Chris Hoffman, a member of Friedens UCC, places trays of fastnachts in the proofing room so they can rise before the final step of deep frying. This year the church is making enough to fill more than 200 dozen orders.
For many in the region, Fastnacht Day translates to warm memories. It's that unmistakable rich, yeasty flavor of a doughnut, minus the hole if you're traditional; a one-of-a-kind, once-a-year indulgence.
Fastnachts, a conventional Pennsylvania Dutch food, were made on Shrove Tuesday, or Fastnacht Day, to use up all the fat (usually lard) and sugar, before the start of the Lenten fast.
"A lot of it has to do with the time, it was traditionally the time of year you get fresh lard," said Hereford Township historian Carl Arner. "Since you butcher from about late January through March, it was time to get rid of the older lard leftover from the year before. The Pennsylvania Dutch were very frugal about using things instead of having them spoil. With Easter coming, they would use a lot of the fat/lard up with baking." ...