German Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts

German deepfried donut being cooked
David Cordner/Photodisc/Getty Images
Ratings (30)
  • Total: 2 hrs 35 mins
  • Prep: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 2 dozen (serves up to 24)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
98 Calories
6g Fat
11g Carbs
2g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Are you eating fastnacht on Fastnacht? It may sound like a confusing question, but it's fun and you'll have just as much fun making and eating these delicious fried doughnuts.

The name Fastnacht is Pennsylvania Dutch or German for '"fast night." It falls on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and is the last revelry before the fast of Lent. On the other hand, a fastnacht is a deep-fried doughnut that is commonly enjoyed on (you guessed it) Fastnacht.

The fastnacht comes from German folk traditions where it was thought that eating a fastnacht before Lent would prevent boils (painfully infected hair follicles) in the coming year. It also has a practical purpose of using up the previous year's fat and sugar. In many Pennsylvania Dutch areas, the last person out of bed on that day is called fastnacht.

These delicious doughnuts are served by slicing them crosswise like a bagel before sweet molasses is spread on them. They're surprisingly easy to make, so there's really no excuse not to indulge in the tradition.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 egg (beaten)
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Steps to Make It

In a medium saucepan, warm the milk and butter until the butter has melted.

In a large bowl, add salt, sugar, and nutmeg. Pour in the milk and melted butter mix. Stir and set aside until it is lukewarm.

When the bowl's contents are lukewarm, 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 the remaining flour by hand.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for about 3 minutes.

Place the dough into a greased bowl, turn the dough over (this greases both top and bottom), and cover with a clean cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

Punch down and turn the dough out onto a floured board.

Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thick and cut it into squares.

Cover and let rise until it is double in size.

Drop the dough squares into hot fat.

Turn over when golden brown on the bottom side.

Remove from heat and set the fastnachts on paper towels to cool.

Serve and enjoy!

Fastnacht Tips

Traditionally, fastnachts are cut open and slathered with molasses. However, you can also top them with sweeteners or freeze them and warm them back up.

If you are going to freeze the fastnachts for later, allow to them to cool completely, then bag and freeze.

To cover fastnachts in powdered sugar, sift sugar over the fastnachts while they are still slightly warm.

To cover fastnachts 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.