Slow Days: Fastnachts

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

In England, it is Shrove Tuesday. In N’Orleans, it is Mardi Gras. In Brazil, it is Carneval. In Poland, it is Pączki Day. But in Germany and “Pennsylvania Dutch Country”, it is Fastnacht Day. When I was a child, my mother [who’s distant ancestors were French/Swiss/German but who was raised in South Central Pennsylvania] often made doughnuts with us on the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, “To use up all the eggs and fat in the house before the start of Lent.” Of course, we still had lots of butter-sugar-Crisco-eggs in the house, so it was more a cultural food tradition. Dear Husband’s father came from a very German family: half of his grandparents were born in Bavaria, where the day is called Fasching. Dear Husband remembers that his father used to fry Fastnachts for breakfast the day before Lent began. I am delighted to have Dear Husband’s grandmother’s recipe for “Fastnacht Kuchen,” as written out by one of her daughters.

Here is Nana’s recipe, written out by her daughter Josephine.

After struggling with the recipe for years without success [compounded by the fact that I’m at lousy deep-fat frying], I developed my own method while still using the original ingredients and proportions. A major change: mine are baked, not deep fat fried. Dear Husband loves them.

ORIGINAL RECIPE
Makes 75
Original directions MY VERSION makes 10 Here’s how I do it.
1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 pkg dry yeast
“Mix” 3 Tbsp warm water
pinch sugar
¾ tsp yeast
Start before noon the day before you want to serve them. Combine and let stand until yeast is bubbly.
Three 2-oz eggs
2 cup sugar
rind of 2 lemons
1 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp salt
“Beat together with a beater until ___[can’t read]____” 1 oz beaten egg
1/3 c sugar
2 tsp lemon zest  
2 pinches nutmeg
½ tsp salt
Stir together these ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, then add the yeast mixture.
Combine well with a hand-held electric mixer.
¼ pound butter
2 cup milk
“Melt the butter in 2 cups warm milk.” 3 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup milk
Heat milk to scalding and melt butter in it. Let cool to lukewarm.
6 cups sifted flour“In a bowl. Add alternately until mixed well. Let stand overnight in a warm place.”  ½ c white whole wheat flour
¾ c all-purpose flour
Place the flour in a bowl and add the egg mixture and the butter mixture alternately to the flour. Stir to combine well. Let rise, covered, 6 hours in a warm place. Do the next step in the evening.
More flour for kneading
Lard for frying
“Flour waxed paper and knead 2 Tbsp at a time. Cut out doughnuts**. Let rise 2 hours. Fry in lard.” [last word underlined twice!]   More flour for kneading The dough is very sticky. Kneading alone will fix that, trying not to add much flour. Knead on a buttered or lightly-floured board until it can be handled and will hold its shape but is not stiff. Form into balls [non-traditional] or squares with a slit in the middle [traditional] and put in the refrigerator overnight. [**Not supposed to be doughnut-shaped] 
Melted lard for brushing 
Icing sugar
Heat oven to 425 F. Grease a baking sheet with melted lard. Brush the Fastnachts with melted lard and bake 10+ minutes. Shake icing sugar on top and serve warm. They freeze well.

Ready for breakfast, complete with Mardi Gras beads

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