Apple Fritters with Vanilla Sugar
Serves 6 to 8
For these sweet, crunchy fritters, apple rings are lightly coated with a creamy batter, then fried until crisp and golden outside and tender within. My recipe was inspired by one found in Donatella Limentani Pavoncello’s cookbook Dal 1880 ad Oggi (see page 152 of Portico). She served the fritters as part of her family’s Hanukkah menu, but they also make great use of an autumnal apple-picking haul.
Donatella sprinkled her fritters with homemade vanilla sugar, as do I. The recipe for the sugar makes a good deal more than you need for the fritters, but it keeps for a long time and is useful to have around for other baking projects. If you would rather skip that step, the fritters are equally tasty sprinkled with regular granulated sugar or cinnamon-sugar.
For the vanilla sugar:
2 vanilla beans
1½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
For the Fritters
4 large baking apples, peeled
1½ cups (210 g) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups (355 ml) milk or non-dairy milk
Vegetable oil (such as sunflower or grapeseed) for frying
Prepare the vanilla sugar:
Split the vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds; set the pods aside. Put the sugar and vanilla seeds in a food processor and pulse until fully combined. Transfer the sugar to a glass jar, add the reserved pods, cover tightly, and set aside. (The sugar can be used right away, but the flavor will develop over time. It can be stored, tightly covered, for up to 1 year.)
Prepare the fritters:
Using an apple corer (or a melon baller or sturdy metal teaspoon), carefully remove the apple cores and discard. Slice the apples into ½‑inch- (1.25 cm) thick rings and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the milk and whisk until smooth.
Heat ½ inch (1.25 cm) of oil in a large frying pan over medium until shimmering. Line a large plate with paper towels and set nearby.
When the oil is hot, working in batches of 4 to 5, dip the apple rings into the batter, let the excess drip off, and carefully slip them into the oil. Fry, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the paper towel – lined plate to drain.
Sprinkle the fritters generously with vanilla sugar while still hot and serve immediately.
Excerpted from Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen. Copyright © 2023 by Leah Koenig. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Leah Koenig is the author of six cookbooks, including The Jewish Cookbook and Modern Jewish Cooking. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Food & Wine, Epicurious, Food52, and more. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.