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Little German Donuts - Schmalzkuchen


Schmalzkuchen - Homemade German Yeast Donuts

Schmalzkuchen - Homemade German Yeast Donuts


Walk through any of the street fairs in Germany and you will be accompanied by the smell of these delightful donuts. Yeast dough flavored with lemon and vanilla, then fried into golden puffs. Because the dough is not sweet, the vendors liberally sprinkle powdered sugar on the donuts.

These donuts are traditional at wintertime festivals, especially in Northern Germany. Now you can make them at home for the family. Eat them within a few hours of frying because, like most homemade donuts, they quickly become stale.

Makes 48 little donuts, about 4 servings.

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Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 43 minutes


  • 1 5/8 c. all purpose flour (250 grams) plus extra
  • 1 tsp. dried yeast
  • 1/2 c. (125 ml.) warm milk
  • 2 T. sugar (40 grams)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. vanilla sugar (or another tablespoon sugar)
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Powdered sugar
  • Oil for deep fat frying


Place all the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the warm milk in the well, sprinkle the yeast on top and add a pinch of sugar. Stir the milk a little, then cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave it for 10 minutes.

When the milk mixture begins to foam, add the egg, the rest of the sugars, butter, lemon zest and salt. Mix with a large spoon or on the mixer with a dough hook, until the dough comes together to form a ball. Add a little more flour, if needed.

Knead the dough until a soft, smooth ball can be formed. Grease or oil the ball, place in a small container and let rise, covered, for 20 minutes or so. The dough will not be appreciably risen.

Flour a cutting board lightly and pat the dough into a rectangle. Roll out to 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. Using a pizza cutter or bench knife, if possible, cut the dough into rectangles (or diamonds) roughly 1 inch by 1 1/2 inches large (2 by 3 centimeters).

Heat 2 inches of oil in a stock pan or other large, deep saucepan. There should be another 2 inches of clearance over that.

If you are using a deep fat fryer, follow manufacturer's instructions. The oil should be heated to 365°F.

Fry the donuts in 4 - 5 batches for about 3 minutes. Turn them once half way, when the underside turns golden brown. Remove from hot fat and drain on paper towels or brown paper (grocery bag paper).

Sift powdered sugar over the top and eat while still warm.

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