I HAVE FRITTERED away much time and countless opportunities but, until recently, I had not frittered any apples. I had heard of apple fritters. As a child, I, like thousands of other American kids, had been exposed to the Walt Disney version of apple history. It told the tale of a character who put a pot on his head and wandered across America planting apple seeds.
You know the fella I am referring to. I am reluctant to mention his name, for professional reasons. Every fall, food writers churn out stories about apples.
The trick is to write yet another apple piece without mentioning the name of the guy with the pot on his head. It is a point of professional pride, the mark of a skilled writer.
A comparable feat would be writing a lengthy story about the state of Kansas without once mentioning Dorothy. In my experience, few scribes pass the Dorothy test.
Anyway, in the Disney version, this guy with a pot on his head -- and we all know who I mean -- breaks into song, reciting the myriad ways apples can be prepared. The song goes something like, "There are apple pies and apple fritters, and there is always good ole apple sass."
I once knew many of the lyrics to that song and belted them out, or so I am told, at a gathering of friends of applejack. Applejack is a fermented liquid that tastes like cider but later makes your head feel as if it is being pounded by a car jack.
Of the three dishes mentioned in that verse, I had tasted apple pie and applesauce or sass, but not apple fritters. The other day, I vowed to rectify the situation.
As I looked at recipes, I found there are two ways to fritter. One is to cut the apples in slices, then dip them in a batter and fry the slices in hot oil. The other is to pulverize the apples in a food processor, mix them with batter, and then spoon the mashed apple batter into hot oil.
I chose mashing over slicing. Dropping apples in a food processor seemed easier than cutting them. Also, the device had not been invented when you-know-who ran around the country planting apple trees. If it had, he might have gone down in history as Johnny Applepuree.
Apple Fritters Yields about 36 3-inch fritters
1 1/2 cups unbleached all- purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium to large firm apples
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
oil for frying
maple syrup, optional
Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar, and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Add the milk and vanilla, and blend. Peel and core the apples, chop finely in food processor, and toss with lemon juice. Gradually, add the dry ingredients to the milk mixture, then add the apples. Blend.
Put enough oil in skillet to reach about 1/2 -inch deep. Heat to 365 degrees. Drop batter, in heaping teaspoons, into the skillet, patting each fritter down a bit, until they reach about 3 inches in diameter. Fry until golden on one side, then turn and brown on second side, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then transfer to a platter and keep warm in a 250-degree oven while you fry the rest. Serve, topping with maple syrup if desired.
-- From "Heartland" by Marcia Adams (Clarkson Potter, 1991)