Zillertal farmers used to gather together on Saturday evening to eat doughnuts. This is how Evi Kreidl tells it. We thought that this traditional deserves to be revived. This is why we offer Zillertal doughnuts every Wednesday with advanced order in our toque-awarded restaurant "HeLeni". We can assure you that our doughnuts taste just like the original.
Decades ago, there were still many farmers, who filled the community with life. What mattered the most to them was being there for one another, creating something together, and providing help to neighbors. Hedwig Stock was the district farmer when I was young, and she offered a doughnut baking course at that time. Ten to twelve women came together in order to understand traditional Zillertal cuisine and learn the recipes. Cooking is an opportunity to feel connected with nature and directly make use of treasures from the forest and pastures. You only have to step outside the door to gather the ingredients.
It sounds pretty simple, but the trick is in the details. Zillertal doughnuts are very delicate. First, you must press and finely mash the potatoes. It is best to prepare all the ingredients so that they are within reach, for ex. grey cheese or cottage cheese and plenty of chives and salt. The secret of a tasty doughnut lies in its thinness. The key is that it doesn't absorb too much fat. The rolling pin plays an important role in forming the shape. It has a slight curve to make the sheets of dough round. The rolling pin can be made of all kinds of wood. We mostly use walnut.
Be careful! If the doughnuts are made too tough, they can taste dry, and if they are too soft, the dough sticks together. Then, they are missing their character all together; they must be crisp. This is something that takes practice like most things in life. I put 4 to 5 sheets of dough on top of each other and sprinkle flour in between. Make sure to cover them so they don't dry out! We say you need "Foachtl", which means great skill or talent! The grey cheese must of course be stored for a long time. The doughnuts are a maximum of 10 centimeters long and should be eaten fresh from the pan. And a glass of buttermilk goes perfectly with a plate of doughnuts.
The chefs at the HeLeni also know that too now. When I invited Christina from the ZillerSeasons to eat doughnuts, I was not aware that I aroused such interest in them. You can imagine how it feels to teach a toque-awarded chef a recipe. Should I give a tap on his hand if he does something wrong?! I didn't think that was the best idea. In autumn 2018, we held a cooking course for the chefs at the HeLeni, and now, Zillertal doughnuts are on the menu every Wednesday! Marcus Duchardt and Mario Herrmann were wonderfully curious "apprentices"! I think it's a great idea when a hotel becomes a place of exchange. It is a touching experience to teach others recipes and see how they enjoy the food. It is also a tradition that these old recipes are carried on and passed down... perhaps with a few variations or additions but essentially as it was 100 years ago.
There are still a number of specialties from the Zillertal such as "Zerggl" or "Beder" that are made with pressed dumplings. There was once a guest in Mayrhofen who got up to go to the restroom but found himself standing in front of the kitchen mesmerized by the delicious creations. I can also think of dishes such as "Holzknechtkrapfen" (lumberjack doughnuts) or "Zillertal Schliachtanudeln", which are prepared with homemade ribbon noodles. And don't even get me started on sweet treats. A favorite is the "Kloatzen", which is our word for dried pears. You can use them to make bread or even desserts.
In the Zillertal, we have many festivals where you can find Zillertal doughnuts and many other specialties from our home region. When eating, you are connected to nature - that's the way it should be. You can enjoy a glass of buttermilk with it, or on special occasions like Christmas, cream was poured over the doughnuts. Today, it's hard to imagine how many mills there were in the Zillerltal, and hundreds of farmers ran them. It was always said "you must eat doughnuts so that you can grow strong", and I haven't stopped yet.
Dough: 1/2 kg rye flour (as an alternative, half of it can be replaced with wheat flour, and the doughnuts will be lighter and softer), ca. 1/4 l water, salt
Filling: 1/4 kg cottage cheese and grey cheese, 4 larger boiled potatoes, fresh chives, salt
Baking: use plenty of clarified butter. The doughnuts are fried in clarified butter.
The avid cook and senior citizen is familiar with many specialties from the Zillertal. The dishes are hearty and the combination of ingredients is clever. In earlier times, it was important to have enough calories for the day for the strenuous work in the field and mountains. This is why she knows that Zillertal doughnuts are a special treat and not a daily dish.