Faschnauts!

Yesterday was Faschnaut Day.

What's that you say? You've never heard of this, and aren't sure how to even pronounce such a thing?

Not from Eastern Pennsylvania, are you?

You can hit up Wikipedia for a basic definition if you want, but basically faschnauts are the way the Pennsylvania Dutch do Shrove Tuesday. Faschnaut Day is always the day before Ash Wednesday, and was a traditional way to get rid of all the good stuff you're not allowed to eat during Lent: lard, fat, yeast, sugar, eggs, etc. I'm pretty sure the ones I had as a kid were made with potatoes and deep fried in lard, probably from a church basement somewhere.

The bullshit free doughnut from Krispy Kreme isn't even close. And don't get me wrong, I love my Hot Now too — all the more since we don't have a Krispy Kreme up here in Massachusetts. But it's not a faschnaut.

So we made our own.

Now with the No Buying Veggies Challenge, we had to forego making them with potatoes, because we are all out of those. So these are perhaps slightly less authentic, although no German farmer's wife would have run out to barter for potatoes to make them if she had run out (although that would probably never happen because the German settlers were highly accomplished farmers, so successful that they in large part shunned city life in Philadelphia, ultimately ceding political power to the English and the likes of disappointingly anti-German Ben Franklin as Pennsylvania grew and prospered).

Anyway, Kirk used the Fannie Farmer recipe for "raised doughnuts" — you can check out a similar recipe here — which means they use yeast to help them rise:


After one round of dough rising, Kirk cut them into doughnut shapes (and their holes) and set them by the heat to rise again. Meanwhile, oil heats to 360 degrees in a cast iron skillet:


We don't have a deep fryer, because we cannot be trusted with that kind of temptation. I have a feeling making these in a pan is pretty authentic, though — doesn't need to be plugged in, for starters. 


And it works just as well. You just need to flip them over to get both sides evenly golden brown. When they're done, they get a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar:


I know it's common for faschnauts to be glazed in some kind of syrup, but cinnamon (maybe nutmeg too) and sugar is what I remember. We even got a faschnaut hole in our school lunch every Faschnaut Day (which was labeled as such on the official school calendar). 

I wonder if they still do that? I hope so, because it's one of my favorite childhood memories. There aren't too many old timers left who still speak with a Dutchy accent, but I hope that in all the McMansions that have taken over the cornfields of my childhood, kids are still getting at least that one bit of what life used to be like in Lehigh County.

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