Croatian jelly doughnuts are traditionally baked throughout February, during carnival time.
By Tamara Novacoviç
Croatian jelly doughnuts are called Krafne and they’re made without a hole in the middle, traditionally filled with jam. They can also be filled with custard or chocolate, but that is less common. The name comes from German Krapfen, which are common in Austria and Germany. In Israel they are called Sufganiyot, in Italy Bomboloni. In Croatia, they are traditionally baked during February, it’s the month of winter festival called maskare / poklade / fasnik – our carnival. However, we tend to enjoy them throughout entire year.
Krafne reminds me of my childhood, because mom’s krafne have always been the best for me. They remind me of times when we played in front of a parking lot covered in snow. There was a small hill there that seemed so much bigger to a 5-year-old. We were dressed up in layers of winter clothing that disabled our movements, yet we persistently dug through snow and made dozens of snowmen. With frozen cheeks and noses, we would come home to a hot cup of tea with honey and lemon and a warm batch of fresh doughnuts. My mom still makes my favorite doughnuts and the secret is…? Simply the fact that they’re mom’s and they bear so many beautiful childhood memories. Also, they are miniature and almost overfilled with her home made plum jam that oozes while you eat them. That’s another fact that makes them so appealing.
Eventually, I ventured to make my own doughnuts. To try and recreate mom’s would be merely a blasphemy, so I didn’t even bother. I tested several recipes and came to a combination that we really enjoyed.
For better understanding, take a look at this video of preparing traditional Croatian krafne.
- 4 cups + 2.5 tbsp (500 g) flour
- 1.4 oz (40 g) fresh yeast
- 0.4 cups (100 ml) vegetable oil
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp rum
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk
- 0.2 cup (50 g) sugar
- 2.5 tsp vanilla flavored sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- some marmalade for filling
- powdered sugar for dusting
- about 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable oil for frying
- Let all ingredients sit at room temperature before using.
- Combine yeast with warm milk and sugar until it dissolves and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes.
- In another bowl, combine flour, salt, lemon zest and vanilla sugar. Add yolks, rum, oil and yeast combined with milk. Beat with your mixer (fitted with dough attachments) to make the dough. Traditional way to make it would be using your hands: you'd beat the dough with wooden spoon until it separates from the bowl. The dough will be on the soft and sticky side-just what you need. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place for 1 - 1 and half hour.
- Dust working surface with flour and slightly knead risen dough. Roll it out to 0,4 inch (1 cm) thick. With circle cutters (you can use glass as well) cut out doughnuts. Place them onto clean kitchen towel lightly dusted and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes. In this stage, you want them nicely rise so that they'd have gorgeous pale ring.
- There's another equally good way to do this: When you make the dough, immediately separate it into equal round balls. Nicely shape them with your palms and let rise in warm place for 1 hour. Then fry them.
- Heat oil in large skillet. How do we know that oil is ready for the doughnuts? Put a handle of wooden spoon into it-if the bubbles appear evenly around it, the temperature is right.
- Fry doughnuts: put the upper risen side into oil first. We do this to ensure that the bottom of doughnuts fries enough and becomes nicely round. Fry for about 2 minutes, covered with lid. When they begin getting nice golden color, immediately turn them around and fry for another 2 minutes, this time uncovered. Don't let them get dark brown color as it will make them hard. Assemble onto paper towels that will soak up oil.
- Use pastry bag with round attachment to fill them - insert attachment into the side of each doughnut. Fill with jam. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.