Monday, February 22, 2010

photographs of fasnacht day from this full-blown pa dutchy

With a sigh of relief and an upward puff to brush the remaining flour off my forehead, I completed my second year of whipping up over a hundred fasnachts for my family and friends. As I previously wrote about here, the recipe is one of my grandmother's, a woman who wowed the Strausses' tastebuds day in and out with the best of her Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.

However, adamant about good-health, Fasnacht Day is one of my only baking days that I shy away from my recipes pumped with nutrition-hidden ingredients like whole-grain flour, raw sugar, soy milk and agave nectar syrup. So, in honor of doughnut lovers who have recently scarified their sugary addictions and also, being that the fattest day of the year has passed, I've decided to offer you a much simpler and healthier version of browned rounds that sing victory for your lent-crazed ways and also assist in dejellying your belly.

Doughnut Muffins
makes 10 regular muffins
(also published here and adapted from here.)

3/4 cup raw sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup soy or rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (whole-grain, spelt or flaxseed meal)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
blueberries or strawberries (optional for fruity doughnuts)

2 tablespoons butter or vegan butter, melted (optional)
1/2 cup superfine sugar (or raw sugar pulsed for 30 seconds in your blender)

Lightly grease a muffin tin with vegetable oil or spray.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg. Add vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla to sugar mixture and combine.· In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Then pour into liquid mixture and stir to combine.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, and bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until nicely browned and when the center is poked, it comes out clean.

And, only after you enjoyed the nutrition of the healthy-version of the above-mentioned doughnut bites, I leave you with photographs of my escapades of Fat Tuesday.
Roughing the doughnut dough the night prior to frying, quite a pleasant experience.
Although traditional fasnachts are cut rectangular or just circular, minus the hole, the Strauss way was to use a round dough cutter and then, cut the center out with the thimble. I still have my grandmother's cutter and I most definitely use it every year.
The most time consuming part of the doughnut making, but possibly only because I can only fit 10-12 rounds in my fryer at a time.

Being a local reporter at a nearby newspaper group that has a coverage area that spreads to Lancaster County, I was in pure, traditional bliss pitching that I journey through the land of Dutchies finding the best bakers around.

Laura Jenkins of Eliza's Bakery of Phoenixville offered the sale of lard-ridden doughnuts all last week. Just entering into her shop left me intoxicated by the fresh smell of sugary sweets.
Closeup of Eliza's decadent offering of granulated and powdered sugar fasnachts.

Jim Chudnovsky of Bird-in-Hand's Bakery and Creamery cheerily continued throughout the day of Fat Tuesday whipping up the bake shop's distinct version of the Dutch doughnut. Hundreds stopped in the Lancaster County sweet spot to celebrate the tradition of the fasnacht.