Monday, May 6, 2013

Homemade Apple Fritters


Homemade Apple Fritters
The drippy cinnamon glaze hardens to help crunchify the outside while the inside stays soft and fluffy with just the right amount of chew. 

I'm a typical Silicon Valley resident with a B.S. in Geek and an M.S. in Nerd, but at the moment, I'm not working as a professional Geek or Nerd, but as Mom. It takes some sacrifices to live in this area on one income; we can't save college money for the kids, we can't buy a house, and we share one car. But the one expense that we haven't restricted is our food budget. We wanted to feed ourselves and Gwen good quality food, so I usually have a ball at Whole Foods and buy whatever I want for myself and the family.

One day, out of curiosity, I checked our spending on mint.com to see if we could trim the fat anywhere. I was absolutely floored when I discovered that we had been spending around $1500/month on groceries! My daughter is only 2 and eats like a bird, and Blair eats free food at work, so the Fatty must have been me. Unbelievable! At this rate, I'll be eating organic blueberries all the way to the poor house.

Pink Ladies are tart and crisp like Granny Smiths, but with less of the acidic bite
So I decided to give up Whole Foods for Lent. For the entire month of March, I didn't enter that store once and as a result, I got the grocery bill down to $700. Phew, that's a little better. Now it's May and the spending experiment is long over, but I still only shop at the "Whole Paycheck" for specialty items. One of those specialty items was pure maple extract for the homemade maple bars, and the other was a bag of Pink Ladies for these apple fritters. Since we are far from apple season, many of the apples at the grocery stores are kind of skeezy right now, and they've all but disappeared from my farmer's market, so I figured it was worth the splurge for some good ones at "The Paycheck". I'm sure it's all in my perception...the delivery truck probably unloaded exactly the same apples at Smart and Final as Whole Foods. Meh.

I took my apples home, chopped them into 1 cm cubes and cooked them down with sugar and lemon juice. Then for the first time, I prepared the raised donut dough in the afternoon instead of in the middle of the night. I wanted the fritters to be fried and glazed in time to take them to dinner at my neighbor's house, so I skipped the first rise. Since the dough didn't sit as long, it didn't develop as much of a yeasty, bready taste, which was nice. I'm all about cutting corners (and expenses), so I think I may skip the first rise the next time I make raised donuts. The goal is not really to develop yeasty flavor but just to cut to the chase and get that dough big and FLUFFY!

How to make apple fritters
Eating a fresh apple fritter is an experience that you shouldn't miss in your life









INGREDIENTS to make 18 large fritters


Apple Filling
4 medium tart apples (granny smith or pink lady)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Dough
1 cup of very warm water (around 105° F)
1 tbsp granulated sugar (proofing) + 1/2 cup (dough)
3 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground mace
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 cups bread flour, sifted
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
lots of canola oil for frying - enough to fill your pot 2" deep

Cinnamon Glaze
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp powdered agar (This is a weird ingredient. Look for it at an Asian market or order online.)
2/3 cup water



