Our version of an Austrian classic, these vegan doughnuts are a sweet indulgence that have everything: crispy outside, fluffy inside, rich in flavour, sugar on top… But what makes it complete is the apricot jam filling in it’s core! Sweet heaven!
Krapfen – More Fun Than It Sounds!
I am not religious, and I am not too bothered by a lot of traditions (not even my upcoming birthday), but this is one I can agree with: The Faschingskrapfen! Which are Apricot jam-filled doughnuts that are typically devoured in carnival season, which spans from 11th November, 11.11am, to the beginning of lent in February. In Austria, carnival is called ‘Fasching’, therefore Faschingskrapfen translates as ‘carnival doughnut’. The end of Fasching, like carnival elsewhere, is a crazy colourful festival and parades of funky costumes and ridiculously propped vehicles. Faschingskrapfen are an absolute must-have!
I grew up the “Apricot valley” Wachau, not too far from Vienna. For a child, both Fasching and Faschingskrapfen are highlights of the cold season. A ‘Krapfen’ without apricot jam was, and still is, not a real Krapfen to me (which led to some disappointing culinary events later in my life). The fascination with the sweet luxury baking good was enhanced by these special doughnuts only being available for the duration of Fasching season. Eating one before 11/11 or after Shrove Tuesday (Faschingsdienstag) was frowned upon. My sister back in Austria is still going to be shocked when she finds out I baked doughnuts in October! Sorry sis, I had to warm up my Krapfen skillz in preparation for this post ;-)
I’m sure she can forgive me when she has one of these homebaked Faschingskrapfen, which are so tasty, that I don’t mind being naughty and eating them all year round. Even if I have to simply call them ‘Krapfen’.
Doughn’t worry, be happy!
Making your own vegan doughnuts is not exactly simple. It will seem like a lengthy and complicated process (Mixing, rising, shaping, rising again, deep-frying, filling). But once you’ve had your first success with making doughnuts, you will see how it’s worth the effort. So let’s get started!
Like all Austrian sweet bakery, the Carnival Doughnuts are typically made with lots of butter and eggs. I experimented a good bit last year (SOOO many doughnuts!) and eventually refined my modified recipe. These vegan doughnuts are every bit as indulgent as the original! At the same time, the recipe is simpler. Not using eggs or butter actually makes the dough easier to mix together.
Make your own vegan doughnuts
Keep reading for detailed tips on how to make your very own vegan doughnuts or take me straight to the Faschingskrapfen recipe!
What I really love when I use yeasted doughs, is to watch the yeast bubble up in a liquid-sugar mixture. Not only is it amazing to see it in action, it also serves as a test to make sure your yeast is viable. It also provides the yeast with a head start, activating it and helps its even distribution in the dough. Just make sure your soy milk is not too hot, or it will kill of the yeast. A general rule of thumb that works for me: If it’s too warm to stick your finger in, it’s too hot.
Preparing a yeast starter only takes 15 minutes. You can, however, omit this step and simply mix all the ingredients together into a dough if you prefer less faff and manual labour. The dough might just require a longer time to complete its first rise. Apart from that, I just LOVE to watch the bubbly yeast layer swimming on the milk grow centimeter by centimeter.
You Knead to Rest
It is enough to mix the ingredients into a uniform dough. There’s no need to knead (haha). However, the three rising steps are essential to get the deliciously bouncy, fluffy and light texture of the doughnut. Knock back the dough after the first and second rise, and enjoy how it develops its smooth texture.
I often find it hard to find a warm spot for my dough to rest. I like to stick it in the oven to keep it cosy, sitting in the mixing bowl and covered with a tea towel. If your oven allows, turn just the light on. Or turn the oven on just long enough for it to get a bit warm. Put a tray with some steamy hot (boiled) water on the shelf below. If your oven has a dough proving function, use it!
Alternatively, rest the dough in a warm water bath. Use a big bowl with a tight fitting lid (but no clampy ones). Put the dough inside, cover with the lid, and float in the sink that’s filled with water just not too hot to comfortably leave your hand in. You might have to add hot water for each resting stage to maintain the warmth.
