Kinklings (aka Fastnachts, Potato Doughnuts)
- 1 Russet potato, about 1/2 pound, peeled and diced
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup butter
- 3 cups flour
- oil for frying I used canola
- more granulated sugar for coating the doughnuts
- In a small pot, boil the potatoes in at least 2 cups of water. Remove and reserve 3/4 cup of the potato cooking water. Drain and mash the potatoes until smooth.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the mashed potatoes, reserved potato cooking water and sugar. Allow to cool a few minutes until it is closer to room temperature and whisk in the yeast. Cover with a tea towel and let the mixture rest for 15-20 minutes. It should look foamy and like the yeast is starting to do something. If it doesn’t, start over.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and set aside to allow to cool slightly.
- Whisk the potato mixture into a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer through a metal sieve.
- Stir in the egg. Stir 1 cup of the flour until the egg looks mixed in, about a minute. Add the second cup and mix until dough starts to form around the dough hook (or in your bowl around your spoon if mixing by hand), about 3-5 minutes. Stream in the melted butter as the mixer goes (or mix it in by hand a little at a time). Mix 1 minute then slowly add the remaining 1 cup of flour in as the mixer is going with the dough hook (or use a spoon and some muscle) until the dough forms a large ball and has completely come away from the sides of the bowl. Remove to a larger, buttered bowl that has room for the dough to double in size. Cover with a tea towel and put in a warm place to rise for 3 hours.
- On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough into an 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into large 3x3” squares. Place each on a large baking sheet or platter at least an inch apart. Make a little dimple with your finger tip in the middle of each doughnut but don’t push all the way through. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise again in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
- Heat a few inches of oil in a large walled skillet or Dutch oven to 365°. Meanwhile, line some platters or cookie sheets with paper towels. Pour some more granulated sugar in a shallow bowl or plate.
- Working in batches, fry the doughnuts until golden brown on both sides, flipping once, about 2 minutes per side. Drain briefly on paper towel lined plates. (see note for details about how I did this myself)
- Dip both sides of each doughnut in granulated sugar and serve.
- Best served the same day they are made.
- Doughnut making goes very quickly! Be ready with paper towel-lined platters to drain and bowls/plates of sugar ready to dip your doughnuts in before you start frying.
- This was my method for frying the doughnuts by myself: I put two doughnuts in the hot oil, when they were ready to flip, flipped them and I added two more. When the first two were ready I removed them to the platter and flipped the “new” batch. I added two new doughnuts to the pan to replace the ones I removed. Then I used tongs to dip the hot doughnuts from the platter in the sugar and returned them to the platter. By the time they were sugared, the next set of two was ready and I started over. I made all the doughnuts in about 20 minutes.
- I found it easier to work alone (my kitchen is tiny!) but you may find it better to work with someone who can be sugaring the doughnuts while you are frying.
I think this was my favorite recipe of all that I updated from community cookbooks or created fully for my latest cookbook, Festive Maryland Recipes. That’s the book I co-authored with Kara Mae Harris who wrote the short essays about each recipe. The book came out last fall and is on sale now.
In Western Maryland, these potato doughnuts are called Kinklings but elsewhere, especially in areas with a historically Pennsylvania Dutch community, they are called fastnachts. They are made on Shrove Tuesday as a final treat before Lent begins, much like how other communities make pancakes. Areas with large Polish populations frequently make pączek, another type of doughnut on this day. I had so much fun researching this history and then creating what I thought was the absolute best recipe for kinklings to make at home. It was a true labor of love! These were so delicious! I am 100% sure you will love them.
Many recipes for these doughnuts make an absolutely massive amount. Dozens and dozens of doughnuts. Not only is that a ton of work and you would need some very large bowls to let all that dough rise, but these doughnuts are best fresh from the fryer. This is not a make-ahead snack.
I did some tinkering and came up with a recipe that makes enough doughnuts to share with your friends, maybe not the entire neighborhood but some friends, that also is as streamlined and accessible as possible. It is well worth the effort and I promise people will be very impressed that you made potato doughnuts at home. They are so light and fluffy it will be hard to eat any other kind of doughnut ever again!