I grew up, and still live in Central Pennsylvania. Each year, on the Tuesday before Lent, people in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, who are largely German American, celebrate Fasnacht Day. Also known as Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, Fasnacht Day is the tradition of using up the fat in your house before the Lenten season begins. When I was a kid, it was an excuse to eat a doughnut, which is basically what a Fasnacht is. Being a person of tradition, I jumped right on board with the celebration when my kids were little and we would spend that morning making our own Fasnachts. We did it the easy way. I bought refrigerator biscuits and they would roll them out and cut a hole in the center. We would fry them in oil and they would each have their own little plate of "Fasnachts". It was a tradition we all enjoyed.This year, for some reason, I decided it would be fun to make actual Fasnachts from scratch so I did some research and found a recipe. My experience was interesting. It was not a difficult process but it was a little time consuming. I'll show you what I did.
The ingredient list is simple but I had to get past the fact that you use lard and/or oil. Just reading that part of the recipe had me running toward the treadmill. Then I remembered that's what "Fat Tuesday" is all about, and I kept going.
- 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
- 1/3 cup lard or vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 1 package dry yeast, dissolved in the water
- 3 lbs unbleached, all-purpose flour (to stiffen)
- Mix together all ingredients except flour.
- Gradually add flour, stirring well using spoon, until too thick.
- Using hands, start kneading, gradually adding more flour until no longer sticky.
- Cover with a wet cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 4 hours.
- Roll dough on a 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 (optional)
- Place on floured board and let rise about 1 hour.
- Deep fry in lard or vegetable oil at 360 degrees until golden brown.
- Flip to other side and brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
As you can see, making Fasnachts is not a quick process, at least not with this recipe. I'm glad I tried them. It was fun and I definitely learned a few things. I'll try anything once, and in this case, only once. I prefer to hang onto the memories of making the simple version with my kids. That's what it's really about. Tradition and celebrating the little things!
Enjoy the day!