Eat it

Zach’s Fastnachts

We’ve got a special edition of EAT IT to go with this special Zach Miller issue of POSSESSED. Instead of making up a recipe for something really cool, like, I don’t know... Turbo Town Gnar-Gnar Power Pancakes™ (tune in next month for Turbo Town Gnar-Gnar Power Pancakes™), we asked Zach if he had any recipes from his neck of the woods that he could share. Here’s what Zach said: 

‘Yeah! Here’s a recipe for the “Pennsylvania Dutch” style donuts my girlfriend, Jess, and I are known for making and giving away at races. We’ve given these away at Hardrock, the Lake Sonoma 50, etcetera, and I grew up eating them as a kid. They’re part of a Lancaster County (Pennsylvania) tradition and are eaten on “Fastnacht Day” (also known as Mardi Gras). I started marking them when I lived at Barr Camp in Colorado so that the other caretakers and I could celebrate Fastnacht Day while living off the grid. Now I make them all year round and share them with tons of people!’ 

What You'll Need

• 1 packet of yeast

• 1⁄2 cup of warm water

• 1 teaspoon of sugar

• 1 cup of hot mashed potatoes

• 1 cup of sugar

• 1 cup of water that the potatoes were boiled in (lukewarm)

• 1 cup of all-purpose flour

• Another cup of sugar

• 1 cup of lukewarm water or milk

• 3⁄4 cup of melted butter

• 3 eggs, beaten (severely) 

• 1 teaspoon of salt

• 5 cups-ish of sifted flour 


1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water with 1 tsp of sugar. Then mix the potatoes, sugar, potato water, flour, and yeast water. Let rise in a warm place for several hours. This warm place could be your oven—not on, though. Preheat it, switch it off, and let it cool down. That’s a warm place.

2. Now add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup lukewarm water (or milk if you’re into that), 3/4 cup melted butter, 3 eggs, salt, and roughly 5 cups flour for stiff dough. Turn the mix onto a well-floured board and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Add a small amount of extra flour if necessary so the dough can be handled without sticking to your fingers. 

3. Get a large bowl. Grease the large bowl. Place the dough in the large, greased bowl. Now cover the bowl with a thin towel or vintage Daisy Chainsaw t-shirt and let rise in a warm, not-too-drafty place for about 2 hours, or until it’s at least double in size. Then you can move on to the next step or let it rise for another hour or two. Up to you. 

4. Next, roll the dough to about 3/4-inch thickness and cut it up into the traditional fastnacht diamond shapes with a knife, and then cut a slit across the top of each fastnacht with your knife. It’s a tradition. Do it.

5. Now, let your fastnacht babies rise, covered, in the ol’ warm place till they’re springy to the touch. When they’re good and puffy, drop them with the raised side down into oil that is hot enough to burn your fingers so bad you’ll never play the piano again—somewhere around 375°F (190.5°C).

6. Fry on both sides, then remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to cool a little. Dust with icing sugar and begin feasting on Zach's Fastnachts!