Well, it’s officially 2018! And why not start the new year with some good old fashioned doughnuts? My grandma always called these New Years Küken (or “cookies”) but you may also know them as Portzelky. They are a German Mennonite favorite, always made for New Year’s day.
When I was a kid, these weren’t my favorite thing because they contained a dreaded ingredient – raisins. Not sure why, but I have always disliked raisins, especially in baked goods. You know when you pick up a cookie, thinking it’s chocolate chip, only to eat a raisin?! Worst thing ever… I can remember eating raisins out of those little red boxes as a child, and enjoying it. But now, despite my best efforts to get used to those shriveled little pockets of sadness… I just don’t like ’em.
Now that I am making my own New Year’s cookies, I can use whatever fruit I want! (Eat that, raisins!) I have always wanted to experiment with these little dougnuts, and decided to try three different flavors this year.
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The first uses raisins, but I soaked them with some alcohol for flavor (sloe gin to be exact). The second was candied citrus zest, and the third was apple and stem ginger, with a hint of cinnamon. All three also have some fresh orange zest and vanilla in the dough… because apparently I cannot leave anything alone. When I told Richard I wanted to make these, but add/change things, his response was “of course”.
(You may wonder why I am bothering to make raisin, but I want Richard to be able to try them, and he likes them.)
Now, my grandma always waited for these to cool a bit, and then dusted with icing sugar, but I decided to mix that up too. For the candied citrus zest ones, I rolled them in a bit of caster (berry) sugar after letting them drain off the oil. You need to do it while they are still warm (like the paska doughnuts I made last year) so that it sticks properly.
As for our opinions on which flavor is the best? Well, Richard and I both liked the candied zest and apple ones, but he also liked the raisin ones. He preferred the icing to caster sugar, but I can go both ways. Caster looks prettier than icing sugar, but it’s really a personal choice. As always, they taste best warm, so invite a few people over while you make them! Who would say no to warm, sugary doughnuts on New Years?
Portzelky (New Year's Kuken)
- 188 ml whole milk
- 188 ml water
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 43 g butter unsalted
- 3 eggs
- 58 g sugar
- 1 orange zested
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 595 g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 0.5 tsp baking powder
- 180 g raisins (chopped apple, mixed peel)
- vegetable oil for frying
- icing/caster sugar for dusting
Make the dough
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk and water to 45°C (115°F) with half of the sugar. Remove from the heat, and stir in the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes until bubbles start showing on the surface.
- In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, and eggs until foamy. Add in the melted butter, vanilla, and orange zest, followed by the yeast mixture.
- Pour the dry ingredients over the wet, and mix together with a wooden spoon until no large lumps remain. Add in your raisins, or other inclusions.
- Cover with some cling film, and allow to prove in a warm place for 45min-1hr or until double in size and bubbly.
Fry the portzelky
- When the dough is almost ready, heat your oil in a large pot until 180-185°C (360°F). Be careful to make sure that the oil doesn't get too hot or cool.
- When the oil is the correct temperature, drop spoonfuls of the batter, 3-4 at a time, and fry for about 4 minutes (2 each side). Your portzelky may turn on their own, so keep an eye on them.
- When they are a deep golden colour, remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on some paper towel lines plates.
- Toss in caster sugar or shake in a bag of icing sugar to coat. Enjoy!