Everything you need to know about Faschingskrapfen
Fasching, or carnival season in Austria, isn't just about wearing crazy, colourful costumes and watching parades - it's also the time of year when you can eat as many Krapfen, or jam-filled doughnuts as you want. As we approach Faschingsdienstag, or Shrove Tuesday, here are some things to know about Krapfen before you give them up for Lent.
It's got to be apricot
It's not a real Viennese Faschingskrapfen unless it has sticky apricot jam inside. According to strict Krapfen standards, apricot jam must make up at least 15 percent of the entire doughnut, and at least six fresh egg yolks must be included in every kilogram of flour used to make the dough.
Vienna Krapfen-makers who scrimp on their jam and eggs may end up with a fine from the MA 59 - the food inspection officers.
The best Krapfen are fluffy with a crispy surface and have a visible injection hole on the side. (Bite straight into it to avoid jam disasters.) They are finished off with a generous coating of fine icing sugar. Sometimes rum is added to the jam, so if you feel rather giddy after scoffing a couple, that could be why.
A good Krapfen may taste deliciously light and fluffy, but with between 200 and 400 calories apiece, and containing an average of 12 grams of fat, these doughnuts are not kind to your waistline. (Be warned: It takes around 50 minutes of moderate to brisk exercise to burn this many calories.) However, in the past, particularly in times of war and rationing, monks and priests are said to have recommended that their parishioners tuck into the fatty, sugary treats so that they could gain enough strength to get them through Lent.
Although consumption may have decreased as Austrians became more health conscious, it's been estimated that Austrians consume an amazing 100 million Faschingskrapfen per year. (That's around 12 doughnuts per Austrian). They don't call it Fat Tuesday for nothing. But luckily it's followed by four weeks of fasting, or Lent. Traditionally Krapfen are only sold between December 31st and Ash Wednesday.
They go way back
Faschingskrapfen are said to have their origins in the ancient world. The Greeks used to offer up their goddess Ceres sweet, baked doughnuts and the Romans served them at festivals and parties. But the real ‘Krapfen' first appeared in Vienna in the 19th century, when a famous Viennese chef called Cäcilie Krapf created “Cilly Balls” - doughnuts with an apricot jam centre, which immediately became the thing to eat at carnival dances and balls in Vienna.
We've heard that the Krapfen at Groissböck, Felber, and Mann all score highly with locals - so watch out for those!
An earlier version of this article was published on February 9th, 2016.