attempt, I will do the second rise at room temperature, and buy a thermometer for the oil!
So: please be aware that this recipe is a work in progress. I’m 80% sure that the way it’s described below should work, but I need to try it out again. If you’re willing to test it, let me know!
Oh and if you want to be a German brat, fill one of the pastries with mustard instead of jam, and give it to someone you don’t like 😬
- 1/2 cup warm plant milk
- 1 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp aquafaba (replacing 2 egg yolks)
- 4 tbsp vegan butter room temperature
Sugar Coating & Filling
- 1 cup sugar you won't use it all
- 1/3 cup jam any kind
- In a small saucepan, melt the vegan butter over medium heat, then add the plant milk.
- Mix in the sugar, then check the temperature (it should be warm, but not hot: i.e. dip your pinky finger in it, it should not be uncomfortable).
- Sprinkle in the yeast, and let it sit for 5 minutes until frothy.
- Add the flour to a medium-sized bowl, then add the yeast mixture, aquafaba, vanilla, and salt.
- Mix until combined, then knead for 5 minutes by hand, or 2-3 minutes with a dough mixer (I used a food processor with a dough blade).
- Place in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel, and leave to rise for one hour (it should double in size).
- Tip out onto a flat surface that's lightly dusted with flour, and cut into 8 equal parts (like puffy pizza slices).
- In the palm of your hands, roll each piece into a ball.
- Space the dough balls apart, cover with the kitchen towel, and leave to rise for 2-3 hours at room temperature.
- Pour enough oil into the pan so it's about 5 cm deep, and heat on medium heat.
- The oil should be ready at 190ºC, but if you don't have a thermometer (like me), test it with a small piece of dough: if it sizzles and goes golden brown after 2 minutes, it's a good temperature. If the oil is not hot enough, the dough will soak it up and get all greasy; if it's too hot, the dough will burn.
- Carefully drop each dough ball into the oil with a slotted spoon or a fork, giving them enough space to float around.
- Fry for 2-3 minutes, until the underside is golden, then flip and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Don't move them around while frying.
- Transfer the fried bollen (yes, I can't bring myself to say 'balls' again) to plate lined with paper towels.
- Let them cool for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, pour the sugar into a bowl, and fill your piping back (or big syringe, like me) with jam.
- When the Berliner are cool enough to touch, poke the end of a wooden spoon or chopstick into the ball and move it around a bit to make a cavity.
- Stick your piping tip into the hole, and fill the Berliner with some jam (you be the judge).
- Once they're all filled, take them one-by-one and roll them around in the sugar.
- Place them on a plate, and dust with powdered sugar to serve!