Whatever method you use, once again make sure the dough does not get too hot. Heat-stressed yeast dies or produces unwanted aromas. In the oven, the dough can dry out if it’s too warm. Again, if it’s any more than cosy warm for your hand, it’s probably too hot!
On a Roll – Shaping Doughnuts
Rolling the bits of dough into balls is one of the most fun bits about making doughnuts. The size of 50 grams per piece is on the small side, for an Austrian doughnut. Make them bigger if you want! I have also made tiny doughnuts of half the size before, great for community socials or a Christmas Party!
If you are not as bothered with equal portion sizes as me, you can just divide your dough into roughly tablespoon sized dollops. I, however, prefer to weigh my entire dough first, and then divide the total weight into ten equal portions. Or more, or less, if you want smaller, or bigger ones. 10 is just a nice number to calculate with. (Ever tried to do figure out 495 divided by 8 in your head? … [about a minute later] … about 62!) I just don’t like ending up with one oddly smaller or bigger doughnut. (Perfectionist alert!)
Once you have divided your dough into more or less equal parts, shape each into a smooth ball on a flour-dusted board or work surface. Here’s how you do that: First, gently press it flat and fold the edges inward like an envelope. When it starts to become a little firm bundle, turn it over.
Now comes the tricky part. With your cupped hand, use a circular motion to roll the piece of dough. You don’t want to press down on it as much as pushing it around at its base, exerting just enough pressure for it to not just slide or roll over. If that does not make any sense to you at this point, it’s time to get hands on and experience what it feels like to roll dough balls. Check out the photo above and the video below! It’s a basic technique that is also used in the making of many small baked goods. With some practice, you’ll get it nailed!
Getting Fat – Final Prove
There they sit, so cute, aren’t they? You might think, they seem so small. You are right. For now. Time for them to rest under the damp tea towel again! Once again,in a warm place, if possible (give them up to about an hour). The next time you see them they should be transformed – big, fluffy, puffy! If they are not, give them some more time.
Saying that, I know that I am sometimes running the risk of overproving them, in the pursuit of the perfect, light Faschingskrapfen that are springy like a fat pillow and have the ominous white ring at their equator (more about that in a bit). Instead, I sometimes end up with rather sad looking wrinkled deflated bags. They will still taste great but will be a bit dense and flat. Which also means, less space for jam filling! All in all, when you think your doughnuts are not quite ready to go be cooked, it might be a good idea to at least start heating up the frying fat.
Getting Fatter – Deep Frying
I usually feel a little bit guilty when I’m deep-frying stuff. No, not because it’s unhealthy. It’s just needs so much oil that is just left in the pan at the end! However, with doughnuts, the whole point of them is to deep-fry them. Without deep-frying, there are no doughnuts!!! Oh, I have tried to bake them in the oven – it failed. Even when they were coated in oil anyway. It simply does not work without deep-frying. If you choose to have something as indulgent as a doughnut, you need to forget about the implications, about your health and the waste of oil. Trying to bake doughnuts without deep-frying them is missing the whole point! Having stressed this point enough now, I sometimes keep the used doughnut fat and re-use it the next time.
I would normally use sunflower or rapeseed oil for deep frying. If you wanna go pricey, by all means, try coconut oil. I prefer a plain, neutral oil. Just don’t use raw, unrefined oil. It’s not suitable for deep-frying!
Use a pan that’s deep enough to put the lid on while the doughnuts are swimming in 2-3 centimeters of oil. The wider the pan, the more doughnuts you can fry at the same time, but the more fat you have to use.
Fill your pan 2-3cm deep with oil. That is just enough to keep your doughnuts from touching the bottom of the pan and thus getting too dark. Heat the oil to 150 – 160°C. I highly recommend the use of a suitable thermometer ( I use a jam thermometer). Even just ten degrees can make the difference between a soft and golden brown (150°C) and a dark crispy (160°C) doughnut. You should stay within that range if you want to avoid undercooking or burning your doughnuts.