DIRECTIONS


  1. Make the apple filling first. To do that, peel and core 4 medium-sized apples and chop them up into little 1 cm cubes. Add them to a saucepan with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Save the cinnamon for later, yo.
  2. Cook the apples, lemon juice and sugar in the saucepan over low-medium heat until apples are soft but not mushy, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Next you can start on the fritter dough. Boil some water, make yourself a cup of tea, then pour 1 cup of the hot water into the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Dissolve the 1 tbsp sugar in the hot water, pop in your thermometer and do some "mise-en-placing" (getting your wet and dry ingredients together (see next two steps)) while you wait for the water to cool to about 105° F.
  4.  In a large bowl, combine the 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp ground mace, 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt and 4 cups of bread flour, sifted. If you don't have a sifter, just whisk it all together to aerate and combine.
  5.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and the cubed butter to 2 large eggs and set that on deck to wait for its shining moment.
  6. Now at this point, the temperature of your hot water and sugar mixture should be close to 105° F, so spoon in the 3 tbsp of yeast into the mixer bowl and give it a few slow whirls with the paddle attachment to combine. Then take a swig of tea and think about what you want to eat for your next meal while you wait 5 minutes for the yeast to proof.
  7. After 5 minutes the yeast should be nice and bubbly. Flip on the mixer at low speed and add the eggy wet ingredients. It will take about a minute or so to break up the butter and combine everything into a nice, but gross-looking yeasty sludge.
  8. Next, add the dry ingredients, a cup at a time. After about half of dry ingredients, switch to the dough hook and add the rest of the dry ingredients, again at a cup at a time. Continue working the dough with the dough hook for about 2 minutes until the dough looks like a brain and picks up all of the little crumbs at the bottom.
  9. If you're ready for a break, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge for up to 2 hours, but not too long or the dough will develop a yeasty, bready taste. Otherwise, if you are ready to charge it, proceed to the next step!
  10. This is the fun part. Roll the dough out to a 1/2" thick rectangle. Then spread the cooked apple mixture on half of the rectangle, sprinkle with 2 tbsp cinnamon and fold the other half on top, sealing the apples in the dough. Using a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 1" slices, scramble the slices and form into about a 3-4" diameter log using floured hands. Slice again into 1" slices and arrange on two floured cookie sheets about 1"-2" apart.
  11. To construct the proofing chamber in your oven place a 9”x13” roasting pan on the bottom rack and then pour boiling water into it to fill it to about half way. Put the fritters on the top rack, uncovered and let them rise for 45 minutes.
  12. While the fritters are rising, the next step is to make the glaze. It might seem strange to make the glaze before you've fried your donuts, but you want to be sure your glaze is ready when the fritters are still hot. Combine the 4 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp corn syrup, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp vanilla extract in your mixer bowl and let it hang out there for a sec while you do the next step.
  13. In a small saucepan, heat the 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp powdered agar and 2/3 cup water on low-medium heat. Bring it to a boil to make a syrup and simmer for about a minute, whisking occasionally. By the way, powdered agar is a gelatin substitute that helps the glaze set and keeps it from sweating. I found it at my neighborhood Asian market, Ranch 99, but if you don't have the luxury of an Asian market nearby, just order it online.
  14. Flip on the mixer to medium, pour the sugar and agar syrup into the powdered sugar and company and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl to get all the sugar incorporated.
  15. Fill a medium saucepan with about 2" of water and heat it on the stove to an easy simmer. Remove your mixer bowl from the mixer and just plop the whole bowl in the water like a double boiler. If the glaze cools down below 88° F, the agar will set. No biggie, you just have to reheat and give it a good stir, but keeping it in the simmering water bath ensures that the glaze stays warm and liquidy and ready to go for glazing time.
  16. Next, take out a big stock pot and fill it 2” deep with canola oil, turn the heat on to medium, stick in a thermometer and wait for the oil to heat up to 340° F. You'll feel like the world’s most talented multi-tasker when the temperature hits 340° F right around the time that the fritters are done rising.
  17. Fry time! Using the metal spatula, carefully transfer the fritters from the cookie sheet into the oil. The fritters are pretty big, so you may have to fry one at a time to avoid overcrowding. They only need to be in the oil for about a minute on each side, so the frying process will be really fast.
  18. Glaze the fritters while they are still warm by dipping them fluffy-side down in the warm glaze. Turn them back over and let them cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!




5 comments:

  1. I want some! Apples are good for you.

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  2. An apple [fritter] a day, keeps the doctor away!

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  3. I've been looking for a good apple fritter recipe and this one sounds yummy. But what do you mean by 'scramble the slices' in step 10? For proofing, do you heat the oven at all or just the pan of boiling water? Hope to hear from you soon as I'd like to make these in a few days. Thanks!

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  4. Hi LuAnne! I think you're going to love these apple fritters. By "scramble the slices," think of that hat trick game where you have to follow the ball hidden under one of three hats as the hats interchange above, below, switch, etc. Like that :) (is that a terrible way to explain it?) For the proofing, don't turn on the oven or the fritters will bake and you don't want that because you want the cooking to happen during frying, which will create those wonderful chewy/fluffy air pockets. Good luck and let me know how they turn out!

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  5. Hi Misha! I'm really being dense because that still isn't sinking in, unless you mean sort of braiding the slices. But I guess the bottom line is that all of the 1" slices go together to become the 3-4" diameter log, right? I was wondering about the proofing because my oven has a 'proof' setting and I wasn't sure if I should use it or not but I'll keep the oven off. I'll let you know how they turn out…thanks!

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