Legend has it that in 1963, President Kennedy made a grammatical gaffe in a speech delivered partially in German, proudly declaring, “I am a jelly-filled doughnut.”
Confusion arose over the phrasing that he chose when intending to proclaim solidarity with the people of Berlin. “Ich bin ein Berliner” could apparently refer to the people of Berlin or their namesake pastry.
German linguists insist that JFK’s grammar was accurate, and his audience would not have confused him with a fruity pastry. But the story is fun nonetheless.
Fortunately you can make these at home without the needing fumble through learning German grammar. All you need is a batch of brioche and your favorite jam, and you’ll be well on your way.Print
You can’t go wrong with these tasty jelly-filled doughnuts, and the filling options are endless. Got fresh fruit jam or tasty preserves? What about a thick chocolate pudding? Best of all is vanilla custard, topped with chocolate ganache for an iconic Boston Cream experience.
- 1 batch brioche dough, (refrigerated overnight)
- 1 liter vegetable oil
- Filling of your choice: jelly (jam, fruit preserves, custard)
- Powdered sugar
- Cut the brioche dough into two-ounce pieces and shape into rounds. Place on a generously floured tray and let proof at room temperature until the dough slowly springs back into place when touched lightly.
- In a frying pan, heat 2 1/2 inches of oil to 375°F. Carefully place 6 of the doughnuts in the fry oil, let it sit for 3 minutes, then turn over. Fry for 3 minutes on the other side, then remove and drain on a paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Once the doughnuts have cooled, use a paring knife to slice a hole in 2/3 deep into the side of each one. Using a piping bag with a medium tip, pipe in one ounce of filling.
- Dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
Keywords: doughnuts, breakfast, jelly-filled, berliner
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step One – Form
If you’ve followed my recipe for brioche, your dough has been sitting overnight in the refrigerator. Divide the chilled dough into 2-ounce pieces and shape into rounds.
The simplest way to do this is to fold the dough in half so that it makes a smooth top. Forming a cage with your fingertips against the countertop, roll the round around the outside edge of your palm to tighten the dough into place.
For a more in-depth explanation of the shaping process, you can refer to my guide to shaping.
Once all of the dough is shaped, place it on a generously floured baking tray. Flour the tops of the dough as well so that it does not form a skin.
Let proof at room temperature until the top of the dough springs slowly back into place when touched lightly with the tip of your finger.
Step Two – Fry
Once the doughnuts are finished proofing, heat up your frying pan of oil.
I like to use a deep cast-iron for this as it holds the heat well. Any deep frying pan will do, just be sure that it is deep enough to hold 2 1/2 inches of oil with a bit of wiggle room to bubble without overflowing.
Keep a thermometer in the oil at all times in order to gauge whether it is getting too hot or too cold. You might need to increase or decrease your stove heat throughout the process in order to keep the temperature of the oil consistent.
Once the oil reaches 375°F, it is ready for frying. Gently place 6 of the rounds in the pan. I like to do this using a slotted spoon so that I can avoid splashing myself with hot oil.
Let simmer for 3 minutes before flipping over to cook on the other side for 3 minutes more. Again, I prefer to flip them using a slotted spoon, in order to avoid a dangerous mess.
After the doughnuts are finished, let them cool on a plate or wire cooling rack covered with paper towels to drain any excess oil. Repeat the process for the remaining rounds.
Step Three – Fill
After the doughnuts are cool enough to touch, use a paring knife to form a slit in the side of the pastry about 2/3 deep.
Pipe the filling into the hole. About 1 ounce per pastry will do.
Step Four – Feast!
Dust your doughnuts with powdered sugar. The true sign of a Berliner well-devoured is the powdery sweetness left behind on the lips!
If you’re a fan of a good Boston Cream, here’s a great alternative:
To keep the jelly-filled goodness going, also make sure to check out our fruit-filled buttery baked donut recipe, too.
Have you ever had a Berliner before? What is your favorite filling to enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.