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Kekle: An Old Twist on the Donut

Since this is my first post, why not start with one of my favorite heritage recipes?

I'm talking about Kekle ('KEE Cleh') which is how my family spelled it, but you may see it spelled as Kuechle or some other variation. This is 'Grandma Werner's" recipe (my dad's mom) which my mother continues to make when family gathers. In fact, we just devoured several batches as my sisters and I gathered our families at Mom and Dad's over the 4th of July.

If you snooze you lose! They go fast.

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Kekle translates to 'little cake ' and has a texture very similar to a cake donut.  What's unique about kekle is it's shape - it is prepared as a slitted fry bread with a twist - perfect for pulling apart and dunking in a little powdered sugar!

Kekle is different from recipes you may see with a similar name. There is 'Fleisch Kuechle' (fleisch meaning meat in German) - a traditional Midwestern German dish that is basically a homemade hot pocket (typically ground beef and onion in a flaky half moon of fried dough).

There's also 'Fasnacht Kuechle' (fasnacht meaning 'fast night', the night before Lent or Carnival when it is traditionally use up all that sugar before Lent!). These are very common here in the Pennsylvania Dutch area. However, fasnacht kuechle are made with yeast rather than baking powder as leavening so are quite a bit lighter in texture (although not as light as the 'oh-my-God I could eat a plateful' New Orleans beignets).

I did learn from my parents that my grandmother originally made her version of Kekle as a 'Fastnacht' dessert. But it became too popular and once a year just wasn't enough!

My mother-in-law and my husband's cousin, Gertrud, happened to be here from Germany while I was making these so it was a great opportunity to see if the recipe was familiar to them. It was a nice surprise to find out Gertrud's grandmother made them as well and in a similar shape!

Searching the web, I haven't seen anything similar to our family's recipe so I thought this would make a great first post. If anyone recognizes it and has a similar recipe or tip to share, would love to hear from you.

So let me show you how it's done!

2015-08-15 10.44.24Ingredients
9 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. milk + 1/2 c. cream
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. nutmeg
8 tsp. baking powder
8 c. flour (set aside ~ 2 c. more for mixing)

Beat the eggs and sugar together in a large mixing bowl just until sugar is dissolved.

In a separate container, warm the milk and cream together (I use a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup and microwave on half power for a minute or two).

Add the milk and cream mixture along with the vanilla into the sugar and eggs.

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In a separate bowl, add the baking powder, salt, and nutmeg to the flour and evenly distribute.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, letting it come together into a sticky dough.


Keep adding flour until you have a soft dough you can work without it sticking to your fingers.  I end up adding ~ 2 more cups flour.   The dough should be very soft and pliable.

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Split the dough in half.  Making sure your surface is well floured,  roll out the dough. Flip the dough over as you roll it out to make sure it's not sticking to the counter as it thins out.

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I use a pizza cutter to then cut 2" x 4" strips.  My mother and grandmother both made them a little bit longer (2" x 6"), but I prefer them a little shorter.

(Caveat: my countertop is Dekton, which is pretty much indestructible.  Be careful using a pizza cutter if your surface is something that can scratch.)

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Within each rectangle, make a slit that leaves about an inch of dough on each end.  Take one end of the dough and thread it thru the slit to make a 'twist' in the dough.

I also make some rectangles with 2 slits (no twists) just for variety.


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Drop the dough into hot oil (on med to med high heat).  Turn over when sides are browned.  Don't let them sit too long  - aim for a light golden color. Take out and allow to drain on paper towels.

Work in batches with the remaining pieces and then repeat again with the second  batch of dough.

You can sprinkle them right away with powdered sugar if desired.  Our family likes to leave plain and everyone has their favorite thing to 'dunk' them in....a small bowl of powdered sugar, fresh soft butter (my favorite), or a little jelly to go along with morning coffee!



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3 thoughts on “Kekle: An Old Twist on the Donut

  1. Pingback: Sauerkraut and ‘Nifla’ |

  2. Terry Koebel

    As a child I had a friend whose parents were from Poland. One year we helped her Mom make what she called( I know I will not spell it right) Kruschiski. It seems very similar to your recipe. I was to young at the time to care about her recipe but my friend and I did the twist part her slit was shorter and the strips were about 1 1/2 x 5 or 6 inches and she covered them with powdered sugar.


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