Fastnacht falls on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Fastnacht is Pennsylvania Dutch or German for 'fast night' and is the last revelry before the fast of Lent. A fastnacht is a doughnut that is deep fried and served by slicing crosswise like bagel with molasses used as a spread. The fastnacht comes from German folk traditions where it was thought that eating a fastnacht before Lent would prevent boils in the coming year. The fastnacht also has a practical purpose of using up last years fat and sugar. In many Pennsylvania Dutch areas, the last person out of bed on that day is called fastnacht.
Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 7-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- In medium saucepan, warm milk and butter until butter is melted.
- In large bowl, add salt, sugar, and nutmeg. Pour in milk and melted butter. Stir and set aside until lukewarm.
- When contents in bowl are warm, mix in beaten eggs and yeast.
- Add 3 cups of flour. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes and then on high speed for 2 minutes. Mix in remaining flour by hand.
- Turn dough out onto floured board and knead for about 3 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turn dough over, and cover with clean cloth. Let rise in warm place for about 1 hour or until double in size.
- Punch down and turn dough out onto floured board. Roll to 1/4 inch thick and cut dough into squares. Cover and let rise until double in size.
- Drop into hot fat. Turn over when golden brown on bottom side. Remove from heat and set fastnachts on paper towels to cool.
- If you are going to freeze the fastnachts for later, allow to cool completely, bag and freeze.
- To cover fastnachts in powdered sugar, sift sugar over fastnachts while they are still slightly warm.
- To cover in cinnamon and sugar, put 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a plastic bag. Shake one fastnacht at a time inside the bag to coat with cinnamon sugar.
- Traditionally, fastnachts are cut open and buttered with molasses.