Berliners – Because Everybody Loves a Jelly Donut

Jelly donuts are so decadent, and so good that President John F Kennedy claimed he actually was one. Or did he?
By Roxana Jullapat

Ich bin ein Berliner

The Berliner is the most famous incarnation of what most of us know as a jelly donut. Legend has it that during his visit to Berlin in 1963, American president John F. Kennedy proclaimed in a speech “Ich bin ein Berliner” – “I am a donut,” instead of “Ich bin Berliner” – “I am a citizen of Berlin.” News of Kennedy’s slip of the tongue spread like wild fire, turning the Berliner into one of the most recognizable pastries in the world. But since then, history has redeemed the late president, acknowledging that his statement wasn’t incorrect and that he indeed expressed what he intended even if with a heavy American accent.

4.4 from 5 reviews
Berliner Recipe - Because Everybody Loves a Jelly Donut
 
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Cook Time
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Tender donuts fried right before serving and filled with your favorite jelly, jam or marmalade.
Author:
Recipe Type: Baking
Serves: 12
Ingredients
For the donut dough:
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (6 grams) dry active or instant yeast
  • 3 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting the work surface
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (175 milliliters) buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup (75 grams) granulated sugar plus extra for rolling the donuts
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) butter at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 milliliters) vanilla extract
For finishing the donuts:
  • 1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) jelly, jam or marmalade of your choice
Instructions
  1. Place ½ cup (118 milliliters) lukewarm water in the bowl of an electric mixer, and rain the yeast over the water. Stir and set aside to activate for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the yeast mixture and combine in the electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment on very low speed for 1 minute. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly coated with non-stick spray –bowl should be large enough to let the dough double in size. Cover the bowl loosely with a plastic bag or plastic film and let rest for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume.
  4. While the dough is rising, combine sugar and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl and set aside. Then fit a pastry bag with a narrow plain decorative tip and fill with the jam or marmalade of your choice.
  5. When the dough is ready, turn it onto a floured surface, and roll it down with a rolling pin until it’s ½ to ¾ inch thick. Cut out 12 rounds with a 3½ –inch round cookie or biscuit cutter. Line a cookie sheet with a linen napkin and dust it generously with flour. Place the donuts on the prepared cookie sheet.
  6. Fill a large heavy-bottomed pot with frying oil (such as canola, sunflower or peanut) about 3 inches deep, and heat it over medium heat until the oil reaches 350ºF on a deep fry thermometer. Alternatively, preheat a countertop deep fryer to 350ºF.
  7. Working in batches, carefully drop the donuts one by one into the hot oil. Fry until the donuts are golden brown, then flip them over and fry the other side –this should take about 4 minutes total. Test for doneness and gauge if the donuts need more or less frying time, pick out a sacrificial donut and cutting it right in the middle to see if it’s cooked through. As the donuts are done, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Continue the process until all the donuts are fried. Let them sit until they’re cool enough to handle.
  8. While the donuts are warmish, gently toss them in the prepared cinnamon sugar. Then, use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke a hole three quarters of the way into the donut. Gently move it around to create a nice-size cavity for the jam. Insert the tip into the donut and fill it until it feels heavy. Repeat with the rest of the donuts.

 

Roxana Jullapat

Pastry Chef Roxana Jullapat, a Los Angeles native of Costa Rican and Thai descent, pursued a degree in journalism before turning to cooking. While taking a break after graduating from college, Roxana found herself baking a tarte tatin in the tiny kitchen of a local bistro. Her fate was sealed. Over the next ten years she held tenures at highly acclaimed American restaurants including Campanile, Bastide, Lucques, AOC and Clarklewis. Since 201, she owns and operates, Cooks County in the heart of Los Angeles, where she’s also the head baker. Fueled by the yearlong availability of outstanding fruits and vegetables of California, Roxana’s strongest suit is in working with seasonal produce and alternative grains. Her menus are known as perhaps one of the most farmers’ market driven in town.

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15 Comments
  1. Do you know if I could make these the night before? I would love to make them for my German class but I won’t have time before the class.

  2. Hello Beth,

    Yes, you could make the dough the night before, refrigerate the cut Berliners and then fry them the next morning (it would be good to let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before frying). You could also make from start to finish the night before but fill them with the jam the next morning. To store fried donuts overnight, place them single file on a tray lined with paper towels and then cover with a linen napkin. Avoid wrapping them with aluminum foil or plastic film because that could make them soggy. Hope these tips are helpful!

  3. these are sooooo good! I just had the best donut I ever ate in my life, if I do say so myself! Thanks for the recipe.

  4. These per perfect! However the recipe made way more than 12, and they weren’t very small, and no one was sad about that either! Also for flour, the recipe says 3 cups whcih is 375g and not 500g. So I started with that but then kept adding flour until the dough came together.

    A fantastic recipe! My husband, who is half German, was ecstatic when he got home and saw these sitting on the counter today (Carnival). I’m saving this one. Thank you!

  5. Just made these. Delicious! I made some modifications (skim milk vs buttermilk, added a ton of flour after rising process because the dough was like a thick cake batter…I mustve done something wrong!), and they turned out amazing. Crispy exterior and soft interior…filled with raspberry jam for my husband because that’s what his Oma used to make ;-)

  6. These donuts are amazing! I’ve never had a Jelly doughnut before but these are absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for this recipe

  7. What should the consistency of this dough be? Following the volume measurements, this recipe yielded a dough that was almost a batter. I’very been cautiously adding flour to bring it to a more workable dough. Is this a mistake.

  8. Hey Roxana, have you ever tried rolling pancake batter? I didn’t think so.
    I agree with jj. Something’s out of whack with your wet/dry amounts.
    I have no idea what those other people are talking about when they say this recipe was so good. They must have followed someone else’s recipe.
    They couldn’t have followed this one.

    Why people post recipes like this without actually trying them first drives me nuts.

    Get Honest and pull this recipe now – before you get any more people angry.

    Oh, and Zero stars. I’d do minus stars if it were possible.

  9. I was having the same problem with the dough. Was kind of a cake batter consistency. So I started to read the comments and there was a very useful one where it says that the quantities in cups are wrong, because 3 are not 500 grams. So i added about 2 extra cups of flour so i got a soft, homogeneous dough. I hope it works out for those who want to give this recipe a try!

  10. These are absolutely the bomb! Just like my mother, Inge, used to make which brings back good memories. I had no problems with the flour since I weigh my flour instead of measuring it but I can see the problem if you try to use cups. I’m making these again for Mother’s Day today.

  11. I made the donuts today for my daughter’s 10th birthday party. They were sensational and a hit with Nutella. I added a bit more milk and substituted the butter milk for milk with butter and it worked well. Absolutely no complaints and they have all been eaten- triple quantity!

  12. My mother mad ethereal th time…..But…warm milk was used instead of water, and light amount of sugar was sprinkled on the yeasts do milk and your immediately saw it sommencethe process…then it was still like warm when added to the flour……also, roll out some of th dough like thick sausage, the.m cut portions and join the ends and you end up with circle, you have the donut with the hole In the centre….deep Freyand then sprinkle with suger cinnamon … :)

  13. I made these and the Berliner was very dense. I tried another recipe that included a rise before frying and they worked out much better.

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