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Jul 3, 2008 11:02 AM

German Easter eggs

My great grandmother would dye Easter eggs in onion skins and they turned a rich brown. How could I achieve this color on eggs? Also - she made a donut ( I never met her - only heard these stories) at Easter. I do not know German - but sounded like 'fas na coogan.' Would anyone know what I am talking about and would anyone know a recipe?

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  1. You said it yourself on the eggs: boil up a bunch of the outer dry skins of onions in water and dye your eggs in the solution.

    The recipe you are looking for is Fastnachtkuchen, a deep fried donut from Berlin that can be filled with jelly or not, as you wish; here is one recipe for about 30 doughnuts:

    1 envelope dry yeast
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 cup milk
    1/3 cup butter
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    grated zest of one lemon
    3 egg yolks
    3 to 4 cups of flour
    oil or melted butter
    1 1/2 cups apricot jam or other jam or jelly
    fat for deep frying
    Vanilla sugar

    Mix the yeast with a little water according to package instructions, let stand until bubbly. Scald the milk. Cream the butter with sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add scalded milk and stir until the butter melts. When cooled to lukewarm mix in the egg yolks, 1 cup of the flour and the dissolved yeast. Add remaining flour gradually until the dough is soft and light but smooth and not sticky. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until elastic and smooth. Shape into a ball and place in floured bowl. Brush the top of the dough with oil or a bit of melted butter, cover with a kitchen towel and set it to rise in a warm, draft-free place. Let it rise one hour, or until doubled in bulk.

    Punch down and roll out on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thick, and cut in rounds with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Put a generous dab or jam or jelly in the center of half the circles, top each with a plain circle of dough and pinch the edges together with a bit of water or egg white.

    Cover with a towel and let rise about 45 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Heat fat for deep frying to 365 degrees and deep-fry the donuts a few at a time, keeping the temperature of the fat constant. Fry about 3 minutes on the first side, then turn to brown the second side. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. When the doughnuts are cool, dredge with sugar.

    If you wish to make these without any jam filling, in stead of rolling out the dough punch it down after is has risen and pinch off lime-sized pieces of the dough; let rise until double in bulk and fry.

    2 Replies
    1. re: janniecooks

      Many, many thanks for going to all the trouble of writing the recipe and give me the correct spelling . I am writing and illustrating a book called Tea with Grandma for a presentation and also as a huge surprise for all the women in the family - their Christmas gift. I am starting it with all the grandmothers in my family that I have record of and ending it with my granddaughters. Your amazing help will now allow me to add the recipe for the Fastnachtkuchen that my mothers grandmother made. This tiny lady apparently spoke no English, only German. I am also including my Irish great grandmother's tea time recipes ( Father's side) but I doubt if they had much more than bread during the potatoe famine - that's why they came to America. Again, many thanks, I wish you well.

      1. re: klmsfd

        I'm so glad that I could share what you were looking for; what a lovely post you wrote! The gift book that you are planning will surely be appreciated by you family. I did a similar book of photos and recipes of my mother's that no one else in the family had. After she passed away everybody missed her so terribly and regretted that they weren't able to recreate the foods she cooked for us growing up, so to feel her presence, so I compiled them all in a book in her memory. My family was overwhelmed and so grateful and happy with the book. No doubt your family too will be surprised and overwhelmed with your great gift. Best of luck with it!

    2. I recall that Martha Stewart did a show - at least 5 years ago - featuring onion skins and other natural dyes for Easter eggs, so that info must be on her site somewhere.

      The Fastnachtskuchen (this is the correct spelling - it means Fast Nights Cake) of my childhood were triangular unfilled doughnuts, pretty much the same as a Dunkin Donuts sugar-raised, save for the shape. All the German bakeries had them during Lent, the "fast" part meaning the deprivation of giving up the jelly filling.

      1. For a marbled effect, wrap each egg in overlapping layers of yellow onion skins, wrap in cheesecloth, secure with string. Cook as usual. Run cold water over and remove the skins.

        1. Do a web search for natural easter egg dies. There are all sorts of things you can use to make natural dies. My son and I did it for a school project several years ago. You can use regular Spanish onion skins for brown die and red onion skins for a more purple color. I seem to remember that you boiled the skins (or other vegetable matter) and also added some vinegar to help set the color.

          1. For the moment, "fas na" doesn't ring any chimes in my world. But the "coogan" (Kuchen in German) is simply a word meaning cake. It's used rather universally, I've even heard it used to describe cookies. I'll see what I can do with the "fas na" ... but it may take a while.
            OK, it didn't take as long as I expected. I think you're looking for FASTNACHTS KUCHEN, or just Fastnachts (which are a drop donut) - let me know if there's more info. needed.