Fastnacht Day

Fastnacht Day


By Donna Godfrey

Fastnacht Day is a special Pennsylvania Dutch tradition that falls on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). The tradition is to eat the very best (and maybe the most) before the Lenten fast. Therefore, doughnuts. In my childhood, I recall Fastnachts. This recipe is more traditional (or so they tell me). The lard called for may be replaced with vegetable oil.

This was a favorite of my 3 Aunties. We all went there for a wonderful supply of these for breakfast. They would be up very early so that we could come before school. I do not know how they made so many because we all had a sack to take to school or work.

My dad just called this morning to tell me he misses his cook(me because mom hated cooking) and I carried on the tradition for him. I would go from where we lived in Florida...a 2 hour trip one way to take them to him in Sarasota or we would go the night before and make them early in the morning so he could take them to work...he was a realtor.....they loved these at his work too. This is there recipe and I am adding one that I have made also.

The "proper" PA. Dutch way to eat a fastnacht is to slice through center (as you would a bagel) and spread with molasses(King Syrup) or "Turkey Brand" syrup. Some prefer to also spread with butter first.

FASTNACHTS

MAKES 2-1/2 DOZEN

2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm



1/3 cup lard (or vegetable oil)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 pkg. dry yeast, dissolved in 1/2 cup lukewarm water

All-purpose unbleached flour to stiffen, about 3 pounds

Mix together all ingredients except flour. Gradually add flour, stirring well, using spoon until too thick. Then use hands and start kneading, gradually adding more flour until no longer sticky. Cover with wet cloth and let rise in warm place for about 4 hours.

Roll dough on floured board to 1/2 to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into rectangles about 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches. Make hole in center. Place on floured board and let rise about 1 hour.

Deep fry in lard or vegetable oil at 360° until golden brown. Flip to other side and brown. Drain on paper towels. (Recipe can easily be doubled)

They would mix powered sugar with a bit of nutmeg. Dust with powdered sugar while still warm.

Fastnachts

This one came from a mother that Nicole stayed with in Germany when she was an exchange student.

Yields: 12 Doughnuts

1 Envelope Dry Yeast Salt

1 Cup Warm Water

3 Eggs, Beaten

1/2 Cup Flour

4 Tbls Butter

5 1/2 Cups Flour

1 Pinch Nutmeg

2 Cups Whole Milk

Granulated Sugar

1 Tbls. Sugar

1/2 Cup Sugar

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the first measure of flour to the yeast. Stir until smooth. Add the milk. Stir in the first measure of sugar and half of the second measure of flour. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled.

Stir in the salt, eggs, butter, the second measure of sugar, the nutmeg and sufficient additional flour to make a firm dough. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down. Roll out on a floured board. Cut into squares. Set on a floured board. Let rise.

Preheat the oil in the deep fryer. Deep fry the Fastnachts until light and golden. Drain on paper towels. Roll in granulated sugar while still warm.

About the author

Donna had the privilege of growing up in a Mennonite family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is married and lives in Georgia. Donna has 3 children and 3 grandchildren. She also writes a Column called Cooking with Don, which you can sign up for here and another list called Sites for Learning

 

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