From the Klammstüberl in Leutasch: Sonja’s Kiachl recipe
Thick clouds of fog still hang around the Leutasch Geisterklamm (ghost gorge) when we reach the small Klammstüberl at the entrance to the steep gorge. Despite the early hour, the two innkeepers Sonja and Hansjörg are already busy at work, because today they are baking fresh Kiachl (traditional Tyrolean donuts). Sonja’s Kiachl are known far and beyond the region’s borders – formerly at the Hämmermoosalm in the Gaistal, today at the Klammstüberl at the other end of the long Leutasch valley. With the serious advantage that you don’t have to climb an alpine pasture to enjoy the best Kiachl in the region. And just before the end of the summer season, Sonja can even invite us into her small Klammkuchl (kitchen) to look over her shoulder as she bakes her famous kiachl.
Innkeepers with heart and soul
Hansjörg waves from afar, yelling a heartfelt greeting. Visiting the two always feels a bit like grandma and grandpa, that’s how warmly you are welcomed here. And indeed, after the Hämmermoosalm, the two tried their hand at a well-deserved retirement. Sonja even endured a whole winter season, Hansjörg laughs from ear to ear and invites us into the cosy Stubn (parlour). Sonja already busy in the kitchen, knocking the flour dust out of her apron. She sometimes misses the big mixer from the Hämmermoosalm here, she laughs, holding up the small hand mixer. In front of her stands a massive bowl of yeast dough, smelling wonderfully tempting. Sonja briefly explains the recipe, then we are invited to help shape and bake the Kiachl ourselves.
The Leutasch Kiachl from Klammstüberl
50 dag (500g) flour, stiff
½ cube yeast (approx. 21g, you can also use ½ pack of dry yeast)
2 fresh free-range eggs
1 pinch of salt
2 dag (20g) soft organic butter
approx. ¼ l (250ml) lukewarm organic fresh milk
1 tbsp rum (or rum flavouring)
As with any genuine Tyrolean yeast dough, the Dampfl (“steamer”) is first prepared with a little yeast, milk, flour and possibly a pinch of sugar – a creamy pre-dough to “wake up” the yeast. When the Dampfl starts to bubble after about half an hour in a warm, windless place, the rest follows: Stir in the lukewarm milk, the beaten eggs, the melted and cooled butter as well as the sip of rum, then beat with flour and salt to a medium-firm dough. Now cover the dough and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 25 to 30 minutes. Then cut out pieces of dough with a spoon, shape into balls and let them rest covered on a floured board for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Now stretch the Kiachl into shape: Gently pull the prepared pieces of dough apart so that the dough becomes thin in the middle and remains thick and airy at the edges. A little tip from the Klammkuchl: In the past, you simply just pulled the kiachl over your naked knee. Afterwards fry the Kiachl (first with the top side down) in hot clarified butter until golden brown. Drain well and serve with a ladle of Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) or cranberries with icing sugar. If you don’t bake the kiachl all the way through, you can also freeze and bake them straight from the ice if needed.
A Little Tyrolean Kiachl History
During our baking lesson together, Sonja naturally knows all sorts of interesting facts about the traditional Tyrolean pastry: In the past, the Kiachl were served as a side dish with almost everything. They are not only quicker and cheaper to prepare than sourdough bread, but also particularly filling for the demanding day’s work in the mountains. The Kiachl with Sauerkraut is also particularly typical for the provincial capital of Innsbruck, the former stronghold of the Tyrolean cabbage farmers. The rest has long been history in Leutasch too, Sonja smiles and loads us up with a good ladle of Sauerkraut. And for dessert, another one with Grantn (wild cranberry jam) and icing sugar – luckily there are two of us.
The last Leutasch Kiachl baker
By the way, Sonja revealed her legendary Kiachl recipe for a good reason: In Leutasch, she has long been one of the last to list the traditional Kiachl on the regular menu. But it is precisely in the wintertime that the Kiachl are particularly popular in Tyrol. Unfortunately exactly when the small Leutasch Klammstüberl and Sonja’s Kiachl-bakery are closed. But if you make a big secret out of a good recipe, you won’t eat a good Kiachl anywhere else, winks grandma Sonja knowingly. And because real Kiachl-art tastes above all like a lot of love, it’s best to learn it directly from your grandma in Leutasch. We can now practice until the beginning of May, when the Klammstüberl opens again, Hansjörg smiles over his coffee. Because until then, you will only find fresh Kiachl at the Seefeld Christmas market – or, just like Sonja, simply make them yourself.