Apple Fritter Doughnuts

apple-fritters

One of the kitchen gadgets I use least often is the mini deep-fryer– it’s perfect for frying up a batch of chicken tenders, or an experimental batch of cronuts (I promise I’ll blog about those someday), but then you’re left with a bunch of oil you don’t know what to do with, and it’s a pain to dispose of, so I rarely go to the trouble. Still, once you’ve fried one thing, you may as well fry a bunch of things to avoid waste, so after my husband made some of the aforementioned chicken tenders that’s what I decided to do. But what to make?

I ran through the possibilities in my head, discarding some for being too involved, others for being too boring, and kept coming back to apple fritters. I love apple fritters, but almost never buy them because I invariably get distracted by the chocolate-covered old-fashioned donuts that are my favorites. But I’d faithfully bookmarked the recipe at some point, and when I came across it on my computer it was like fate was telling me that now was the time!

Some apple fritter recipes just use a baking-powder-raised batter to dredge raw apples in before frying, but I picked this recipe because it called for sauteéing the apples in butter and sugar (always a plus), before wrapping them up in a yeast-raised dough (better texture).

The finished fritters turned out tasty, but not quite what I was looking for– the ratio of apples to dough was a bit off– too many apples, which meant that some of the fritters literally fell apart in the fryer without enough dough to hold everything together. I wonder if I’d used a batter, would things have held together better with the same total amount of flour? The glaze, on the other hand, was perfect– when brushed generously onto warm fritters it hardened into a perfect shell, holding the otherwise fragile fritters together until you bit into it, resulting in a glorious mouthful of apples, which were the real star of the show.

All in all I may try these again in the fall, but this time with a wetter dough to hopefully hold everything together in one piece!

Apple Fritter Doughnuts (slightly adapted from the Kitchn)

Makes 24 small fritters

For the apple filling:
2 1/2 pounds (about 5 whole) Granny Smith apples
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

For the dough:
1 packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prep the apples: Core, peel, and chop apples into small pieces. Submerge them in ice-cold water with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Set aside or refrigerate (for up to 24 hours) until ready to use.

Make the dough: Whisk together the yeast, 3 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer. With a dough hook and the mixer on low speed, mix in the milk, followed by the eggs. Continue mixing until the dough gathers into a ball around dough hook, 2 to 4 minutes.

Continue mixing the dough, and add in the butter one tablespoon at time. Allow each tablespoon of butter to combine into the dough before adding another. If dough starts to fall away from the dough hook, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes back together before adding in next butter piece.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

apple-fritters-dough-rise

Make the apple filling while the dough rises: Heat the butter for the filling in a skillet over medium-high heat until butter turns light brown and smells nutty. Drain the apples and add them to the pan with the butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and cook until slightly softened. Add in vinegar and cook until liquid is reduced by half and apples are tender. Set aside to cool.

apple-fritters-filling

Assemble the fritters: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Take half of your apple filling and put it on half of the dough. Fold the dough over to encase the filling and rotate the dough pocket 90 degrees. Roll out again to original size, then repeat with the remaining apples.

apple-fritters-roll

Roll dough just a little to press everything down, then use a bench scraper to cut the dough into 1 1/2″ squares. Gather 3-4 of the squares together with floured hands (they’ll be very wet and sticky) and press together into a rough patty shape. Place shaped fritters on a parchment-lined baking sheet and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 30 minutes or until the fritters puff up.

apple-fritters-squares

Make the glaze: Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Stir in the milk and vanilla until smooth. Set aside; warm in the microwave in 10-second bursts if the glaze starts to harden.

Deep-fry the fritters: Heat 6 to 7 inches of oil to 360°F in a large Dutch oven. Meanwhile, line a wire rack with paper towels.

Carefully lower 3 to 4 fritters into the hot oil. Fritters will float and not sink. Fry on one side for 30 to 60 seconds or until golden brown, then flip the fritter and fry the other side for 30 to 60 seconds or until golden brown. Remove fritter with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on prepared wire rack. Repeat with the remaining fritters. (Between batches, make sure the oil temperature returns to 360°F and remove any floating pieces of dough or apples.)

Let fritters cool slightly, then brush the glaze on top. Serve immediately.

apple-fritters-glaze

Notes:

  1. I actually put my dough in the refrigerator overnight after kneading and then brought it out to rise the next morning. This may have been a mistake, as it took forever to warm up again, and didn’t save me all that much time in the long run. It did rise eventually, after I’d left it in the oven on the “Proofing” setting for almost two hours. The shaped fritters hardly rose at all, though, which may have been caused by the slow initial rise.
  2. I chose to make my fritters small (unlike the gargantuan ones you get at donut shops) because I only had a small deep fryer. You can make them larger but they’ll take longer to cook.
  3. It is crucial that you use Granny Smith for these. If the apple is less firm it’ll turn into applesauce during the pre-cooking stage, and the tartness was so important to counteract the sweetness of the added sugar and the glaze. So make sure you use Granny Smith! No substitutions!
  4. Since there was no way my family was going to eat 24 fritters, even small ones, I froze half of the shaped fritters before frying. I’m told that if I thaw them and let them rise a little I can fry them and they’ll be just like the originals. Fingers crossed!
  5. If you brush the glaze on while the fritters are warm, it’ll  flow over the fritter, into nooks and crannies, and harden into a semi-transparent shell. If you wait until the fritters are cool, the glaze will stay white and will basically stay where you put it. I prefer the former, but you may prefer the latter effect.
  6. Just like Ma Ingalls’s Vanity Cakes, I had an issue with the fritters tasting a bit oily. Since I have an extra frozen batch I think I’ll try frying them in melted shortening next time, to see if this makes a difference.

 

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