Every Christmas when I was little, we would go to my Grandma Sievers’ house for dinner. In the afternoon, while all us cousins played Caroms, Grandma would go out to the back porch and retrieve a big blue granite roasting pan. Golden treasures were hidden inside for our traditional treat. She would put the fudgens in a brown paper bag and put them in the oven to warm. We could smell the sweet cardamom and raisins as they heated up. Coffee was poured for the adults and we each got a little bowl of sugar to dip them in. You would take a bite of the warm fried dough glob and then dip it in the sugar, so there was sugar in every bite. Dropping the soft dough with a large spoon into the hot grease always created some pretty interesting shapes. The ones with long legs and wispy crunchy dough were the best! I have asked several people if they have ever heard of fudgens and have not found anyone yet. Have you ever had them? This side of the family is of German heritage, and I suspect that was the source…a long holiday history. A google search came up with “Fudgen” as a last name, so perhaps they were named after a bakery or family.
My Grandma had a “Fudgen making day” with her daughter and daughters-in-law many years ago and my mother in turn taught me the art of making Fudgens. Now, with both of them gone, it’s my job to carry on the tradition to make the annual fudgens for my family. One day in the future I will have “fudgen making day” for my daughter-in-law to learn the tricks so the Christmas sugar dipping dough will not die!
Prep time: 2 hours
2 cups milk
1 cup all purpose flour
Whisk 2 cups milk and 1 cup flour together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Scrape into a large bowl.
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup butter to the milk mixture. Beat until cool to the touch.
Making the dough
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/3 cup water
4 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
1 cup raisins
Dissolve 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast in 1/3 cup water. Add to the dough and beat until incorporated. Beat in one egg at a time (4 total) until smooth. Slowly add 4 cups flour, making a soft dough. Stir in 1 cup raisins. Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour. Stir down and let rise again, about 30 minutes.
Frying the fudgens
1 quart canola oil
Heat 1 quart oil in a deep pot to 350 degrees, using a candy thermometer. Dip a spoon in the oil and then into the dough, so the dough will not stick to the spoon. Drop spoonfuls of dough into the hot oil, continuing to dip in the oil each time between scooping up some dough. Do not overcrowd the oil, frying 5-6 at a time. Fry until golden, turning occasionally so they cook evenly. Make sure the oil does not get too hot, or they will brown too quickly and not be done in the middle. Drain on a rack. Repeat until all the dough is used. Have the sugar ready for a wonderful holiday treat.
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