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Pre-Lenten fastnachts a traditional treat

March 07, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Fred Krumpe, co-owner of Krumpe's Do-Nuts, in Hagerstown, throws a hot batch of fastnachts into warm glaze.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — — Whether you call it Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Fastnacht Day, the Tuesday before Lent begins means one thing in Hagerstown: busy, busy bakers.

Bakers at Krumpe’s Do-Nuts off Maryland Avenue began baking Sunday night and planned to work all day and night today and into Tuesday to meet the demand for fastnachts, or heavy, square pastries served dripping with glaze or dusted with cinnamon or powdered sugar, operations manager Max Krumpe said.

The treats are a regional custom traditionally made to use up fatty ingredients before the beginning of Lent, the Christian season of fasting and restraint leading up to Easter.

But the popularity of fastnachts has spread beyond that purpose, Krumpe said.

“I think it’s just more of a tradition, and people like it so much they just have to have them,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re going to fast (during Lent).”

Krumpe’s sold more than 4,100 dozen fastnachts in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday last year, and they expect to match or exceed that number this year, Krumpe said.

North of Hagerstown, baker Pearl Martin also observed that the fastnacht tradition had spread beyond observers of Lent.

“I’m not sure how many of the people that’s buying them know what a fastnacht is; they just know it’s something to do,” said Martin, who with her sister runs Pearl’s Homemade Goodies on Cearfoss Pike.

In business since 1987, Martin’s shop sells breads, rolls, fruit pies and other baked goods from homemade dough, she said.

“Each season has its own thing for us,” she said. “Eastertime, coming up, will be a lot of coconut cakes ... Christmastime, it’s cookie platters; summertime, strawberry pies, blackberry pies.”

And for Shrove Tuesday, the thing is fastnachts.

“We will sell quite a few hundred dozen,” Martin said.

To prepare the fastnachts, which they make from homemade dough, Martin and her sister started at about 4 a.m. today and planned to bring in extra workers on shifts to continue baking through tonight, she said.

“It’s a long, hard job, but we’ve been doing it ever since we opened,” she said.

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