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apple fritters
Frittelle di Mela (Apple Fritters, fried dough without yeast)
Originated from: Northern Italy
Occasion: After the apple harvest
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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4 apples
2 cups flour*
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk*

Juice of 1 lemon (to prevent browning of apple slices)
Zest of 1 lemon mixed with 1/4 cup sugar (for dusting)
Vegetable oil for deep frying

* Measurement is approximate


Beat eggs, milk and vanilla.

Combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.

With an electric beater mix flour mixture with egg mixture. The resulting mixture should be a bit thicker than a pancake batter but not by much. If the batter is too thin, add flour, if it's too thick, add milk.

Let the batter rest in the fridge for about ten minutes.

Meanwhile peel and core the apples.

Slice apples into 1/2 inch rings.

Drizzle lemon juice on them.

Heat oil.

Dip apple slices in batter and fry, one or two at a time, until golden.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.


Before serving (at room temperature), sprinkle sugar mixed with lemon zest.


This traditional recipe from northern Italy is not as easy as it looks. Some of the apple slices will break (even before they're cooked) and as for the batter, no matter how thick and smooth it is, it might not stick to the apple slices. You have to manually load the batter to the apple slices. To get the apple slices to look like a donut (with a hole in the center) is no easy feat. The best way to do it is to core the apple, so that it has a fairly large hole in the center. And then while the apple is frying you can pass the opposite end of a fork in the hole, but you can't do it too early (the batter will simply return to the hole) and you can't do it too late 'cause then it won't work, so you can only do it mid-way. If the hole does get clogged up, it doesn't matter all that much (The taste will be the same). The apple fritters take two to three to four minutes to cook -- if they're undercooked they're no good, and if they're overcooked they're no good either. If the dough is undercooked, it tastes awful, if the apple is overcooked, it tastes mushy and disgusting. However, done right, these Italian-style apple fritters are very tasty (Would even go so far as to say "delicious"). In the fall when apples are abundant and cheap, this is a wonderful recipe to try. In Italy, prior to World War II, only those foods that were in season, were made use of. Also, back then, nothing was wasted. So the oil that was used to fry fritters or whatever else was, of course, reused. This can still be done today. All you have to do is wait for the oil to cool and then use a strainer to get rid of the impurities. That done, the oil can be placed in a container and put in the freezer. Prior to World War II most Italians used olive oil to fry foods. Nowadays, they use all-purpose vegetable oil; some switched because they preferred the vegetable oil's "lighter" taste, others switched because the cost of olive oil skyrocketed. In any case, most professional cooks recommend peanut oil or sunflower oil for deep frying. Both peanut and sunflower oil have less of an "oily" aftertaste (Unfortunately, these cooking oils are more expensive). Obviously, there are dozens of variations on this traditional apple fritter recipe. Some include vanilla, others don't. Some include nutmeg, others don't. Some dust the apple fritters with confections' sugar (or icing sugar) while others call for regular white sugar. Some recipes recommend dusting the fritters with sugared cinnamon, others don't. Personally, I preferred the fritters to be sprinkled with lemon-flavored sugar, but then that could be just me. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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