Happy Carnival, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fasching, Fat Tuesday, or whatever you call it where you're from! Where I come from, it's Fastnachts Day.
Growing up in Eastern PA I took a lot of Pennsylvania Dutch traditions for granted. I've never had to make fastnachts or a shoo fly pie because they're sold everywhere, even in the grocery store. But without even crossing a state border it's a different world in Pittsburgh. Every year I pout about not having fastnachts available & usually eat a normal doughnut out of bitterness.
Well not this year. For my 5th Fat Tuesday in the Burgh it's time to take matters into my own hand, strap on an apron, & fry some ridiculously fatty balls of delish.
I went with Fleegal's family recipe which is your typical flour, sugar, eggs, milk, etc with some cinnamon & cloves. There's another variation I'd like to try next year made from potatoes where you have to wait for the yeast to rise & can control the shape... but this was easier & a good introduction into frying. I've never fried anything in my life, but fire hazards be damned I gave it a try.
I learned a few things on my first fastnact adventure....
- A little heat goes a long way. When your tub of crisco says "medium heat" they really mean LOW. Otherwise your apartment will fill with smoke & your first batch will immediately brown while the center is still batter. .....or so I'd imagine *ahem*
- Let the dough sit a little while. This might have something to do with the baking powder? But after about 10 minutes I noticed the dough was much more solid. So I let my 2nd batch sit a while & they ended up much less crustacean shaped than those in the pictures.
- Fastnacts are not compatible with my lifestyle. It's really impractical & slightly ironic to BUY fat for a day where tradition tells you to use up the old fat in order to get rid of it for lent. Also I didn't own any metal scoops & plastic melts so I ended up scooping them with my cheese grater, as you can see above. And I had to buy paper towels specifically to dry them, normally I use real towels to clean. But I imagine it's a good thing to be ill-prepared for deep frying in your day-to-day life.