You should probably go ahead and plan that three-mile run, because there is no denying the light pillow-soft texture of a deep-fried donut — especially one that's stuffed with fresh fall apples.
Yes, they are deep fried. I decided to go against the current food blogging trend of baking donuts. I understand how, even aside from the calories, the thought of deep-frying is sort of scary for some of you. I get it — boiling oil equals hot, painful burns. Yep, been there (don't be like me and multi-task deep-frying with social media!).
Tips for a Better, Easier Fritter
Since this isn't the shortest recipe ever and it's a bit more advanced, I'm sharing some tips to make sure things move along smoothly for you.
I'll start with the apples: core, peel, and chop your apples, then submerge them in ice-cold water with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Push the apples down and place a piece of parchment paper on top so the apples don't bob above the surface of the water. You can do this the night before so the apples are ready to go when you're ready to fry.
And here's a shortcut for proofing the dough: Place an oven thermometer inside your oven and heat the oven to 100°F, then turn it off. Wait until the oven thermometer inside reads 90°F then place your bowl of dough inside. I use this method a lot in the winter when warm spots in the house can be hard to find, plus it speeds up the proofing in recipes like this. If you use this method, make sure you have an oven thermometer and the temperature in the oven does not exceed 90°F.
Now for the deep-frying. You want to do your best and keep the oil at a steady 360°F. If it's too low, your fritters will absorb too much oil and become sodden; too high and the outsides will end up burnt, or worse — appear to be finished with a nice golden browning while the inside is still doughy.
A few deep-frying rules!
- Use the right tools: (1) a deep frying thermometer is a must for eliminating guess-work, (2) use an Asian-style spider spatula — not tongs — to remove the finished fritters. If you don't have a spider, a very wide slotted spoon will also work so the fritter doesn't slip off and fall back in the oil with enough splash to splatter your tender skin.
- Don't multi-task. See note above.
- Minimize any splatter burns by being careful and not deep-frying shirtless (guys), or in a tank top. I'm serious.
- Start out only frying one or two fritters to get it down and establish a workflow pattern. Additionally, adjust any timing as needed to make sure your fritters are cooked through.
Sound good? Not too scared? You shouldn't be — apple fritters await. Now lets get started.
Glazed Apple 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
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
For the dough:
1 packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
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. Push the apples down and place a piece of parchment paper on top so the apples don't bob above the surface of the water. 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.
Make the apple filling while the dough rises: Heat the butter for the filling in a skillet over medium-high heat until butter turns brown and smells nutty. Drain the apples and add them to the pan with the butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and cook until tender. Add in vinegar and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Set aside to cool.
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. Starting from the end closest to your body, scatter 3/4 of the apples over the surface of the dough, then roll it up in a long tube.
Now rotate the tube of dough so it's perpendicular to your body. Flatten the tube slightly, then scatter the remaining apples over the surface. Roll up the tube like a snail's shell — the finished dough will look like a large ball.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the apple-filled dough ball to a 1/2-thick rectangle. Some apples may pop out — don't worry if they do, just set them aside and pop them back in where you can. Use a bench scraper to cut the dough into 2 1/2-inch squares to make 12 fritters. Use your hand to and pull the four corners of each square towards the center. Again, don't worry about any apples falling out or if they are exposed. Pinch dough together if necessary to create a rough circle.
Place the 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 and almost double in size
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.