1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk, lukewarm
1/2 cup sugar, plus a pinch
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup mashed potatoes (I used dried real potato flakes mixed with water)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
Oil for frying (or traditionally, lard)
Powdered sugar, for dusting
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk, add a pinch of sugar and whisk together. Set aside in a warm place to rise, 5 to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour, mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Add the yeast mixture, butter and beaten egg. Mix together until combined.
Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead until the dough is elastic and not sticky, about 3 to 4 minutes. Roll out dough about 1/2-inch thick and cut into squares (I used a round biscuit cutter, though squares are traditional).
Place the cut doughnuts on a floured cookie sheet, cover with a cloth, and let rise 30 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a deep, heavy saucepan with high sides, pour oil about 3 inches deep. Bring to 360-375 degrees F over medium heat.
Working in batches, fry fasnacht until puffed and golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.
If filling with lemon or other fruit jam, use a kitchen knife to cut an opening in the fasnacht and stuff with a spoonful or two of filling.
Once cool, dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
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