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Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors


Schmerkipfel (Shmare-kip-fel) – Danish Pastry

From the Kitchen of Anne Dreer, 01 Mar 2008

Comment:  Schmerkipfel where originally made from the abdominal lard of pigs, sometimes referred to as leaf lard. It is more tender than regular lard, thus suitable for delicate pastry. When all the butchering work was done, and the meat was processed into sausages, hams, bacon and the regular lard was rendered for cooking, it was then the Donauschwaben housewife had time to make Schmerkipfel.  When no leaf lard was available the Kipfel were made

with butter; thus referred to as Butterkipfel. The leaf lard ones were lighter and puffier. I find Crisco® shortening works great and is easier to work with than butter.

  • ¾ cup lukewarm water

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 2 packages yeast

  • 5½ cups all purpose flour

  • 1¼ cups sugar

  • 4 egg yolks

  • Grated lemon rind from one lemon (approx.)

  • 2¼ cups lukewarm milk

  • 1½ teaspoons salt

  • 1 lb. Crisco OR 1 lb. cool (not cold) room temperature butter

  • ½ cup flour

A large jar of pure apricot jam, without pectin if possible. Jam that has too much pectin will melt from the heat and run out of the kipfel. Kraft® or Smucker® brands are good. 


Soak the yeast with the sugar and lukewarm water in a small bowl. Set aside. 

Coat the Crisco with the ½ cup flour and flatten it into a rectangle about seven by ten inches. This may be done on the paper it was wrapped in. It should be even in thickness.

When the yeast is dissolved and bubbly, mix it with the lukewarm milk, flour, sugar, egg yolks, lemon rind, and salt. By hand work it together to make a smooth dough. Use the mixer if you have a dough hook. If not, let it sit for five or ten minutes and knead it until it comes off the sides of the bowl.  

Dust the dough board with flour and roll out the dough evenly to form a rectangle double the size of the flattened Crisco.

Put the Crisco on one half of the dough and fold the other side over it.

Pinch the edges together.

Turn the dough clockwise so the long pinched side is towards and parallel to the edge of the board. Cover it with a clean dishtowel and let it rest for about 10 minutes.  Keep the board dusted with flour. 

Roll it out again into a rectangle from the center to the edges—about 22 by 12 inches. Press the rolling pin down slightly so the Crisco in between gets rolled all the way to the edges. Make the corners of the dough as ‘square’ as you can (not rounded).

If some of the fat comes out pinch some dough over it.  Do not stretch the dough. Carefully fold the right third of the dough toward the center, then the left side over it to make it triple thick.

You have now done one turn. Repeat three more times, letting the dough rest, covered, in between. It may be necessary to roll it into a larger rectangle as it will keep getting puffier as the dough rises from the yeast.

Turn the dough clockwise one quarter turn so the long side is again along the edge of the board. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. Sometimes it is a good idea to roll it out and wait a few minutes before folding it as it will also get stretchier. 

Cut a narrow strip off edges first.
This will be used for Danishes when all kipfel are done.

After the final turn have your baking sheets and the jam ready.  Roll the dough out to a half inch thickness. It will be quite a large rectangle.  Cover it and wait a few minutes or else it will shrink as you cut it. 

Heat your knife on the stove burner and cut 3 inch strips, reheating the knife as necessary.

Cut the strips into squares. Put ½ teaspoon jam on each square, fold into a triangle.

Put ½ teaspoon jam on each square, fold into a triangle, then pull the opposing triangles back and pinch them  together. Try not to touch the cut edges. That would disturb the layers that are supposed to puff up like a harmonica. Brush the tops with egg white, carefully not getting any on the cut edges (that would make them stick together.)

  • Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees (check after 10 to 15 minutes) until golden brown.

  • Use the edge strips to make a few Danishes. Twist them, and then form a coil. Dot centre with jam and bake.

  • Dust with vanilla flavoured icing sugar.

They’re best when warm. They freeze well and are best when reheated in the oven (they stay crisp). The microwave makes them a little soft.

[Edited by Rose Mary Keller Hughes, Recipe Coordinator. Published at DVHH by Jody McKim Pharr, 01 Mar 2008]



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