My Version of a PA Dutch Favorite: Baked Mini Fastnacht Doughnuts for Fat Tuesday

“Where did you get this recipe?” – my Mom’s immediate response to trying one of these baked mini Fastnachts. She couldn’t believe it was something I created – and that they were baked – because she felt like they had tasted spot-on like the ones she would get from Lancaster. Coming from her, that means a lot. For those of you who aren’t familiar, “Fastnacht Day” is an annual PA Dutch celebration falling on the Shrove Tuesday (“Fat Tuesday”) landing before Ash Wednesday. Fastnacht (of German origin) translates to “Fast Night” in English. As part of the German tradition, individuals are to eat the very best and rich foods before entering the Lenten fast. Fastnacht doughnuts are normally slightly crispy on the outside, and not as sweet as standard doughnuts (that’s why many people add powdered sugar or dip the doughnuts in chocolate or jam). There are three types of Fastnachts made: one with yeast, one with baking powder, and one with potatoes and yeast. Funny enough, my recipe uses yeast, dehydrated potato and baking powder. Sticking to my German heritage, I was determined to bake a traditional Fastnacht I didn’t have to deep fry and still tasted amazing. However, I did pan fry them lightly in some butter to get a “crisp” exterior. I will definitely be baking more of these the next time I make them – they were heavenly, and I will always love a great doughnut. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

Makes Around 2 Dozen Mini Fastnachts

*The dough does have to rise for 1.5 hours total in this recipe, so allot appropriate time*

Recipe by © Alysha Melnyk 2018

Kitchen Tools:

Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer

Mixing Bowl

Liquid Measuring Cups

Cooking Thermometer

Dry Measuring Cups

Liquid Measuring Cup

Measuring Spoons

Parchment Paper

Medium Bowl

Clean Kitchen Towel

Sheet Pan

Rolling Pin

Sauté Pan

Ingredients:

*Disclaimer – I am including certain brand names of things I use (just because they are personal favorites of mine), but feel free to use whatever brand you like, is the cheapest, is on sale, what you have on hand, etc.*

1/2 Cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 Cup Dehydrated Potato (I bought a box of instant potatoes with just “dehydrated potato” as the ingredient)

1/4 Cup Pastry Flour

1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Butter or Butter Substitute at Room Temperature (I used Earth Balance Buttery Spread)

1 Pack Active Dry Yeast (*1 pack normally has around 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)

1/2 Teaspoon Sugar

1/4 Cup Hot Water at 110°F-115°F (*This is important to activate the yeast, but not kill it.)

1/3 Cup Milk (I used Stonyfield Organic Fat Free Milk)

1/4 Cup Light Brown Super

1 Large Egg

4 Tablespoons Yogurt (I used Stonyfield Fat Free Yogurt)

1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 Teaspoon Pure Almond Extract

1/4 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt (*Or salt of choice)

*Additional Ingredients: Extra flour (for covering work surface), olive oil (for coating bowl), unsalted butter (for pan frying), cane sugar and powdered sugar (for dusting)

*Optional for serving: Jam, Preserves, Dipping Chocolate

Instructions:

  1. For the first step, pour 1/4 cup hot water into a small cup. Use liquid cooking thermometer to ensure water temperature is between 110°F-115°F (so the yeast doesn’t die). Poor in yeast packet, and add in 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Stir a bit with a spoon, and set aside for around 5 minutes. This forms the “yeast cake” that is incorporated into the bread. (*You’ll see the mixture bubbling/foaming, which showcases yeast activation.)
  2. While yeast is activating, mix all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of dehydrated potato (reserve other 1/2 cup for later), and whole wheat pastry flour until well-combined.
  3. Next, add in entire yeast cake, butter, milk and light brown sugar. Mix until well-combined.
  4. After that, add in egg, yogurt, baking soda, vanilla extract, almond extract,  and pink Himalayan salt. Mix until well-combined.
  5. Last but not least, mix in remaining 1/2 cup of dehydrated potato until well-combined.
  6. Lightly grease a medium bowl with olive oil.
  7. Next, lightly flour work surface and knead dough for around five minutes. Form into a ball, and place in greased bowl (flipping once to coat dough ball in oil). Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise for 1 hour.
  8. Then lightly flour work surface again and roll dough ball out with a rolling pin into a rectangular shape (doesn’t have to be perfect). Make sure the dough is around 1/2 to 1 inch thick (not too thin, or you’ll get tortilla doughnuts haha!).
  9. After that, cut dough into small squares (or any preferred shape). Mine were around 2″ by 2″.
  10. Cover squares with kitchen towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
  11. After dough rises again, heat oven to 375°F.
  12. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, and place squares on pan (they can be relatively close – I fit all mine on one pan).
  13. Bake for 10-12 minutes and look for the Fastnachts to turn golden in color/have browned bottoms. Mine baked for exactly 12 minutes.
  14. Let Fastnachts cool, and then (if desired – I strongly recommend) heat a sauté pan on medium, coat with a thin layer of unsalted butter, and lightly pan fry tops of Fastnachts. Add butter as needed between pan frying.
  15. Lay pan fried Fastnachts on parchment paper or paper towels, rub cane sugar on the tops and use sifter to apply even coatings of powdered sugar to each Fastnacht. Do this immediately prior to serving (as powdered sugar will absorb over night and need reapplied before eating).
  16. Eat plain or serve with jam or chocolate – enjoy! 🙂

*Leftovers can be stored in airtight container or bag at room temperature 3-5 days. Apply powdered sugar just before eating.*

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