When the oil reaches optimum temperature, the real fun can begin! Very, very carefully transfer the doughnuts into the hot oil, one by one. I use a doughscraper to get underneath them, with the aid of a spatula. Open to suggestions on that! I sometimes impair the perfect smooth shape of the doughnuts by being too rough. That also tends to happen when the dough is overproved.
Watch out for splashes of hot oil! Also, unlike me, try and keep the pan handle over the hob or work surface, rather than sticking out, as a safety measure.
When the doughnuts land in the oil, it should immediately begin to bubble up around them, or you might need a bit extra heat. Otherwise you can now put the lid on and turn back the heat to medium – find out what setting works best for your hob and pan to keep the heat steady! At this point, the doughnuts have been swimming in the hot oil for almost a minute, so I set the timer to 3 minutes longer. Let the doughnuts fry with the lid on. When the three minutes are over, take the lid off and turn the doughnuts over. They should be golden brown on one side. YAY! Without the lid, fry for 3-4 more minutes on the other side.
In the meantime, prepare a plate with a double layer of kitchen roll. When the doughnuts are nicely brown on the other side, get them out of the pan. Ideally, you use a perforated spoon for that. Set them down on the plate to cool down for a few minutes.
Good Lord of the Rings
At that point, there is the chance that I get especially excited. That is, when the doughnuts have a light-coloured ring of about half a centimeter width around its side. That only happens when a doughnut has proved for just the right time to be super fluffy and light, but strong enough to hold its shape. If it has overproved, it will likely deflate, flatten and dense up as the internal structure collapses when you attempt to lift the doughnut up. When the doughnut has not proved long enough, it will be dense and sink in too far (beyond half its depth) into the oil for the ring to form. In other words, the white ring simply means perfection.
Doughn’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, or the second time. I don’t always get the white ring. Sometimes it’s faint, or just visible on one side of the doughnut. Your doughnuts are still going to be mega tasty. But when you do get a white ring around them, it’s all the more exciting!
Fill me up
When all doughnuts are baked, it’s time to give them their soul – the apricot jam! Like mentioned before, apricot jam is the classic. If you haven’t got any, well, you should. Nothing beats it. Nothing. If you have to, make do with strawberry, raspberry or plum jam, or experiment with vanilla or chocolate fillings. I’ll just make sure I’m always taking enough jars of apricot jam with me every time I’m in Austria to keep me going ’til the next visit. Or have my mum send me some for Christmas again. (Yes.)
Check out our homemade best apricot jam recipe!
Before we can fill our doughnuts, we need to poke holes in them. I use a chop stick (the pitysome single ones that spend their retirement lonely in one of the kitchen utensils drawers). Stick it in a bit beyond the middle. I also like to try and poke around in it, to make a bigger cave inside. Bigger cave – more jam – more yum!
To fill the doughnuts, I don’t use one of those fancy jam syringes. I often don’t like their nozzle shapes, getting too wide at the back. The one we have at home is also really annoying to clean! I use a cheap 100 ml ‘single use’ medical plastic syringe you can find on ebay. It might say single use, but for filling doughnuts, that doesn’t matter. The nozzle is long and thin enough to reach towards the center of the doughnuts. It also holds all the jam I need to fill ten (or more) doughnuts. I fill each doughnut with about a teaspoon (5ml) of apricot jam, and a bit extra for good measure. More yum, you know.
When I pull back the syringe and the jam comes flowing right out again, I’ve probably fit all the jam inside I can. Well done!
TIP: Stand the doughnuts on their side with the filling hole facing up to keep the jam from spilling.
The sugar on the doughnut
An Austrian doughnut is only complete with a hat of icing sugar. A lot of icing sugar. If it does not look like a snowy mountain in the winter, it’s not enough icing sugar. That’s the idea. Not everybody here in Britain agrees. That’s ok. Tastes are different. But whatever you do – don’t omit the icing sugar! It enhances everything. It’s the cherry on top… Better than the icing on the cake… And maybe it’s time for a new one: It’s the sugar on the doughnut!
