Fastnacht Day

Any day where it’s acceptable to deep-fry a sweet dough and cover it in lots of sugar and then eat it is a good day in my book. Here’s how they do that in Central PA.

My Grandmas' Recipes

Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, is known in Pennsylvania Dutch Country as FASTNACHT DAY. What I remember from my youth was my Grandma Losch deep-frying dozens of fastnachts, or doughnuts, that were truly without equal. People just knew to stop by her place on the day before Ash Wednesday to enjoy a homemade bit of sugary doughy goodness.

History holds that making fastnachts, or doughnuts, was a way to use up the last of the lard or sweets in the house before embarking upon Lent, the Christian season of purification and self-denial. See also, beignets, or any number of church-sponsored pancake suppers on the last night before Ash Wednesday.

While I can’t locate my grandma’s exact recipe for these fried delicacies, I do have one from the Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook (published by Culinary Arts Books in Gettysburg, PA) that is close.

If you want to cross-reference other sources…

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