Happy Fastnacht Day! Hey, wait…what’s a fastnacht?

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 02/17, 2015 at 03:04 PM

Happy Fastnacht Day! Hey, wait…what’s a fastnacht?

Today is Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras. For many people who have grown up in a Pennsylvania Dutch area like myself (York), today is also known as Fastnacht Day.

Why Fastnacht Day? A fastnacht is a type of donut, made with potatoes, flour, sugar, yeast, and eggs. They are fried like a donut and while many are made today with a hole like a regular donut, a “traditional” fastnacht is hole-less and square.

The word fastnacht is German for “fast night” and the tradition of making them began as a way to get rid of lard, sugar, fat, and other stuff that are forbidden during lent. That way there were less temptations left in the pantry to lead hungry stomachs astray.

Fastnachts are not a light treat, as you can imagine. They are fried (traditionally in lard), and having had them, I can say they are pretty heavy. But they are very good.

While you can find them anywhere in southcentral and southeast Pennsylvania, up here in true central Pennsylvania they are harder to find. Weis and Giant used to have them, but I am not sure if they still do. You can make them, but they are difficult to make but are a fun weekend project even if you aren’t making them on their “proper” day. There are several recipes out there, but this one is pretty close to the traditional method: http://too-much-time.com/2013/04/pa-dutch-fastnachts-doughnuts.html

Some tips:

- Don’t knead the dough too much or else it will become tough.

- Make sure the oil is up to the right temperature or they will become extremely greasy.

- Do not fry to much, they can get hard and tough to eat.

- Powdered sugar is a great topping for them.

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick

Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA

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