So the day is quickly coming! Shrove Tuesday! 8 March! Fasnacht Day! So what is a fasnacht? Here is a recipe for Fasnachts Berliner. (03/07/11 – Sorry! I had to change the recipe.) Treat yourself and your family and your friends to a delightful, Off The Diet, delicious Pennsylvania Dutch (German) doughnut. The photo on the left is the way I remember them – covered in powdered sugar. And here is some information on fasnachts, gleened from http://unasked.com/question/view/id/15912:

“Fasnachts, Fastnachts or Faschnachts are a fatty doughnut treat served traditionally on Fastnacht Day, the day before Lent starts. Fasnachts were produced as a way to empty the pantry of lard, sugar, fat and butter, which were forbidden during Lent. Some English-speaking Protestants tend to refer to the day as Shrove Tuesday, and many consume pancakes as an alternative.

The German word Fasnacht literally translates as “chamfering night”. Authentic fasnachts are typically cut into squares or rectangles, producing a chamfered edge, as opposed to doughnuts which are round with holes in the center.

Basel, Switzerland conducts a fasnacht festival annually. The Pennsylvania Dutch territory surrounding Lancaster, Pennsylvania celebrates the custom, although it is largely unheard-of in Philadelphia, which is commuting distance away. Most chain supermarkets offer fasnachts, although WalMart offers Pączki instead. The pączki is traditionally eaten in Poland on the Thursday prior to Fasnacht Day, although in Polish communities of the US, the celebration is more commonly on Fasnacht Day. Commonly pączki are round, rather than having straight sides, and they are filled with jelly, or sometimes creme filling.

The term now is synonymous with the Carnival season in southern Germany, Switzerland, Alsass and Austria. Although usually written “Fastnacht”, there are many local spoken varieties: Fasnacht, Fassenacht, Fasnet etc.

Many churches in Pennsylvania feature Fastnacht sales as a fundraiser. The Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Columbia made 84,000 fasnacht in 2008 at $4.50/dozen, and was turning away potential customers; St. Cecilia Church in Lebanon earned $24,000 in 2006 by turning 3 tons of sugar, 720 pounds of margarine, 1,000 gallons of milk and more than 1,000 eggs into fasnachts.”

If you are really interested, you can find more information on the The Best American Poetry Blog, of all things. So there you go! Try these as they are a real treat. Labor intensive, but worth all of the time.