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Food Origins: Berlin Pancakes

berlin pancakes

Berlin-style pancakes are one of the most-traditional pastries in Germany. One popular legend says Berliner pancakes were invented in 1756 by a Berlin confectioner. The legend states that he wanted to serve as a gunner under the Prussian King Frederick the Great, but was unfit for military service. However, he was grateful that he was allowed to stay as a field baker in the regiment. As a “thank you” gift, he created the first pancake and gave the dough pieces the shape of cannonballs. He then baked them, since no ovens were available, over an open fire in a pan filled with hot grease.

About 100 years later the first recipes for Berlin-style pancakes with the jam fillings, like we know it today, were written down in cookbooks of the Prussian crown bakery. Until today, it is one of the most-popular pastries in Germany, especially in Berlin. You can buy it all around the year, but traditionally they are served during the carnival season and on New Years Eve.

On New Years Eve, we have a tradition in Germany to serve a tray of Berlin pancakes to your friends with one of them having not a jam, but a mustard filling. Whoever bites in the mustard filled pancake will get good luck for the next year.

Berlin Pancake Recipe

This recipe is for around 20 Berlin-style pancakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 kilogram (35 oz) wheat flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 grams (3.5 oz) butter
  • 6 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cubes yeast
  • 1 teaspoon lukewarm water
  • Whole milk
  • Frying oil or vegetable oil for frying
  • Jam for the filling (strawberry or plum are traditional fillings)

Utensils

  • Big mixing bowl
  • Baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Small pan
  • Pot for frying
  • Piping bag with decoration tube with a narrow and even tip for filling the pancakes

Preparation

  • Mix yeast, sugar, salt and one teaspoon lukewarm water.
  • Put eggs in measuring cup and fill with whole milk to 1/2 liter (17 fl oz). Mix well. Pour into pan and heat up a little, just until it is lukewarm. Stir in 100 g butter.
  • Put wheat flour in big mixing bowl. Pour in egg, milk and butter mixture. Next, pour in yeast, sugar and salt mixture.
  • Mix everything and knead well for about three minutes, until you get an even dough.
  • Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes at room temperature.
  • Start kneading the dough again, for a couple minutes, and let it rest again for 15-20 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 90 g (3 oz) pieces and form them into “cannonballs.“
  • Put cannonballs on a baking sheet with parchment paper and give dough balls a rising time of about 45-60 minutes at room temperature.
  • Heat up frying oil / vegetable oil in a pot to a temperature of 160 C – 170 C (320 F – 340 F).
  • Start frying the cannonballs. They will float in the oil, so you have to flip them carefully after frying for about 2-3 minutes. For a better result, keep a lid on the pot while frying them. Both sides need to fry for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Do not let the frying fat get too hot. Pancakes should look golden-brown from the outside on both side tops, and the center part should be brighter in color, like in the photo.
  • Let the pancakes cool down.
  • Fill the pancakes with jam through the piping bag. A teaspoon of jam is enough for each pancake.
  • Traditionally the Berlin-style pancake is filled with strawberry jam or plum compote / jam. But you can use what ever you want and don‘t forget to fill one with spicy mustard!
  • To finish the pancakes, sprinkle them with powdered sugar or toss them in regular sugar (you have to do that right after frying, to get the regular sugar to stick to the pancakes). You can also put chocolate or other icing on top, or use a traditional sugar frosting.

Enjoyed making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram or Twitter and tag your culinary creations with #ACWrecipes. Have questions? Tweet @airculinaire.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article, contact Joern Fette at post@aviation-catering.de.

This is an article by guest author Joern Fette of Carlos Aviation Catering. Joern is an executive chef specializing in private jet catering in Germany. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Joern’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Air Culinaire Worldwide.

If you would like to be considered for becoming a guest author, please contact socialmedia@airculinaire.com.

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