Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fastnacht Day - our donut experiment

Yesterday was  "Fastnacht Day, also known as Fat Tuesday. Traditionally, fastnachts were made by Pennsylvania Dutch housewives on Fat Tuesday to use up all the fat in the house before Lent. "Fastnacht" is a German word meaning "night before the fast." The heavy yeast-raised doughnuts are as much a part of the central Pennsylvania food landscape as chicken and waffles and whoopie pies."

...according the the article linked above. It went on to say how good Pennsylvanians know to order their Fastnachts early from local bakeries and churches... :( unless you've left the PA Dutch country behind. In our area, the only Fat Tuesday tradition catching on is the baking of Mardi Gras King Cakes. Something I'm not really all that attached to. I like a good donut. I had planned to make some yesterday on the actual day, but I was sick.

Thank the Lord I'm feeling much better today, so I celebrated by making LOTs of the fried treats and consuming them. Yes, I may be sick again. lol.

Here's a good recipe. I changed it up a bit - mostly I'm not one for many risings, so I mixed it all up and let it rise once.

Here's the reworked version:


  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying


  1. In a small bowl, proof yeast with first three ingredients. 
  2. scald the milk and let cool, add melted butter.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the teaspoon of sugar and 3 cups of the flour. Stir in milk and butter until smooth. Add proofed yeast and mix well. Stir in beaten eggs, one cup of sugar, salt, and enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Cover and let rise ina warm place until doubled.
  4. Punch down dough and divide into 2 portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut dough with a canning jar band (or biscuit cutter). poke a hold in each one and stretch a little. Let rise again for 20 minutes.
  5. Deep fat fry in small batches in canola oil flipping once to make sure each side is lightly browned. If you do this in a large skillet with about 1.5" of oil in i t, you should be able to fry 5 at a time... it goes quite fast. 
  6. Drain on brown paper bags. Toss in confectioners sugar while still warm.

who needs a biscuit cutter when you have scads of jar rings?
We tested the theory, and they really do fry best with a hole in the middle. Just poke one with your fingers and stretch it some.
Hubby also joined in the fun and helped with the frying. He's very talented at such things. :) 
I tend to burn myself.
After the cooled a few seconds, we tossed some in a bag with cinnamon sugar, the rest we glazed with a butter glaze. (Hubby made it, VERY yummy!)

It was well worth the work, and they are almost completely gone.

What do you do to celebrate the beginning of Lent? Do you celebrate Lent? Do you give anything up?

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