German Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts

Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts

 The Spruce

  • 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
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 dozen (serves up to 24)
Amount per serving
Calories 98
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 30mg 10%
Sodium 75mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 2g
Calcium 35mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fastnacht is Pennsylvania Dutch or German for "fasting night." It falls on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and is the last day of revelry before the fast of Lent. But a fastnacht is also a deep-fried doughnut that is commonly enjoyed on – you guessed it – Fastnacht, when traditionally the pantry needed to be cleared from lard, sugar, eggs, and any other rich, fatty foods in preparation for the many coming days of repentance and prayers. 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 and spreading sweet molasses on them. They're surprisingly easy to make, so prepare to indulge in the tradition. Be fastnacht ready year-round by making bigger batches and allowing them to cool completely before freezing.

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 (or 5 teaspoons)
  • 7 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • Optional: Blackstrap molasses

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  2. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk and add butter until it has melted.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  3. In a large bowl, add salt, sugar, and nutmeg.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  4. Pour in the milk and melted butter mix. Stir and set aside until it's lukewarm.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
    The Spruce 
  5. When the bowl's contents are lukewarm, mix in beaten eggs and yeast.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  6. Add 3 cups of flour. If you have a stand mixer, beat at low speed for 2 minutes and then at high speed for 2 more minutes. If you're mixing by hand mix try to add as much air as possible by vigorously mixing the batter for the last two minutes.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  7. Once it's well mixed, add the remaining flour and mix by hand.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  8. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for about 3 minutes.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  9. Place the dough into a greased bowl and turn it over to grease both the top and bottom. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it prove in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  10. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured board.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  11. Roll out the dough out into a 1/4-inch thick disc.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  12. Cut it into squares.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  13. Cover with the kitchen towel and let prove again until it doubles in size, approximately 45 minutes.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  14. Once the squares have doubled, heat about 2 to 3 inches of cooking oil to 370 F in a heavy, deep saucepan. The frying oil is ready when a scrap of dough browns in about 1 minute.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  15. Drop the dough squares into the hot oil. Avoid crowding the pan as too many pieces of dough can make the temperature of the oil drop.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  16. When golden brown on the bottom side, turn the squares over.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  17. Once uniformly golden brown, remove from heat and set the fastnachts on paper towels to cool. Remove excess oil with a paper towel.

    Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce
  18. Serve with molasses on the side and enjoy!

  19. Fastnacht Deep-Fried Doughnuts
     The Spruce

Flavored Fastnacht

Here are some suggestions to make innovative and delicious fastnachts:

  • Make a cross shape indenture in the dough and place a dollop of fruit jelly in the center, pushing down to fill the doughnut. Or use caramel, chocolate fudge, whipped cream, or any other sweet sauce of your liking to fill the doughnuts.
  • For a simpler treat, dust with powdered sugar or with a combination of granulated sugar and cinnamon while the squares are still warm. Make your cinnamon sugar and place it in a plastic bag, adding one fastnacht at a time inside the bag to coat with the mixture.

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