Inkling for a kinkling?

From left, Chris Ott, Shirley Phillips and Peg Shaver cook kinklings in preparation for Mardi Gras at the Adamstown Grange hall. The women, members of the Carroll Manor Fire Co. auxiliary cooked several dozen of the fried treats last Thursday morning.

ADAMSTOWN -- Kinklings are a Frederick County Shrove Tuesday tradition, and next Tuesday morning, the Carroll Manor Fire Co. will be filled to the brim with this sweet, doughy concoction.

Also known as fastnachts, these treats can be found throughout the Mid-Atlantic wherever Germans settled America in large numbers in the 19th century. Every Mardi Gras, families would find ways to use up all the fat in the household before the lean days of Lent. Kinklings fit the bill, then and now.

Squares of yeasty dough about 3 inches across are dropped into frying pans of boiling oil. The dough quickly puffs out until it resembles a tiny, tufted pillow.

Each square is scored with a pizza cutter before being deep-fried, which gives the kinklings their tufted look. Most are dusted with confectioners' sugar while still warm.

Last week, Shirley Phillips, Peg Shaver, Chris Ott and Martha Houck did a dry run of Phillips' kinkling recipe to get ready for the big day, or night, actually. These women, all members of the fire company and auxiliary, will be among 32 volunteers who will help the fire company's auxiliary churn out 500 dozen kinklings in the space of 16 hours, Monday night to Tuesday morning. They'll start at 6:30 p.m. Monday, and by 10 a.m. on Shrove Tuesday, they expect all the kinklings will be sold.

None of them knows where the name kinkling originated, but they said kinkling is heard mostly in and around Frederick. Farther west in Maryland, and over the line in Pennsylvania, the word fastnacht, German for "fast night," is more typical.

"My mother called them fastnachts," Shaver said.

"This is something we came home to every Shrove Tuesday," Phillips said. Shaver grew up in Frederick, but spent 30 years in Ohio while her children were growing up before she moved back to the area. She carried on the kinkling tradition, however.

"When the kids were asked, 'What was your tradition?' they'd say, 'Whenever we have a blizzard, Mommy makes kinklings,'" Shaver said. Then they'd pack them, still warm, in paper bags to deliver to the neighbors.

The volunteers will continue this tradition, filling paper bags with the warm kinklings, to be picked up on the morning of Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday. Commuters bound for the Washington train, office workers in Frederick and individuals will pick up bags of the kinklings.

Kinklings are not doughnuts, Phillips said. The yeasty dough is not nearly as sweet. The only variation in the kinkling recipe is the use of mashed potatoes. "I remember my grandmother using mashed potatoes," she said, but her mother's family recipe did not include potatoes. Shaver uses mashed potatoes in her recipe.

The Carroll Manor kinklings will be made with Phillips' mother's recipe. That calls for milk, a small amount of sugar, a little salt, flour, yeast, warm water, eggs and shortening. Phillips does not want to give away the proportions of her recipe.

She did say she uses powdered milk to make the process easier. "I had this created for my KitchenAid dough hook," she said. The auxiliary uses an industrial-sized mixer with a dough hook.

The dough rises, is punched down and then cut into squares. The squares of dough are placed on cookie sheets, where they rise a second time. At home, Phillips fries them in a large skillet in about an inch of oil that has come to a full rolling boil. In a few minutes, they turn to a shade of light brown.

The crispy, golden kinklings are lifted out of the oil and rolled in powdered sugar before being set out on racks to cool. They are then piled on plates, ready to be bagged or served.

Kinklings are not only fun, but also can bring in some much-needed money for the fire company in this era of budget cuts. Two years ago, the kinkling sale raised $4,300. That year, volunteers made 800 dozen. "That was exhausting," Phillips said. "We didn't have enough help that night. This year, we're cutting it off at 500 dozen."

The kinkling fundraisers began for Carroll Manor in 2006, and the women want it to continue as an annual fundraiser. They took a break last year, but said that was an anomaly.

This year, the fire company has a new, industrial-sized fryer for dinners and breakfasts. Volunteers will carry cookie sheets full of squares of dough outside to the fryer, which will be housed under a tent. There, other volunteers will man the fryer.

"We have a lot of fun while doing this," Shaver said. "If not, we'd go insane."

Staying up all night is part of the fun. "You get past that certain hour, and everything is all right," Houck said.

Reviving a tradition

Sharon Hoffman, who lives on Old Receiver Road in Frederick, is reviving the tradition of the kinkling fundraiser for the Old Receiver United Civic Association. She and other volunteers will make kinklings starting at about 1 a.m. Saturday. The finished treats will be ready to be picked up starting at noon.

She uses her family recipe, consisting of flour, eggs, sugar, milk, yeast and mashed potatoes. To make it easier to make a large quantity, she'll use instant mashed potato flakes.

Hoffman's family is from Middletown, and kinklings in her family go back as far as she can remember. Usually they are reserved for Shrove Tuesday, but occasionally in winter, she'll make a small batch.

The money raised will go toward upkeep of the Civic Association's Community Building and accompanying ball field.


2 cups milk

1/3 cup lard or oil

3/4 cup sugar

8 cups flour, approx.

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 yeast cake

Bring milk and lard to boiling point (do not boil). Stir in sugar and salt and let cool to lukewarm. Beat eggs and add to milk. Soak yeast cake in 2 tablespoons warm water and keep warm. Sift and measure flour. Combine yeast and liquid; add enough flour until able to handle easily. Knead well by punching, stretching and folding it over itself; knead well until snappy. Let rise overnight. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness, cut into 2-inch squares and make a slit in center. Cover and let rise 45 minutes. Fry in deep fat until brown. While warm, roll in sugar.

Recipe from


1 cup potatoes, mashed

2 1/2 cups water

1 cup sugar

2 packages dry yeast

4 eggs

5 pounds of flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 pint warm milk

1/2 pound butter, melted

Combine potatoes (mashed), water, sugar and dry yeast. Let raise for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, then knead. Add more flour, if needed. Deep fry.

Recipe from

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