This Running with the Stack (actually known as Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day)dates from medieval times, originally celebrated by coveys of apron-clad women racing each other through the streets flipping flapjacks high in the air at least three times as they head for the finish line at the church door.
The vicar decided the winner and awarded the prize, a prayer book. The church bell then signaled the start of this Shrove Tuesday festival, which originated to use up all the butter and eggs before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, with it's look inward and abstinence from meat and other rich foods It was a fitting end to cold dreary February, a month so dull the Romans only gave it 28 days
The recipes and spelling of the dish may vary slightly but you do NOT want to call them donuts in Pennsylvania Deitsch country. They may or may not have a hole or a slit in the center, but I add one, so my slightly larger sized ones cook completely in the center. But in holding with tradition, they are cut into squares, to represent the four gospels in the Bible.
But this year, that was a week in which there was no celebrating in my household, and they got put aside, until today. With an early morning call out, little sleep and fatigue, it was the perfect Post Lent Sunday Snack on my return (as the beer was remaining in the fridge for the rest of Lent).
However, I avoided running, as a Scandahoovian Shieldmaiden with a plateful of hot fried Fastnachts is not a sight for amateurs.
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed potato (don't add anything to it, just the potatoes)1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup lard
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of Cardamom (Optional)
2 packs yeast
1/2 cup warm water (use the warm potato water) plus 1/2 cup milk
5 cups flour
Cook 2-3 peeled chunked potatoes in water until soft. Set aside potato water. Lightly mash potato and measure out 1 cup, reserving any leftover for another use.
Heat milk until scalded (just bubbling around the edges) and add cooled potato water (you want the mixture warm but not hot).
Add yeast to the warm liquid and stir until dissolved.
Cream the sugar, butter and lard, and then beat that into the mashed potatoes on low, adding in eggs, salt, vanilla and nutmeg. Beat in yeast mixture on medium until smooth and then, with a wooden spoon, beat in roughly 3 cups of the flour Dump out onto a floured surface and knead in as much of the remaining flour as it takes (or not) so the dough is not sticky. Put in lightly greased bowl, cover with cloth and let rise until doubled. Once doubled, roll out dough 1/2 inch thick, cut into squares and lay out on waxed paper about 2 inches apart and cover with a thin, clean towel. Let raise in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour)
Heat additional lard (you want it about 4 inches deep) to 365 degrees F. and gently add the Fastnachts to the hot fat with a wire spoon, so they do not spatter. Fry until golden brown on both side, turning once. Drain on paper towel and brush with a glaze made of 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp of milk and a small splash of vanilla. When cool enough to handle, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar and serve. Makes a couple dozen large ones (and there might be some left for my team in the morning)