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Family Story

Fastnachts are a Pennsylvania Dutch Shrove Tuesday tradition. In the small Pennsylvania town where I grew up, my great aunt Mary Klinedinst made dozens of these fat doughnuts every year for friends and family. Her fastnachts were famous. One year, while living in San Francisco, I decided to share the pre-Lenten tradition with friends and colleagues. Per Aunt Mary's recipe, I mixed up my fastnachts the night before Shrove Tuesday. They rose and rose and rose some more, and I ran out of room in my small apartment for the second rising. At 5 am the next morning, I got up and started frying donuts. After three hours, I sent my roommate to our offices with two shopping bags of freshly made donuts. I kept frying donuts for two more hours and then took two more shopping bags to work. I never understood how Aunt Mary was able to make dozens of fastnachts every year well into her 80s, even with her daughters' help. They are delicious, though.


1 Step

Mix in the evening. Grease top to keep soft and cover tightly. Set in a warm place to rise overnight. In morning, form fastnachts with greased hands, forming a center hole with your thumbs. Let them raise again and fry in deep vegetable shortening, rounded side down for a perfectly rounded product.* Drain well on absorbent paper and roll in granulated sugar. Makes about 5 dozen (large) fastnachts. *Shortening must be heated to the point at which a bread cube fries to a golden brown and kept at that temperature. If the fat is too hot, the fastnachts will be too hard.


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