Doughnut Day aka Fastnacht Day

This Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday…the last day before Lent. When you live in Pennsylvania Dutch(Pennsylvania German) country, this translates to Fastnacht Day aka Doughnut Day. Historically, the fastnachts were made to use up the rich foods left in the house before the Lenten diet would begin(fats, sugar, rich foods). Shrove Tuesday is also known as Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras. I understand that in other areas of the country and world, Shrove Tuesday is known for pancakes.
A lot of the churches in my area make the fastnachts made with mashed potatoes. These fastnachts aren’t very sweet, are square and are usually dunked in coffee.
Being a baker’s kid, Doughnut Day was a busy one. My dad started really early(shortly after midnight) and did nothing but make bread and doughnuts on that day. We all helped sugar, glaze and powder the doughnuts and also filling the orders. I always smelled like a doughnut on that day in school…people were always commenting on how my hair smelled like a doughnut! He made the yeast dough, not the potato. There would be the glazed, powdered sugar, granulated sugar and filled doughnuts(filled with custard cream, Bavarian cream, strawberry, raspberry, lemon).
He usually worked 12 hours on doughnuts that day at least and we usually closed early that day because we would be sold out.
I went on Wikipedia and found three different recipes for Fastnachts…in case you may be tempted to try your hand at fastnachts this year!

Recipe #1:Fastnachts with baking powder

3-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon ground mace (can use nutmeg) 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening (use lard if you can get it) 1 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs, beaten 1 cup milk vegetable or canola oil for frying, about 2 quarts

Place the flour, baking powder, salt and mace in a medium bowl. Stir with a wire whisk to combine. Set aside. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until creamy. Gradually add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, mixing on low speed, just until well-combined. Place on a floured board. Work the dough lightly with hands, adding a little more flour as needed if it is too sticky. (This dough should be very soft, something like a biscuit dough, so don’t add more flour than necessary.) Gently roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle or square. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2-inch squares or similarly sized rectangles. Heat the oil in a deep-sided pot over medium heat to 375°F. Carefully add the fastnachts to the oil, about 6 per batch, and fry until well-browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side for another 2 or 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining fastnachts.[6]

Recipe #2: Fastnachts with Yeast

2 cups scalded milk, ½ cup lard, 1 cup mashed potatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, ¾ cup sugar, 2 well beaten eggs, 1 package yeast, 7 cups flour, approximately

Scald milk and add mashed potatoes, sugar, salt, and lard. Cool until lukewarm. Add eggs. Add yeast and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead well and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rise about 1½ hours. Roll ¼ inch thick on a floured board. Place on a cloth and let rise until doubled in size and fry in hot fat.[7]

Recipe #3: Fastnachts with potatoes and yeast

2 1/2 c. hot mashed potatoes 1 cup milk 3 beaten eggs 2 Tablespoons melted butter 2 cup sugar 2 Tablespoons Baking powder 5 cup all purpose flour

In a large bowl combine all ingredients, but add flour slowly. Divide dough in half and roll to 1/2″ thickness. Cut with doughnut cutter. Fry in deep fat or oil, turning when brown. Drain on paper towels and let cool.[8]


Happy Doughnut Day! til next time…Eva


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