Friday, November 17, 2017

Time to Make the Fastnachts

This week, the holiday baking started. First cinnamon rolls, made with a secret ingredient (a cooked and riced potato) which makes them extra fluffy (and even though the frosting melted when I reheated one in the microwave today, SOOO good).

Then lefse, which is a thin Scandinavian soft flatbread also made with flour potato and finally, a typical Lenton dish that we enjoy during the winter holiday season (because they are just SO good on a cold day with a mug of coffee).

First some history. . .
In Pamplona, there is the Running of the Bulls, but in England there is the slightly less lethal Running with the Stack.

This Running with the Stack (actually known as Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day)dates from medieval times, originally celebrated by coveys of apron-clad women racing each other through the streets flipping flapjacks high in the air at least three times as they head for the finish line at the church door.

The vicar decided the winner and awarded the prize, a prayer book. The church bell then signaled the start of this Shrove Tuesday festival, which originated to use up all the butter and eggs before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, with itts look inward and abstinence from meat and other rich foods  It was a fitting end to cold dreary February, a month so dull the Romans only gave it 28 days
One popular pre Lenten dish of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the Beignet.  It's good, but in my household during BOTH Lenten and Christmas holidays the pastry of choice is the Fastnacht.

The recipes and spelling of the dish may vary slightly but you do NOT want to call them donuts in Pennsylvania  Deitsch country. They may or may not have a hole or a slit in the center, but I add one, so my slightly larger sized ones cook completely in the center. But in holding with tradition, they are cut into squares, to represent the four gospels in the Bible.
You can sometimes find these at bake sales around Lenthh in Pennsylvania Dutch country but the rest of the year you are out of luck, unless you are brave enough to make your own.  Which I did.

However,  I avoided running, as a English/Scot/Swedish /Jewish (you think Abby Lab's pedigree is unusual?) Shieldmaiden with a plateful of hot fried Fastnachts is not a sight for amateurs.
Pennsylvania  Fastnachts

1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed potato (don't add anything to it, just the potatoes)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup lard
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of Cardamom  (Optional)
2 packs yeast
1/2 cup warm water (use the warm potato water) plus 1/2 cup milk
5 cups flour

Cook 2-3 peeled chunked potatoes in water until soft.  Set aside potato water. Lightly mash potato and measure out 1 cup, reserving any leftover for another use.

Heat milk until scalded (just bubbling around the edges) and add cooled potato water (you want the mixture warm but not hot).

Add yeast to the warm liquid and stir until dissolved.

Cream the sugar, butter, and lard, and then beat that into the mashed potatoes on low, adding in eggs, salt, vanilla, and nutmeg. Beat in yeast mixture on medium until smooth and then, with a wooden spoon, beat in roughly 3 cups of the flour  Dump out onto a floured surface and knead in as much of the remaining flour as it takes (or not) so the dough is not sticky. Put in lightly greased bowl, cover with cloth and let rise until doubled.  Once doubled, roll out dough 1/2 inch thick, cut into squares and lay out on waxed paper about 2 inches apart and cover with a thin, clean towel.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour)

Heat additional lard  (you want it about 4 inches deep) to 365 degrees F. and gently add the Fastnachts to the hot fat with a wire spoon, so they do not spatter. Fry until golden brown on both side, turning once. Drain on paper towel and brush with a glaze made of 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp of milk and a small splash of vanilla.  When cool enough to handle, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar and serve. Makes a couple dozen large ones.


  1. I am the world's worst baker - but gosh these look good and I'm tempted to give them a try!

  2. Mom is just drooling over all of your goodies. Can we all come over for a taste?

    Woos - Lightning, Misty, and Timber

    1. The Cinnamon Roll Recipe is on my LB Johnson facebook page.

  3. Your foodables look delicious!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley


Welcome to The Book of Barkley and the Blogville dog blogging community. This blog was created for more memories of Barkley as well as updates on Abby the Senior rescue Lab, who we adopted in 2014.

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