In Portugal, for some reason, we have this summer tradition of eating sugar coated Berliners on the beach. Vendors walk the beach up and down under the scorching sun, carrying heavy camping cool boxes full of Berliners while preaching out and loud their cargo to draw the distracted vacationer’s attention. The traditional Portuguese Berliners are filled with pastry cream, not with red fruit jam like the German Berliners, and you can find them in every pastry shop around the country. And, although I’m not a huge fan of these deep fried, greasy, sugar coated type of donuts, with their overly sweet yellow custard filling, I always have one or two during my vacations, normally on the first or the last day, because they taste like summer holidays when eaten at the beach, contemplating the blue sea.
So, now that we are rapidly approaching summer, I wanted to take a different approach and decided to go for oven baked Berliners instead of deep frying them. Although you still need to slightly coat the donuts with melted butter to get the sugar to stick to them, overall you will only need one tablespoon of butter to coat the whole 12 Berliners. Like in Germany, I filled my Berliners with homemade strawberry jam. The dough itself is not very sweet, since it only has 50 g of sugar on it, but the slight acidity of the jam counterbalances the sugar coating sweetness. So, compared to the Portuguese Berliners, these oven baked Berliners are incredibly soft, airy and just melt in your mouth. The sweet aroma that comes from the oven and the little peek of jam on the side make them irresistible, don’t you agree?
Of course, you can use any type of jam that you like, although I think Berliners go specially well with a berry jam, like strawberry, blueberry, blackberry or raspberry, precisely because they have a slightly tart flavor. When choosing your jam pick one that is thick, so it doesn’t run out of the donut as easily, and smooth, without large fruit pieces, so the piping tip doesn’t get clogged.
I used homemade strawberry jam for these baked Berliners
Strawberry jam is very simple to make at home: I used 1 kg strawberries – which I washed, hulled and cut into small pieces of, more or less, the same size – 750 g jam sugar and juice of one lemon. Combined everything together in a large pot, stirred well, covered and let macerate for two hours at room temperature, stirring one or two times during this period. Then, I cooked the strawberries on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
Although you can make larger batches of jam, I prefer to cook around one kilo of fruit each time; the shorter the cooking time, the better the flavor (it will be more fresh). If you prefer a smoother jam, just mash the strawberries while they cook, to break them down a little more.
Most traditional jam recipes use an equal weight of fruit and sugar, but it’s fine to decrease it. You can even go down a little more on the sugar, to around half the weight of the fruit, if you make a small batch, keep it in the refrigerator and use it relatively quickly (in jams, sugar is both a thickener and a preservation agent).
Finally, strawberries are low on natural pectin, which is an essential ingredient to give jams, and jellies, their jelled consistency. That is why I used jam sugar to make this strawberry jam. Jam sugar, which you can find at the supermarket, has added pectin (which comes from fruit). Some fruits, like apples and quinces, are naturally very high in pectin. So, if you can’t find jam sugar, one alternative is to add a finely grated green apple to the strawberries before cooking them. It won’t change the flavor a lot and it will add the necessary pectin. If you don’t add pectin, you’ll have to cook the jam for much longer and, in the end, it will not taste like fresh strawberries neither it will have the same shade of vibrant red.
Oven baked Berliners with strawberry jam
These oven baked Berliners are incredibly soft, airy and just melt in your mouth. The sweet aroma from the oven and the little peek of jam on the side make them irresistible, don’t you agree?
Prep Time: | Cook Time: | Resting Time: 1 hour 5 minutes | Total:
Makes: 12 Berliners
- 315 to 375 g all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 100 g granulated sugar, divided (50 g for the dough, plus 50 g to coat the Berliners)
- 7 g instant dry yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 165 ml warm milk (not hot)
- 45 g unsalted butter melted, plus 1 tablespoon for coating the Berliners
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 150 g strawberry jam (the smooth kind, without large fruit pieces)
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 125g flour, the sugar, yeast and salt.
- Add the warm milk, as well as 45 g melted butter, the egg yolks and vanilla extract, and whisk vigorously to combine well. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, until some bubbles appear on the surface.
- Add 190 g flour and knead the dough in the bowl for 5 minutes. If the dough is really sticking to your hands, dust it with 1 tbsp flour at a time then continue kneading until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl or to your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (approximately 45 minutes in a heated oven at 50˚C; at room temperature it will depend on the air temperature, so you need to check).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the dough on a floured surface and roll it out to approximately 1 cm thick. Use a round cookie cutter (I used a 8 cm plating ring) to cut identical circles. Re-roll the scraps, if needed, to make the 12 Berliners. Gently place the Berliners on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel and let them rise in a heated oven (50˚C) for 20 minutes, until puffed.
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Bake the Berliners in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden on top.
- Melt the remaining butter and add the last 50 g of sugar to a bowl. As soon as you take the Berliners out from the oven, brush each one all over with melted butter and roll it on the sugar. Using a knife, make a deep cut in the side of each Berliner and pipe a small amount of strawberry jam with a pastry bag.
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