A Coalcracker in the Kitchen

Known as “Fat Tuesday” in many places, in Pa Dutch country and the Coal Region it is know as “Fasnacht Day” or “Donut Day” — it occurs on Shrove Tuesday, which begins the traditional 40-day period of fasting and prayer practiced by Christians prior to Easter (famously celebrated as Mardi Gras, the term for Fat Tuesday in French, in New Orleans.)

The word Fastnacht originates from the German words “fast,” which is the shortened version of the verb “fasten,” which means “to fast,” and “nacht,” meaning night, indicating the eve of the traditional Lenten fasting.

In Pa. Dutch country, we celebrate by indulging in eating this deep-fried fasnacht (donut) for good luck and,  traditionally, to clear the animal fat out of the pantry before Lent begins. Fasnachts are made using all remaining supplies of lard, sugar, fat or butter, which were not to be eaten during Lent.

Although every cook has their favorite — and often generations-old — recipe, fasnachts are often made using mashed potatoes. Some are round. Some are square. Some have holes in the middle. Some are yeast raised, others use baking powder as the leavening in the recipe. They can be plain, glazed, or covered in powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar.

Throughout the Coal Region churches, fire companies, schools, scout troops and other organizations sell dozens of fasnachts as a fund-raising opportunity. Many organizations gather volunteers who make their own, often turning out hundreds or thousands of dozen which then get picked up or delivered to those who have placed advanced orders. Many times, these tasty treats will be sold out quickly, so if you have a favorite fasnacht source, always place a timely order!

Many local coal region bakeries sell tremendous numbers of donuts on Fasnacht Day directly to customers through their shops in addition to being the source for many groups who sell the donuts to raise funds but who do not make their own.

This version uses both mashed potatoes and yeast so it will require some rise and wait time when prepping. If you would like a version made with baking soda which works up faster, I suggest using my Crullers recipe from this site.

Read the whole article and find the recipe on A Coalcraker in the Kitchen