11 April 2011

Family recipe Monday: Pennsylvania Dutch breakfasts

Myrtle Minerva Deppe Shaffner, Gene's grandmother

The recent wave of day-by-day Civil War Sesquicentennial accounts from 1861 news stories keeps reminding me that we could play out the whole conflict in our own house. I have all the Confederate relatives; Gene is a good Pennsylvania Dutch kid with deep German roots (and a Swedish line as well). There seems to be no crossover: he has no Confederates in his genealogical attic, and I can't find anyone on my side in a Union state by the time the Recent Unpleasantness broke out.

What surprises me is how similar some of the old family recipes are between our families. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised--the Honnolls in my family were of German origin, after all--but I would have thought that generations of increasing Southernness (if that's a word) would have caused a bigger recipe drift (if there is such a thing) than it did.

Gene's maternal grandmother Myrtle Deppe Shaffner came from a family of 18 children in the Berwick area of Pennsylvania. They were all farmers in the Susquehanna Valley area, raising crops and dairy cattle and, well, obviously, children. Some of the Deppes married their first cousins, also Deppes, which means that I have double Deppes in the genealogy, and that is one very different-looking family tree. But they were staunch German Methodists, and so were the Honnoll Confederates. I wonder if they couldn't have worked things out over a big Oktoberfest dinner, and skipped the war.

Here are a few recipes from the Shaffner side, guaranteed to please the palate and frighten the heart. The first one should have been run the day before Shrove Tuesday (=Mardi Gras), but this way you get nearly a year to get your heart ready for the delights. All comments are from Gene's mom Dolly, who would have been 76 this year. She collected the recipes from her family for years, and we are scanning them now.


These are German doughnuts made eaten on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. They are best eaten the same day they are made.

NOTE: Mother used to make these wonderful goodies. I would get off the school bus and hurry up the lane through wind and cold rain, usually in March, and when I opened the door I would be greeted by the aroma of sizzling dough. Although I’m not much of a doughnut lover, I enjoyed a few doughnut holes. Yes, they were made on Shrove Tuesday and they were devoured by Dad and my sisters and brother as fast as she could turn them out.

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 C. scalded milk, cooled to lukewarm
4 eggs
1/4 lb. soft butter
2 1/3 c. flour
1/4 tbsp. sugar
1 qt. oil or melted shortening for frying
*XXX (confectioner’s) sugar for garnish

Soften yeast in milk; add eggs one by one, followed by butter, flour, salt, and sugar. Blend well by hand. Cover with a slightly moist tea towel and put in warm, draft-free place to rise until double in bulk. Punch down and let rise until double in bulk again.

To fry, use an iron Dutch oven or similar kettle. Heat oil to 350* F. Heap a tablespoon with dough & scrape it off the spoon with a table knife into the hot oil. Fry about 6 at a time to golden brown on one side the flip over to brown on other side. Remove with slotted spoon or tongs and drain a bit on brown paper. Roll in bowl of XXX sugar. or if you have a tin shaker, you can sift it on. Put on wax paper to cool.

*We also like cinnamon sugar on them. Just mix a bit of cinnamon with sugar & roll fastnachts in it. If you have a tin shaker, you can sift it on.
--Dolly Hess

German apple pancakes

4 eggs
3/4 c flour
3/4 c milk
½ tsp salt
1/4 c (4tbsp) butter divided
2 med apples sliced
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 400*. Place 2 9x1 1/12" round cake pans in oven. Beat eggs, flour, milk, salt in small bowl med speed 1 min. Remove pans. Place 2tbsp butter in each pan and rotate to coat. Arrange half the apple slices in each pan and divide batter between pans. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over batter. Bake uncovered until puffed and golden (20-25 min). Serve soon as they fall like souffles. Makes 4 servings.


1 3/4 c. milk
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 c. lukewarm water
3 tbsp. vegetable oil or 1/4 c. soft shortening
3 eggs, room temperature
2 c. sifted flour

Scald milk, add sugar and salt and cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, sprinkle yeast on warm water & stir to dissolve. Add to cooled milk. Beat in oil, eggs, and flour with rotary beater or mixer on medium speed until batter is smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place until bubbly. Put in refrigerator overnight.

Stir down batter. Dip with a 1/4 cup measure and pour onto hot griddle - grease if necessary. Turn as soon as tops are bubbly. Bake to golden brown on other side. Serve at once.

Happy Monday. Hope your kitchen has wonderful aromas.

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