Time to Make the Fasnachts

Rock on with your culturally diverse self!

This post is dedicated to my dear brother-in-law’s family and their rich Pennsylvania Dutch traditions…

For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to have PA Dutch extended family, a fasnacht is a donut!  And the PA Dutchies have a whole holiday devoted to them!

“Fasnacht,” translates roughly into “fast night,” and it happens every year on the day before Ash Wednesday.  Many of us refer to this holy day as “fat Tuesday,” and it is often celebrated at Carnivale or Mardi Gras.  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, an approximately 40-day long observance of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  During this time, Christians show their devotion to God through prayer and fasting.  In preparation for this time of fasting, many Pennsylvania Dutch would clear their pantries of rich and sweet food items, like sugar, fat, and butter, for which donuts are the perfect vehicle!

If you didn’t place your fasnacht order on time this year, fret not!  Here is a fabulous recipe to make for your family!  These fasnachts are baked, not fried, so you can feel a little better about stuffing your faces with them.  And some smart and healthy additions keep them higher in protein, fiber, and omega-3’s, and lower in fat.

Make this Tuesday a little extra-special for your “bubbelies!”*

Cinnamon-Crumb Baked Fasnachts

makes 9 donuts, but can be doubled easily… 🙂

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
a few scratches fresh nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

First for the crumb topping:  cut the cold butter into cubes and smoosh it into the flour, butter, flax, and cinnamon with your fingertips.

It should resemble like a streusel topping.

I got my ground flax at the regular supermarket, in the organic/gluten free section.  It has a great, nutty flavor, and it’s super high in fiber, protein, and essential fats.  It also has antioxidant properties!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease your donut pan.  (Mine is Wilton and I got it at Michaels.)  Sprinkle a little of the crumb topping into the bottom of each donut cup.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt in a large mixing bowl and blend together.  In a small container, mix the yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter.

Pour the wet into the dry and mix until just combined.  It’s better to have a few lumps than to overmix the batter, you don’t want tough fasnachts.

Greek yogurt is super high in protein, has probiotic properties, and zero fat.  It gives the fasnachts a moist texture and subtle tang, and the slight acidity works with the baking powder to help the fasnachts puff up.

Fill each donut cup 2/3 full.  I like to use a pastry bag but a spoon works pretty well, too.

Top each fasnacht with a little more crumb topping.

Bake for 7-9 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch.  Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then remove them to a wire rack.

These fasnachts are so cinnamon-spicy sweet and cakey-delicious, you’d never know they were actually healthy!  Feel good about feeding these to your family, on Fasnacht Day, or any day!

Click here for a printable 4×6 recipe card: Cinnamon-Crumb Baked Fasnachts Recipe Card

* “bubbelies” is Pennsylvania Dutch for “babies.”


5 thoughts on “Time to Make the Fasnachts

  1. Looks delicious! I got excited about making them when I saw the picture, but then realized I have no doughnut pan, and here in Cairo, Egypt, don’t think I will find one easily. Maybe I can pick one up next time in the states. In the meantime, can I make it as a muffin do you think?

    Also, I like how you make it extra healthy, but again, my resources are limited here. What is cake flour exactly? can I use regular flour? And if I don’t have flaxseed, does it need to be replaced? maybe dumb questions, but I am not a very adventurous cook…I prefer to follow recipes of those who know what they are doing, like you! Fun reading your blog.
    Julie (Van Dame) Casper

  2. those are great questions, julie, not dumb at all. cooking can be tricky, especially baking, where there are so many chemical reactions happening…

    i think the recipe would work very well as a muffin, that is a great alternative if you don’t have a donut pan.

    go ahead and use regular, all-purpose flour. it will give a similar result. cake flour is more finely milled, and it’s made from a harder wheat, which is less glutinous. gluten is what gives breads that stretchy feel. a lot of times you don’t want that in a cake, you want something more tender. but if you are very careful not to overwork the batter, it should come out just fine. the more you stir the batter, the more the glutens will develop, so just fold the wet ingredients in and don’t overmix.

    as for the flax, you can totally leave that out. i actually added it as an afterthought. it would be perfectly delicious without flax.

    good luck, i hope your family enjoys their fasnachts! i will be thinking of you guys today, all the way in egypt, having a fasnacht day celebration!


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