Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Fat Tuesday! Fastnachts. PA German Tradition

Once a year, on the Tuesday before Lent, known as Fat Tuesday, traditionally the Pennsylvania Dutch woman would make fastnachts to use up all the fat and lard in the house. Fastnacht is translated from German to mean 'night before the fast'. You might also see it spelled faschnacht, fosnot, fosnaught, fausnaught.
Churches in the area and even supermarkets have been making these little fat cakes as fast as they can to meet the demand for this heavily fried delicious little doughnut like staple. You can find them plain, sugared, or dusted with confectioner's sugar. Here in Central PA, we are fortunate to be the recipients of some homemade fastnachts shared with us by family friends.
You can find many recipes on the Internet, made with either baking powder or mashed potatoes. Follow this Wikipedia link to find a few variations on the traditional recipe. However you enjoy your fastnachts, we suggest a piping hot mug of tea to accompany this special once-a-year treat.
Special thanks to Matt H. for sharing his recipe with us: (and an even bigger thanks for sharing the already deep fried fastnachts with us this morning!)
2½ cups hot mashed potatoes 
1 cup milk
3 beaten eggs
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 cups sugar
5 cups flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder 
(Note: I used King Arthur self rising flour and omitted the baking powder)

Mix everything together except flour. Mix flour in slowly (one cup or so at a time).
Divide the dough in half or thirds. Roll to 1/4 to ½ inch thick. Cut with a donut cutter or use a knife to cut into triangular shaped pieces. Deep fry in hot fat or oil (between 325 and 350 degrees--use a thermometer-- keep a lid for the pan handy in case it catches fire, and keep water far away from hot oil) until done. 
Coat with powdered sugar, if desired, by shaking in a paper bag filled with a generous amount of confectioners sugar.
(This post is a reprise from 2015. The recipe still stands as tried and true! Thanks again, Matt!)


Marilyn Miller said...

YUMMMM! How I would enjoy one right now. They sound delicious!

relevanttealeaf said...

I loved reading about this German tradition. In my area, the Polish Paczki is the Fat Tuesday tradition.