I have very romantic visions of pioneer life, made up of a jumble of ridiculous episodes of Little House on the Prairie and more realistic, often harsh stories from Laura Ingalls Wilder's original books. One of the things I love most about the books is the focus on food, whether it's the work that goes into preserving food for winter, the various techniques for different parts of the animal, or little Almanzo's constant obsession with eating in Farmer Boy. Reading about the simple homemade desserts is what really seems to get me, and I've always dreamed about apple fritters, cooking in a cast iron skillet on a wood burning cast iron stove. I'm not even sure she writes about apple fritters, but I definitely know that Caroline made them on the show for that party where Laura and Mary invited the girls from town and Nellie made fun of them for being country girls. Everybody loved Ma's apple fritters.
I don't have an apple corer, but I was determined to keep the apple slices as rings, so that was the only really hard part of this recipe. Now that I know how delicious these are, I obviously have to go buy an apple corer. The batter was incredibly simple, just flour, sugar, cinnamon, milk, and eggs.
Just the act of beating the egg whites stiff causes the batter to puff up when fried, the coating becoming light and airy and subtly delicious.
The final result was like a delicious light donut or a beignet with a sweet apple surprise in the middle. Even the act of frying was simpler than I anticipated, and I only burned myself once!
A dusting of powdered sugar was an essential step, it gave just the right touch of sweetness to the otherwise subtle dessert. It made me feel like I was on the prairie, except for the fact that that stupid Knight Rider movie was on and it was really terrible. Recipe after the jump:
4 firm apples, anything used to cook would work, as long as it is not too tart
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup milk
vegetable oil for frying
confectioner's sugar for dusting
Grate the lemon rind and set aside for later use. Peel and core the apple, slice into 1/4 inch rings, and place in a shallow dish. Mix the lemon juice and brown sugar and pour over the apples. Set aside to marinate for 1 hour.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the milk and lemon rind and add to the dry ingredients, mixing to combine well. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold the whites into the batter. Do not overmix, it is okay if there are white streaks in the batter. Heat about 1/2 inch to 1 inch of oil in a cast iron skillet until 350 degrees or a piece of bread sizzles and browns. Remove the apple slices from the lemon juice and coat with the batter (this may take some coaxing as the batter will not easily stick). Gently drop the slices into the hot oil with tongs, do not overcrowd the pan, this should be done in batches. Fry on the first side until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then carefully flip (I used two chopsticks) and fry on the other side another minute. Drain on papertowels. Top with a dusting of confectioner's sugar. These are best eaten right away, but you can reheat and recrisp leftovers in a toaster oven.