Eating a Berliner in Berlin with Berliners

The Berliner Pfannkuchen is not only among my favourite German food, but also one of my top snack foods in Europe. It is very similar I guess to a regular doughnut from American cuisine, but also Krofne from Croatia, Bombolone from Italy, and Buñuelos from Latin America. What makes the Berliner different to a traditional doughnut, though, is the lack of a central hole. It is literally just shaped and sized like a bread roll that is made of two halves that are deep-fried in lard and then stuck together before the filling is inserted (usually with a syringe).

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The fillings and coatings of a Berliner Pfannkuchen can differ from region to region and from shop to shop. Jam is a traditional filling, and of course sugar and icing are the usual toppings, but I learned from my German friends that the filling and topping are actually linked – whenever fruit jam is used inside, then sugar must be sprinkled on top, yet for any other filling, icing must be used. I guess this why you always kind of know what is inside the pastry before you buy it (or if you can’t read). A typical German April Fool’s joke can include presenting your friends enemies with a mustard-filled Berliner Pfannkuchen without telling them what’s inside…

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Many Berliners (that is, the PEOPLE of Berlin) enjoy these German doughnuts with early morning tea and coffee, although as a tourist I was more eager to try them as snack food. In London, it is hard to find a good German bakery, so when I had the chance to visit Berlin, I had to eat a Berliner (that is, the FOOD from Berlin)! I could never find out if the Berliner was actually invented in Berlin or in other areas of central Europe, but it seemed that the good people of the city were more than happy to pronounce it as one of their local food items.

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The bakeries “Zeit fur Brot”, “Weinerbrot”, and “Alpenstuck” were where we got our delicious Berliners over a period of 4 days in the city, and at less than 1 Euro each I think they were excellent value. How many did we eat? Well, that’s a secret, but let’s just say that my strenuous adventures in the Tiergarten the following day were certainly not a bad thing to burn off a few calories…

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