It’s Friday. Which means…donuts! Or in this case, FRITTERS! Which are basically free-form donuts. And they are DELICIOUS.
These donuts are all about perseverance. “Donuts? Perseverance?” you ask. Yes. It took me three (THREE!) failed attempts and one successful one to bring you these apple cider fritters. What can I say? I’m a tad stubborn.
When I first envisioned apple cider donuts for the blog, I was picturing something of the yeasted variety. Fluffy, airy, and covered in an oh-so-decadent apple cider glaze. You know. Grown up donuts. When that failed TWICE with two different adapted recipes, I attempted yet another yeasted donut dough but planned to fill them with an apple cider cream similar to that of Boston cream donuts. That was probably the biggest flop of them all. It took me three tries to figure out that maybe, just maaaaybe, there was something wrong with the batch of yeast I was using. I buy it in bulk in the little glass jars (instead of the more expensive single-serve packets) because I use it ALL THE TIME for pizza dough. I’ve had jars expire on me before. This one, however, was supposed to be good for another year…but I’m convinced something was wrong with it.
I mean, I’m no baking expert by any stretch of the imagination, but even I know something is up when three different yeasted doughs yield hard, chewy little bricks instead of airy, fluffy donuts. I was left feeling frustrated and spent. I had wasted a ton of ingredients and had attempted to deep fry in my kitchen (a true rarity) three different times without success. To say I was feeling defeated would be an understatement.
And then I remembered the Italian way to do donuts. Zeppole! Or fritters, if you’re not in Italy. Of course! They are so much easier and don’t require any finicky yeast to yield a delicious donut when all is said and done. They start out with a classic pate a choux dough, which is really just a fancy French way to say “egg and butter pastry,” which can be flavored in a bajillion different ways and then scooped into hot oil in a simple, free-form way to give you little fried donut fritters! It’s also used for eclairs, cream puffs, profiteroles, and tons of other French pastries.
It may sound intimidating, because really, French anything can be intimidating…but it really is an incredibly simple dough to make. Dare I say it…it could be considered FOOL PROOF. And if I can believe in that after going through a quart of apple cider and a bag of flour on my failed donut attempts, you should too.
I flavored this particular dough with apple cider, grated apple, and a smidge of cinnamon and then fried it up by dropping little cooke scoops of the dough into hot oil. Within minutes, I had piping hot and fresh apple fritters! I dunked said fritters in a lemony apple cider glaze and dusted them with powdered sugar. The lemon was the perfect accent to tone down the overt sweetness just a tad. It sort of brightened things up, which I love when it comes to anything fried. Even my lemon-avoiding husband thought it added an awesome flavor to the finished product.
To say I was comforted by the success of this recipe would also be an understatement. In my mind, Dashboard Confessional’s “Vindicated” was playing on repeat. They were absolutely fantastic and everything I had originally hoped for when the apple cider donut brainchild was conceived. Sure, they may not have been as grown up and “fancy” as yeasted donuts, but at least I had something delicious to show you guys.
Happy Friday, friends. Add these fritters to your weekend plans. You can thank me later!
1 stick of unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
½ cup apple cider
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour
Pinch of cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 apple, peeled and grated
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup apple cider
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Pinch of fine salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Combine the butter, sugar, cider, and salt in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until the butter is melted and the sugar/salt are completely dissolved.
Remove the pot from the heat and quickly whisk in the flour and cinnamon. Stir until a ball forms. Return the pan to the heat for a minute or so, stirring constantly, to cook out the raw flour taste.
Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the mixture to a heat-safe bowl. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before beating in the eggs, one at a time, with a hand blender (alternatively, you could use a whisk or your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment).
Beat until the batter is smooth. Fold in the grated apple.
Combine all the ingredients for the glaze in a medium bowl, whisking well to combine and dissolve any lumps. Add more sugar or liquid, as needed, to achieve an easily pourable consistency. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until the temperature reaches 325°F on a candy/deep-fry thermometer. Meanwhile, fit a wire rack over a baking sheet; set aside.
When the oil is ready, add 2-3 small scoops (I use a small cookie scoop to drop the dough into the oil) of the dough and fry until golden brown, flipping halfway through, about 4 minutes total. Remove the fritters from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to the rack-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
While the fritters are still warm, gently toss in the glaze until evenly coated. Return to the wire rack to allow excess glaze to drip off. Dust warm fritters with powdered sugar and serve.
Adapted from here.