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The Lutherans call these Fastnachts and are supposed to eat them on Shrove Tuesday; the Mennonites call them Raised Doughnuts and will eat them any time. They're wonderful, warm or cold, with maple syrup, or sprinkled with sugar

1 packet of yeast dissolved in
1/2 cup warm water with
1 tsp sugar

1 cup hot, mashed potatoes
1 cup sugar
1 cup water that the potatoes were boiled in (lukewarm)
1 cup all purpose flour

Mix potatoes, sugar, potato water and flour; add yeast dissolved in water. Let rise in a warm place for several hours.

Than add:

1 cup sugar
1 cup lukewarm water or milk
3/4 cup melted butter
3 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups sifted flour for stiff dough (about)

Mix all together, cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour or two—till the dough has doubled in size. Knead lightly, adding more flour to make a stiff dough. Now, according to all my instruction, you're supposed to let the dough rise again for another hour or two, but that means you'd be fussing with these things all day; figure it out; this would be its third rising, with another to come; I think at this point I'd be reckless and divide the dough in thirds and start rolling it out. What matters if you do have a few large holes in your fastnachts? Take your choice, rise or roll. I'd try rolling the dough to about ¾ inch thickness.

Fastnachts have a traditional diamond shape; cut them into diamonds with a knife. Another essential is to cut a slit across the top of each fastnacht with a sharp knife.

Let the fastnachts rise, covered, in a warm place, till they're springy to the touch; when they're quite fat and puffy, drop them with the raised side down into fat that is hot enough to brown a bread cube—375 degrees. If you don't want that many fried cakes you might try baking some in a hot oven as rolls.

Food that Really Schmecks


Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 25, 2004. In Pennsylvania Dutch country, Shrove Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent, is known as "Fastnacht Day." The Pennsylvania Dutch celebrate Shrove Tuesday by eating yeast raised potato doughnuts, which are lovingly known as a "Fastnachts."

The name "Fastnacht" is German for "Fast Night." Fastnacht Day is a day to forget about dieting and a slim waistline and feast on doughnuts! It's a custom that had its beginnings with the Plain People. Making Fastnachts helped to use up the fat and sugar they had on hand before the Lenten fast began.

Though doughnuts with holes are frequently sold in supermarkets this time of year as "Fastnachts," those who know their doughnuts, will tell you that a real Fastnacht should never have a hole in the center .... All the syrup leaks out of a Fastnacht with a hole in it!

To eat a Fastnacht the proper Pennsylvania Dutch way, slice it crosswise, as you would slice a bagel. Spread with butter (optional), plus table syrup such as "Mrs. Schlorers Turkey Syrup ®" or "Golden Barrel Table Syrup ®". Replace the top and ENJOY!

The recipe below is a combination of several Fastnacht recipes, including a handed down family recipe, and recipes from local Mennonite Church cookbooks. This version uses rapid rise yeast which cuts the preparation time considerably compared to most traditional recipes, and the Fastnachts turn out extra light and fluffy.



1 cup mashed potatoes (no salt, milk, or butter added)
2 cups milk
1/2 sugar + 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 stick margarine
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
6-1/2 cups flour (divided, 2 cups + 4 1/2 cups)
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 - 3 pound can Crisco® or similar vegetable shortening for frying

Scald the milk. In a large mixing bowl, combine the scalded milk with the mashed potatoes. Add 1/2 cup sugar plus the margarine. Mix with an electric mixer. If the mixture is still warm, cool to about room temperature before proceeding with next step. - Dissolve the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in barely warm water. Add to the potato mixture and mix well. Add 2 cups flour and mix again. Cover with a towel and let rise for 25 minutes.

Add salt and beaten egg to the mixture. Add 4-1/2 cups flour, stirring it into the mixture with a large spoon. Turn onto a well floured board and knead for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add a small amount of extra flour if necessary so the dough can be handled without sticking to your fingers. Grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the greased bowl. Cover with a thin towel, and let rise in a warm, draft free place for about 2 hours or until it is at least double in size.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough 3/4" thick. You can use a doughnut cutter to cut the dough or cut as typical Fastnachts - Cut the dough into 3" to 4" wide strips, then cut the strips into 3" to 4" pieces. Use a sharp paring knife to cut a small slit in the center of each piece. (To allow the center of Fastnacht to fry completely.) Arrange the pieces of dough, about 1-1/2" to 2" apart, on large wax paper lined trays. Cover each tray with a thin towel. Place the trays in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the pieces have raised to about double in size.

Heat the shortening to 365º. Deep fry, turning until both sides are golden brown. Drain on white paper towels. Cool completely before storing in an airtight covered container. Makes about 20 to 24 Fastnachts, depending on size.
This recipe can be doubled with no change in preparation directions.

To use this raised doughnut recipe, for glazed doughnuts.....

Beat together:

2-1/2 cups Confectioner's sugar, 4 tablespoons margarine and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add enough milk to make a thin glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the slightly warm doughnuts or dip doughnuts in the glaze.

For powdered doughnuts:

Shake slightly warm doughnuts in a bag with Confectioner's sugar, or a combination of Confectioner's sugar and cinnamon.




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Last updated November 3, 2004