It's Fastnacht Day! Or Shrove Tuesday...or Carnival...or Mardi Gras. Take your pick. Last year I shared the Pennsylvania German fastnacht tradition for Shrove Tuesday. I'll be making them again today, and listening to my Trinidad steel pan music at the same time. Since both Diana and Calypso have spent time in New Orleans I suspect there may be some beads and masks tossed around this house as well. Who knows, maybe even a flash or two.
That's Grammy up there making donuts. No fancy donut cutters for Grammy. She used a glass and a thimble to cut them. She made fastnachts too. The main difference between donuts and fastnachts is fastnachts don't have a hole in them and are made with mashed potatoes in the dough. If you want to be a real purist they are also supposed to be fried in lard. One year I decided to be a purist. Frying dozens and dozens of fastnachts in lard was disgusting. My face felt like it was coated in lard and for days all I could smell was lard. I think it permeated my nostrils far too deeply. It was so gross I couldn't even bring myself to even enjoy eating the fastnachts. It was utterly revolting. I get nauseated thinking about it now. That mistake will not be repeated...back to peanut oil for me. Forgive me, Grammy.
I'm sure she will. Grammy was pretty relaxed. Allow me to share a donut related example. She used to fry donuts to sell. For years her oft-repeated line to a customer was, "Bring back the holes and I will give you a free dozen." One day a boy came to buy a sack of donuts. As she handed over the bag she delivered the standard jest with a wink. The next day he came back with the greasy paper bag containing a dozen bits of donut that had been carefully eaten leaving only a tiny ring around the hole. Now some people would have been disgusted and others would have been indignant but this was Grammy. She howled with laughter that the joke was on her. She very happily made good as she counted out a free dozen for the lad. She did have to stop using her favorite line though.
So now I suppose you want the recipe. Well, the sad thing is this is one recipe that was never written down in any real form at all so over the years I have tried all sorts of different recipes. I have one other cousin who has tried many different combinations and permutations as well and she's not sharing. I'm clearly more generous than she is because I'll at least give you the recipe I plan to attempt today. *Sticking out my tongue in her general direction*
1 C. warm mashed potatoes
3 egg yolks
1 C. sugar
1 yeast cake or one envelope dry yeast dissolved in
1 C. warm water
1 C. flour
-Mix well in large bowl. Add 3 egg whites beaten stiff. Let rise 3 hours.
1 C. butter
1. cup warm potato water (left from cooking potatoes)
1 C. sugar
6-7 C. flour
-Knead well. Let rise 6-6 1/2 hours. Roll out dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut and let rise again for a short time. Fry in hot oil.
I've got no commentary on the finer points of executing this recipe since it's one I haven't tried before. Given that crazy rise time though I will start the dough Monday night so it rises while I sleep. My nod to being a "purist" will be getting up to make them well before the buttcrack of dawn. I must be out of my mind. Hey! You didn't have to be so eager to agree with me!
I'm setting this thing for autopost so by the time you read this I should be in "the fastnacht zone." Either that or in a dough induced coma from over indulgence...or possibly in the nuthouse cursing this recipe while I careen off the padded walls.
Happy Fastnacht Day!
UPDATE (6:00 am): I actually hauled myself out of bed at 4am to begin the rolling, cutting, frying process. everything was done by 5:30 am and mostly cleaned up. The results of this recipe were mixed. The dough took way more than 7 cups of flour in order to be even remotely kneadable. It rose nicely and I kept the oil at a constant temp but some of the fastnachts didn't cook all the way through. Grrr.... Is it my incompetence at such and unreasonable hour (or just in general)? Is it the recipe? I dunno. The ones that cooked through were yummy. I think I may just need to give up on traditional "holeless" fastnachts and just cut holes in them all the time so they definitely cook through. Ok, I'm off to hustle the limelets who will no doubt move through the fastnachts like a swarm of locusts.