Today we made fastnachts, and I have to say, making fastnachts is not fast. It’s also not easy. And it’s definitely not tidy. Making fastnachts is sticky, messy, difficult and time consuming.
What the heck are fastnachts? They are Pennsylvania Dutch doughnuts that are traditionally made on Fat Tuesday. But since we will be visiting PA Dutch country soon, we decided to make them now in anticipation of our trip. The idea was to make some to try at home, and then go sample the real thing when we are there. I already know the ones in Lancaster are vastly better. I base this not on taste, but solely on the fact that those are the ones I didn’t have to make or clean up after.
You know what else is hard about fastnachts? Saying “fastnachts.” Or spelling fastnachts. While researching recipes for our little homeschool cooking project, I came across no less than five different spellings – none of which seemed to translate to “your entire kitchen will soon be coated in flour and tears.”
Did I mention the dough for these doughnuts is made from mashed potatoes? Basically, you mix mashed potatoes with sugar, flour and a few other ingredients until you’ve created a sticky, goopy mass that you’re somehow supposed to roll into a manageable, flat piece of cutout dough. According to the recipes out there, this is done using a “generous” amount of flour. “Generous,” for fastnachts, apparently measures out to an entire 5 pound bag. Then you cut the dough into triangles (three sides to represent The Holy Trinity) and drop them in hot oil….or, maybe you are so fed up with this impossible to handle goop that you just roll them into balls, throw them in the fryer, bless yourself and ask the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to forgive your fastnacht faux pas.
In the end, they tasted okay. I guess for all of that hard work, I expected payoff in some kind of magical, melt-in-your-mouth-this-is-the-best-thing-to-ever-touch-my-taste-buds experience. When my husband came home, he loved them, so maybe they’re great if you don’t have to make them. Guess I’ll let you know when we try ones made in a Lancaster bakery by someone who actually knows what they are doing.
Oh, and to the food blogger who suggested putting jelly in the middle of the dough before frying: I forgive you.