Growing up, I never really liked doughnuts.
That was until I participated in a federal volunteer program. During this program, I spent two months working with Habitat for Humanity (H4H) in Albany, New York. It was an experience I had really looked forward to, as I had always wanted to work with the organization. It was a really wonderful experience, although our daily breaks took some getting used to.
Each workday at 10:00 a.m. one of the staff would run to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and two dozen doughnuts. At first it was a lovely treat, this doughnut break. I’ve loved coffee since I was roughly 17 or so, and combine that delicious drink with a proper American fresh doughnut and you get a delectable yet simple treat.
By the close of the two months I worked with H4H I learned a lot about myself, about the non-profit organization, Albany, building and construction and the east coasters love affair with Duncan Donuts. Though I had quickly learned to love our epic coffee breaks they ended up being rather disgusting. Too much of a good thing. It was an unfortunate turn of events and really at its end I never cared to eat another doughnut ever again in my life.
I think it actually took me years to be able to even look at, much less eat, a doughnut. Today, I blame part of my desire to occasionally eat a doughnut on my pregnancy. In reality, I’ve had very mild cravings, if at all. So, honestly I can’t really say what it is that is driving me to find a ‘good’ doughnut in Germany; nostalgia perhaps, as the longer I am outside of America the more remote the memories become.
German bakeries have doughnuts, don’t get me wrong. The problem with most doughnuts that I’ve tried in Germany is that they are too doughy or cakey. Most of my favorite (small) doughnuts, not apple fritters for example, are actually light and fluffy, which seems simple enough. Traditionally, Germans are amazing bakers!
If you want to stop for a coffee break in traditional German fashion, it won’t just be a selection of pastries you get to choose to have your coffee with but beautiful, decadent yet fluffy and generally light cakes or Kuchen. However, Germans generally, in my experience, have a hard time creating American-style doughnuts. I’ve been repeatedly disappointed with what I’ve considered false advertising in various German Bäkerei/Conditorei (bakeries/sweet shops) meaning that the doughnuts look like American doughnuts, but they don’t have the same flavor or consistency (they are more cakey, as I’ve said above). It has been truly disappointing and sad.
That said, I’ve discovered an exception!!! In the image below is a coffee break I recently treated myself. Berliner doughnuts are supposedly famous, I think in part thanks to former U.S. President Kennedy:
Yes, I know there is an urban myth that during Kennedy’s speech, showing solidarity with divided Berliner’s in the 1960’s, supposedly said in German, “I am a jelly doughnut.” Unfortunately, Kennedy being President of the United States of America at the time, so-called “Leader of the Free World” and man with many interpreters and other language professionals and interculturalists at his disposal, did not in fact use incorrect German grammar, as urban legends claim, in this speech and did in fact say, “I am a Berliner.”
To be perfectly honest though, I’ve never really been a fan of this style of doughnut, mainly because it is often filled with jelly and that jelly is often filled with super sweet filling. I’m the type of person who, when making a PB & J (peanut butter & jelly) sandwich adds way more peanut butter than jelly. Outside of chocolate (especially dark chocolate), I prefer savory over sweet.
So, this exception, as seen below, is right up my alley! What you see below is homemade Heiß Schokade (hot chocolate) made with warmed and frothed 1.5% milk and Ovalmaltine (Ovaltine, in the U.S.) and to the left of the drink is a Nougat Berliner. Inside this German doughnut is a chocolatey cream that is just sweet enough.
What I’ve learned in my various travels throughout the world is that Americans have a tendency towards super sweet treats often utilizing refined sugar or even fake sugar; whereas many other nations opt for less or even more natural sugar.
It was perfect and amazing and with situations like this, I love being proven wrong! It isn’t an American doughnut, but I don’t live in America these days so, I think I’ve found an appropriate alternative.