409 Cherry Street
Columbia, PA 17512
Church Office 717-684-2711
Fastnacht Bake Talking Points
The annual Fastnacht Bake originated in 1924. This is our 89th year. It was an idea created by women
of the Altar Rosary Society, of the church, to raise money to help offset construction costs of a new church
- Church construction began in 1926 and was completed with a dedication and blessing in October, 1929.
- Fastnacht (FAHS-nahkt) is related to the Germanic word Fasten (to fast, abstain from eating). The
definition of fastnacht - a yeast-raised potato pastry that is deep-fried like a doughnut. Fastnachts were
originally made on Shrove Tuesday to use up the stored fat and lard that was forbidden during Lent.
- In the early days of the bake all ingredients were hand mixed and the fastnachts were fashioned from
molds originally made from tuna fish cans.
- Unsalted potatoes were used during Lent and the potato water was then used to make yeast. The potato
yeast would “work” for several hours before being mixed into the flour.
- Today the Fastnacht Bake has evolved into a parish project that includes about 116 men and women
volunteers. It is one of the largest fund raising efforts of the parish.
- January 25, 1989 the national spotlight was focused on the Fastnacht Bake. NBC’s Willard Scott, from
the TODAY Show, originated all of his weather segments “live” from Holy Trinity in Columbia.
- The process of making fastnachts begins with the Night Crew. Approximately 20 to 25 volunteers
measure, weigh and mix the ingredients producing on average 56 batches. The dough is poured into large
metal cans. These are then placed in the “warming closet” to allow the dough to rise during the night.
The army of rollers begin arriving at 4:00am to start rolling, shaping and cutting the dough into
fastnachts. Each batch or can of dough will produce approximately 11.4 dozen. After shaping and
cutting the fastnachts they are placed on long cloth covered boards for further rising. When the
fastnachts are properly raised they are transferred to the frying area.
Other volunteers arrive around 5:30am to operate the fryers. Six frying units will be in continuous
operation for six hours. After frying in a cholesterol free substance they reach the peak of
perfection and are placed in cooling trays. The next step is the glazing process, which is all done
Still other volunteers handle the sorting, counting and bagging, in preparation for pickup by the
public or delivery to area factories and other places of business.
- Fastnachts are baked on Monday, February 20, Shrove Tuesday, February 21 and Ash Wednesday,
February 22. After that, there are four weeks of bakes during Lent, on Mondays and Wednesdays only.
The last bake is Wednesday, March 21st.
- More than seven thousand dozen fastnachts are produced during the Lenten Season.
The operation takes place in the Holy Trinity Parish Center, 4th and Cherry Streets, Columbia, site of Our
Lady of the Angels School.
- Fastnachts must be pre-ordered by dialing 717-684-0487. Telephone lines are open between 9:00am
and 6:00pm, Monday through Friday, beginning, Monday February 13th.
- Plain fastnachts sell for $5.50 per dozen and $2.75 per half-dozen. Glazed are $6.50 a dozen and $3.50
- Orders must be picked up at the Parish Center between 10:00am and 1:00pm on the designated days. All
orders not claimed by 1:00pm will be sold.
Secret to success –
- Family tradition
- Parish Unity
- Each volunteer considers the Bake a labor of love.
- Our secret recipe that makes Holy Trinity’s the best tasting fastnacht in the world. . . . Ask Our
Evenings before a bake - About 25 workers weighing flour, salt, sugar, etc. and the mixing of the dough.
They usually work between 5:00 and 9:00pm.
Mornings of the bake - Rollers are well working anytime after 4:00am and continue until 9:30am.
Volunteers turning fastnachts in the Fry Room are in position between 5:30 and 11:30am. Sorters and
baggers are busy between 6:00am and Noon.