Day 36: Making Fastnachts for Fastnacht Day

If you don’t know what Fastnacht Day is then you don’t know what you’re missing! Fastnacht Day is a Pennsylvania-Dutch tradition. It is always  the day before Ash Wednesday (when Lent begins) and is celebrated by eating ‘potato doughnuts’, known as fastnachts. Fastnachts are basically doughnuts that are more bread-like, have no hole, and are covered in powder sugar. They are delicious!

Welcome to the wonderful world of delicious fastnachts. These are as real as they get in Pennsylvania-Dutch county.

Every year, since I can remember, my grandparents buy real fastnachts (you can easily find ‘fastnachts’ at bakeries and stores, but most likely they are just regular powdered or sugared doughnuts) and distribute them to friends and family, always giving my family a box.  Because I was at school the last few years, I haven’t gotten them, and so today, when I picked up the box from my grandparents’ house, I ended up eating 2 on the way home! When I got out of the car I looked like I had played in snow, so covered was I with powder! (They are extremely powdered! More so than regular doughnuts)

As I was eating them, I contemplated the difference between fastnachts and regular doughnuts and wondered why the real fastnachts are so unknown and hard to find these days. And that’s when I knew I had to make fastnachts in honor of the day.

I found a recipe on the internet that didn’t require yeast as I didn’t want to be waiting all night for my fastnachts to rise (I wasn’t sure if this would make a difference in the flavor- I guess these aren’t true fastnachts?). Once I had the dough made, I put it in the fridge to chill for an hour and a half- an hour and a half that consisted of me trying to avoid the box of perfect fastnachts on the counter. I was determined not to let myself eat any more of them tonight.

Once the dough was ready, I heated up the oil and prepared myself for a home-made masterpiece. The first couple pieces of dough were definitely not done in the middle, so I tried to keep the next few in the oil longer. This only resulted in a burned outer shell. And the middle was still uncooked.

I was kind of frustrated, but I had so many pieces left, I told myself it didn’t matter and turned the burner down. Once the oil was a little less hot, I tried it again. Two more rounds of pieces came out. I cut them open. Goo. What the heck! I let the oil cool some more and kept the next few pieces in longer. These turned out a little better! There was still a little goo, but not nearly as much. And, one was goo-free! My first fastnacht! I couldn’t help myself- I popped it into my mouth without another thought. I didn’t even wait to coat it in powdered sugar. I don’t know if it was because it was my first success or if I am just a master baker, but it tasted delicious!

My hopes were now lifted and I put another round of dough pieces into the oil, sure that these were all going to be winners. But it was not


to be. They were still gooey! What happened to the path to successful pastries I was starting down? I must have taken a wrong turn, because now all I could think about was the putrid stench that the oil and dough combination was making. At this point, my frustration was gone. I couldn’t help but laugh. I only had a handful of dough pieces left and had so far only made one little successful fastnacht, which I had eaten. If someone had come in the kitchen at that moment they would have seen the pile of failure that you see above and most definitely would not have believed me if I told them I had made one right.

In the end, I got about 5 fastnachts. These were the only pieces out of about 30 or so that turned out completely cooked in the middle. FIVE! OUT OF THIRTY! Do you hear what I’m saying? Fastnacht-making was an epic fail. Probably my biggest fail since Day 7: Learning How To Knit. And it gets worse. When I covered them in powdered sugar and tried one… it was gross. NOTHING like a true fastnacht.

Forget my earlier determination. I think I might drown my sorrows in the box of delicious, already-perfected fastnachts that is sitting on my counter.

Explore posts in the same categories: Cooking/ Food

3 Comments on “Day 36: Making Fastnachts for Fastnacht Day”

  1. Susanna Says:

    hahahaha good attempt Sarah! I miss getting fastnachts :( I didn’t get any this year!

  2. Anne Says:

    You have to let them get REALLY really dark – as close to burnt as they get without being burnt. And if they touch the bottom instead of floating they will burn. I had my first ones come out with goo in the middle too – luckily my Mom had made them with my Grandma a lot so she could direct me!

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