Now quick, try the dougnuts while they’re still warm on the inside! There’s nothing quite like the first bite into a freshly baked doughnut. I don’t think there’s a tidy way of eating Krapfen. You would be lucky to get though the season without spraying icing sugar and spilling jam onto your blouse or trousers. But that’s somehow a part of the fun and is always good for a moment of laughter. And maybe it also adds to the image of Faschingskrapfen of a sweet naughty joy.
There you go. I have shared all I know about making vegan Faschingskrapfen with you. I feel like it took me days. (Wait, it did.)
Now there’s nothing more to say but I’m hungry now. I hope that, after reading all of this, you are too and are going to try our recipe! Good Luck!
Have a happy Fasching! ;-)
Carnival Doughnuts filled with Apricot Jam (Faschingskrapfen)
- 160 ml soy milk, sweetened lukewarm
- 2 tsp dry yeast
- 40 g sugar
- 250 g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 30 ml vegetable oil
- Yeast starter
Filling & dusting
- 50 ml apricot jam (plus a bit extra)
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
Mix Dough (quick, easy method)
- Combine Flour, sugar yeast and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Add lukewarm soy milk and vegetable oil.
- Mix until it comes together into a uniform dough. No need to knead much further.
Mix Dough (sophisticated method)
- Create yeast mixture: Make sure soy milk is lukewarm. If you can’t stick your finger in, it’s too hot! (30 – 60 sec. in the microwave works for me) Stir in yeast and sugar. Set aside for at least 10 min to let it bubble up. The longer you let it sit, the more active your yeast gets already.
- In the meantime, combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a dip in the center.
- Add bubbled-up yeast mixture and oil into the mixing bowl.
- Mix until it comes together to a uniform dough. No need to knead further.
Rise & Shape
- In a minimally greased bowl, cover your dough (e.g. with a damp tea towel). Always let your dough rest in a warm place. If you can’t find somewhere, you can use your oven with just the light on, or a warm water bath in the sink.
- Rest for 45 minutes, then knock back the dough
- Rest again for 30 minutes and knock back
- Rest for a final 30 minutes.
- Divide your dough into 10 portions of 45-50 g each
- Shape into balls:– Gently flatten piece of dough.
– Fold edges towards center repeatedly. Turn this bundle upside down.
– Exerting slightest pressure, roll into a ball using circular movements of your cupped hand.
- Final prove, 60-90 min:
Rest dough balls on a lightly floured surface (wooden board) in a warm place, covered with a damp tea towel. Give them enough space to expand to twice their size.
- Heat enough oil in a deep frying pan to be about 2 cm high.
- Use a thermometer to make sure you deep-fry at 150-160 °C. Once up to temperature, switch to about medium heat to keep the temperature.
- Careful not to deflate them, scoop up one doughnut after another using a dough scraper and a spatula and VERY CAUTIOUSLY lower it into the hot fat.
- Put on the lid and fry for 3-4 minutes, until the doughnuts are golden brown on one side.
- Turn the doughnuts over in the pan and fry for another 3-4 minutes without the lid on. If you don’t see bubbling typical for deep frying or doughnuts are a bit pale, increase heat a nuance.
- Lift doughnuts onto a plate covered with kitchen roll.
Filling & Dusting
- When cooled down enough to touch, use a chopstick or similar to poke a hole to the center of each doughnut.
- Using a syringe with a long nozzle, fill each doughnut with about 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of apricot jam.
- Dust generously with icing sugar (using a very fine sieve).
- ENJOY your first bite of DOUGHNUT HEAVEN while it’s fresh! ;-)
If you don’t have any of this product, then you should. You can try strawberry or plum jam instead, and experiment with chocolate or vanilla fillings. Just don’t complain if it’s not the best v***n thing you’ve ever eaten. We’ve told you it’s not as mindblowing as with apricot jam! :-P
PS: Oh, and let us know how you did, ask us for tips or leave your advice in the comments!