Schwäbische scherben, or Swabish shards, are a fried, Swabian pastry sprinkled with powdered sugar. They’re eaten during the pre-Lenten fasnet (or fasnacht, or fastnacht, depending on the spelling). Larissa Veronesi, Tübingen resident and fellow blogger) encouraged me to try this recipe in the comments of my Welcome to Tübingen post, so I used her photo of the pastries she made at home as a guide: golden, diamond-shaped pieces of dough just slightly less done in the middle, dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
After searching around for a recipe (I keep typing rezept—German recipes are great teachers of vocabulary!), I discovered that there are fried treats eaten throughout Germany to celebrate the festivities (and to use up the fat in the home before Lent). In fact, the famous berliner, the jelly-filled doughnut sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar used to only be made as a treat for holidays. I’d read that the Swabian version of the fried pastry was similar to the berliner, except without a filling and traditionally made into a diamond shape.
Frying dough sounded very intimidating since I’d never done it before, but this actually has been the easiest recipe I’ve made thus far. It’s just as easy as making sugar cookies! I used this recipe from Lisa, which is in German and very easy to follow with Google Translate. I’ll provide the conversions for the ingredients below, as I’ve already done the work.
- 2 Eier
- 50 g Zucker
- 1 TL Vanilleextrakt
- 2 EL saure Sahne
- Prise Salz
- 250 g Mehl
- Zimtzucker zum Bestreuen
TL is an abbreviation for Teelöffel, which means teaspoon in English. EL is the abbreviation for Esslöffel which means tablespoon in English. All of this means, then:
- 2 eggs
- 3/8 cup (a little less than half a cup) sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- a pinch of salt
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- powdered sugar for dusting
I was expecting these to taste like fried dough or thin donuts, but they actually tasted more like chrusciki, Polish fried pastries—except slightly less crispy and a little bit denser inside (this may be just how I made them, without a deep fryer). Very good, very quick, and very easy. I recommend trying these.
Have you tried these pastries? What did they taste like to you?
Many cultures throughout the world celebrate the days preceding Lent with parades and treats—Carnival in Brazil, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and Karneval in Germany, for example. The Swabian culture has its own style of pre-Lenten celebration—Fastnacht (sometimes spelled Fasnacht)—
with Perchtenlauf, the run of the Perchts, or creatures (actually, I’ve been told that this is a tradition specific to Austria and Bavaria. In Tübingen, the creatures are called Häs). Tübingen has traditionally been a Protestant village, and has only begun celebrating the borrowed Catholic festival in recent years (thanks again to Larissa for the corrections!).
Although this tradition is not native to Tübingen, I found it interesting that there are two types of Perchts—the Schönperchten, the beautiful creatures (representing the coming spring) and the Schiachperchten, the ugly creatures (representing the winter). What’s interesting is that the origin of this word is Perchta, the pagan, Alpine goddess of spinning who appears as either an old, toothless woman to drive out evil, or as a young, beautiful woman with a white dress.
The holiday falls in the traditional, spirit-filled time between winter and spring considered Rauhnächte, or rough nights. Parades of wooden-masked creatures, both ugly and beautiful, distribute flowers and candy in the streets. It’s becoming popular to borrow costumes from the other carnival festivals, including modern, Halloween-like costumes—at least from what I see on Instagram— but the traditional costumes with the wooden masks are still used in the parades. Often, these costumes have antique masks are passed down through the generations.