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Lydia’s Fetschpatze (Fat Sparrows)

I have no shortage of ways to use the last of the sour cream or yogurt as it drifts past its expiry date (provided it’s not growing tiny Muppets on its surface, yes) – I stir it into pancake, waffle, muffin and banana bread batter, or make scones… I make green sauce or toss it in the freezer. But ladies and gents, we have a new contender… these tiny, tender fritters I came across in the great Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks (if you’re Canadian, you may remember it) – and though I didn’t think I needed a go-to fritter in my repertoire, it turns out I did.

They’re light and tender, not as heavy as most cake doughnut holes. And did I mention you can stir them up with a fork? And then drop by the the small spoonful into about an inch of hot oil to make fritters that are about a million times better than any Timbit. They remind me of the corn fritters at Chicken-on-the-Way, which are bigger and crunchier, served warm by the bag, with a side of liquid honey for 25 cents. A handful of cornmeal added to the batter will produce something similar, I’m sure of it.

Though I added precise measurements because I know some of you like having them to follow, I followed the general directions that ran in Edna’s story, Those Mouth-Watering Mennonite Meals, which ran in Maclean’s magazine in April of 1954:

1 beaten egg
a little salt
1 cup sour cream or sour milk
1 round teaspoon of soda
flour to stiffen

That’s it. And it works! Seriously delicious for a late summer breakfast (even if you’re out at the cottage and the kitchen is equipped with little more than mixing bowls and forks) to nibble on the patio with coffee. You could even stir in some finely chopped peaches…

Lydia’s Fetschpatze (Fat Sparrows)

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August 9, 2019


1 large egg

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

canola oil, for cooking

honey or maple syrup, for serving


1In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and sour cream. Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt - you should have something the consistency of muffin batter.

2Pour about an inch of oil into a heavy, shallow pot set over medium-high heat and when it's hot (a bit of batter should sizzle), drop the batter in by the small spoonful. (I used two small tea spoons - one to scoop and the other to scrape. They will puff up as they cook.) Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning with tongs or a slotted spoon as they turn golden. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and serve warm, drizzled with honey or maple syrup. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen fetschpatze.


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17 comments on “Lydia’s Fetschpatze (Fat Sparrows)

  1. Alicen
    August 9, 2019 at 10:02 am

    Oh my! I might have some sour cream sitting in my fridge at home right now….
    These look so delish, and you make them sound so darn easy!

    • Julie
      August 11, 2019 at 10:57 am

      SO ridiculously easy!!

  2. Carol S-B
    August 9, 2019 at 10:02 am

    I have “More food that really Schmecks”. Edna Staebler writes well, doesn’t she?
    These look delicious… and I love the name. Fat sparrows!
    Someday I’d like to propose a book exchange program: lend each other a favourite cookbook (and that way each person has a ‘hostage’ so they get their own favourite back 🙂 )… keep it for a week. Have a book return coffee klatch with a recipe from the book.

    • Julie
      August 11, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Yes!! this is a brilliant idea!!

  3. Patricia
    August 9, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Delicious, don’ have any sour cream but the store is close. Thank you

    • Julie
      August 11, 2019 at 10:57 am

      I imagine yogurt would work well too!

  4. Julie R
    August 9, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I haven’t made this recipe from Edna Staebler even though I have 3 cookbooks of hers. Food that Really Schmecks, More Food That Really Schmecks and Schmecks Appeal. I have made many of her recipes over the years and now I will try this one. Her recipe for 5 Star Peach Pie is out of this world good.

  5. Ian Mcarthur
    August 12, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Hi Julie, Wow Edna Staebler! I have derived so much pleasure reading her books front to back. Often revisiting them when I want a bit of homespun recipe telling. I’m one of those people who would rather read a good cookbook than a novel any day. Your blog is similar in that your recipes always include a story behind them. Don’t get me wrong ,in the end the food is the main attraction . But the stories are another ingredient that adds to the flavour of the recipes in a most enjoyable way . Cheers.

    • Julie
      August 19, 2019 at 9:01 am

      So glad to hear it, Ian!

  6. Dianna
    August 12, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Thanks for the recipe and yes, I just made the 5 Star Peach Pie (again) this past weekend – we have to have it at least once every summer. In the fall I always make Julie’s Upside Down Pear Gingerbread – and Edna’s Zucchini Cake (from More Food that Really Schmecks). I love fruit cake but never quite get around to making it. The Zucchini Cake covers all the bases – ginger, citrus, nuts covered with cream cheese icing. It seems a lot less time consuming and stressful to make than fruitcake but with all the great aromas and flavours.

    • Julie
      August 19, 2019 at 9:01 am

      Excellent points – and some of my favourites!

  7. eva
    September 2, 2019 at 1:20 am

    I will be getting a copy of Edna Staebler’s” Food That Really Schmecks” and will share with friends.Thank you so much! ? Great recipes!? (I made a mistake earlier S/B —> https//simplysplendidfoods.ca

    • Julie
      September 2, 2019 at 10:25 am

      Great to hear!

  8. Kelly
    January 12, 2020 at 10:34 am

    This reminds me of our traditional Dutch new years treat of Olibollen. It is a yeast dough and we
    add pieces of apple or currant to it
    Then we deep fry and roll in icing sugar!

    • Julie
      January 14, 2020 at 3:40 pm

      Oooh, that sounds delicious!!

  9. Bruce Davidson
    April 8, 2020 at 10:21 am

    We were married in 1975, and my wife Sandee, a nurse, worked 12 hour shifts. I had to soon learn to cook if we were to eat before 9-10 each night. Edna’s cookbooks were my answer and have been my go-to friends for 45 years. She taught me to cook in a relaxed fashion with “a little salt and enough flour to stiffen.” I’ve cooked through just about all of her recipes and recently I’ve sought out copies of the set at used book stores, and given them to our 3 sons as most precious gifts. Edna was/is a national treasure.

    Despite my enthusiasm, I never tried the sparrows, nor deep fried cooking at all. Sandee was a coronary care ICU nurse then and our diet has reflected that. I finally attempted them from the book unsuccessfully last November with too little oil. They turned out like tire patches. I stumbled on your post in March and … success! They looked just like yours! A second try today (Covid-19 Isolation day 25) and eureka, even easier! What threat does a little fat present at my age in the context of current affairs?!

    Thanks Julie! btw Who is Lydia?

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