Kinkling Day has earned a spot on the calendar in Frederick, Md.

By: David Ibata

The Salvation Army Home League in Frederick, Maryland, posted a notice to Facebook with photos of what appeared to be delicious pastries, some frying in a pot, others coated with powdered sugar: “Kinkling Sale: $8 Dozen.”

All right, I’ll bite. What’s a kinkling?

“A kinkling is a German doughnut,” said Wanda Fultz, Home League treasurer in Frederick. “It’s made with yeast, dough and potatoes, and it’s fried. It’s to rid the house of lard and sugar and stuff like that for Lent.”

Similar to the Louisiana French beignet and Polish paczki, kinklings are a German culinary tradition made once a year on “Shrove Tuesday,” the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Their purpose is to use up pantry items that according to some religious traditions cannot be eaten during Lent.

Some years ago, a Maryland veterinarian was called to treat a horse that had eaten a box of kinklings. She described in a blog post her first encounter with the food: “This thing was two inches thick, bigger around than my hand, and heavy enough to be used as a blunt weapon.”

The horse recovered.

The word “kinkling” apparently is peculiar to the Frederick area. Other German-American communities in Maryland, Pennsylvania and elsewhere call them “Fasnachts” or “Fastnachts.”

“They’re generally sold on Shrove Tuesday, which is Mardi Gras, but because we don’t have enough workers who are retired, we do it the Saturday before,” Fultz said. “We only make 100 dozen. We don’t have enough people to do more.”

The Home League fry-off started more than 20 years ago with three soldiers: Mary McFarland and Evelyn Smith, both of whom have passed, and Mary Schmidt, who will be 102 in July.

Kinkling Day at the Frederick Corps starts at 4 a.m. Saturday with mixing – flour, mashed potatoes, milk, eggs, sugar, yeast and other ingredients – followed by kneading, dough rising, punching down, rolling out, cutting squares, more dough rising and, finally, frying in vegetable oil heated to 370 degrees until each piece is golden brown on both sides.

The most time-consuming part in the early years was to boil, peel and mash at least 40 pounds of potatoes. “We’ve gone to instant mashed potatoes,” Fultz said. “The dough is really smooth; it just comes out a whole lot better.”

“When people buy them in bakeries, they’re normally square with a slit in the middle. We cut ours square, but as they rise, they spread out. By the time they’re finished, they’re about the size of your hand, and rectangular. After they’re fried, we put them on racks for the oil to drain off, and then use powdered sugar to powder them up.”

The Home Leaguers go until the last batch is sold around 3 p.m.

It’s their biggest fundraiser of the year; the group raised nearly $700 on Feb. 10 to go toward a Maryland-West Virginia Division mission project in Mexico.

So how much heft does one of these things have? Fultz laughed. “I’ve never weighed one. I’ve just told people don’t go near the water after you eat them.”