Want to eat a Berliner in Berlin? Doughnuts may seem like an all-American treat, but you can easily find samples of Kennedy's infamous jelly doughnut in Germany's capital. Although the urban legend around his "Ich bin ein Berliner" story is actually false—Berlin residents do call themselves Berliners—the fried pastry has been traced back to indulging Germans since the 15th century. Today they are often enjoyed on New Year's Eve and during Carnival, where a common practical joke is to hide a mustard-filled doughnut in a mix of jelly delights.
Like many confusing things in Germany, the name for doughnut varies throughout the country; it's kreppel in Frankfurt, krapfen in the South, a Berliner in West Germany, and pfannkuchen in Berlin. All the names refer to the same pastry, sweet, yeasted dough, deep-fried and filled. The most traditional in Berlin is pflaume, sugar-dusted and plum jelly-filled, as well the glazed versions with marmalade. Some shops sell variations, including chocolate, lemon, or vanilla fillings, and French crullers are also quite popular here.
While you can find them at nearly every bäckerei, corner store, and train station, including an unfortunate proliferation of Dunkin' Donuts, we suggest skipping the tourist stands. Instead try these five family-run bakeries, a true step above the rest. Head out early to snatch up the freshest dough and get ready for the sugar coma to set in.
About the author: Katherine Sacks is a Berlin-based food writer and editor eating her way through anything and everything German. Follow her adventures at katherinesacks.com or Twitter @LaVitaCucinare.