Sourdough Apple Fritters

IMG_2065It’s been a while, but I’m back. Sort of. At least to share a recipe for apple fritters (which you can scroll down to see if you don’t care about dough hydration and doughnut opinions).

If we’ve ever had a conversation that lasted more than five minutes, then you probably know two of the most important things about me: I love apple fritters, and, I’m always disappointed in yeasted doughnuts.

Sounds like a recipe for disappointment, right? Well, it is.

For me, most gourmet yeasted doughnuts are on the bland, overly-yeasted, wonder-bready side. All I want is moist, chewy, classic doughnuts. Or at least something with flavour. The most perfect doughnuts I’ve had aren’t anything fancy, they’re tried-and-true recipes from old school doughnut shops like Coffee Way in Kingston, Grandad’s in Hamilton, or Stan’s Donuts in Chicago (which I was lucky enough to drive through last year).

Even at those joints, though, I tend to opt for a sour cream glazed over anything yeasted.

I make an exception when it comes to apple fritters. Especially if they’re Mum’s (in Mindemoya) or homemade by my lovely neighbours for my birthday. I just find fritters a little more forgiving because of the moisture from the apples and all that cinnamon flavour. My main complain with fritters (except those by my neighbours, theirs were perfect) is usually more along “not enough apples” lines.

After years of complaining and judging others, I figured I’d take things into my own hands, literally, and see if I could make apple fritters that satisfied the most severe critic I know: Myself.

Some characteristics I was looking for included:

  • Too many apples (rustically chopped, peels on)
  • Lots of cinnamon
  • Well-structured and big-holed, yet tender and moist interior
  • Crisp sugary coating
  • 100% vegan
  • Clean, nongreasy flavour (clean has nothing to do with dieting in this context)

By using sourdough as my base, and a fairly high-hydration dough (it sits around 75%, kind of) with a little shortening, sugar, and applesauce as tenderizers, I came up with something that worked. I also fried them in more shortening for a nice, clean flavour and melt-in-your mouth texture you just can’t get with vegetable or canola oil.

Zoom in on the photos of the decapitated doughnuts for a nice look at their innards: they were quite tender and light while maintaining an impressive amount of structure.

Anyway, onto the actual recipe. It’s all by weight, since that’s the most consistent way to make anything, and no, I don’t recommend trying to make it by volume. It’s easier and more forgiving than it sounds though, so I encourage you to give it a try!

The best part about eggless recipes? You can scale it to whatever quantity you want, easy peasy! This makes a lot …

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Sourdough Apple Fritters (Vegan!)

Makes 16-20 (depending on size)

150 g, active 100% hydration sourdough starter

525 g bread flour*
25 g cornstarch
¼ t cinnamon
¾ t salt
50 g sugar

50 g shortening
375 g hot tap water
75 g apple sauce

8 large apples, diced
1 T cinnamon
2 T white or brown sugar

4 c icing sugar
½ c water
¼ c maple syrup (optional)
pinch salt

2 packs (1 kg) shortening

In a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients and knead with a dough hook for 10-15 minutes until the dough is extremely smooth and pulls cleanly away from the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Cover the dough and let it develop at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours, then put in the fridge for 18-36 hours until you’re ready to make the doughnuts. (Alternatively, you can just let it stay out for a full 12-18 hours and it will be fine, it just won’t have quite as much nuance).

4 hours before you’re ready to fry ’em up, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit out for 1 hour while you cook up the apples.

Add the dices apples, half of the cinnamon, and half of the sugar to a pot and heat on medium until they’ve got just a bit of crunch left. Cool to for 15 minutes minimum.

When the apples have cooled a bit, gentle transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface and coax into a large rectangle (you don’t want to burst all those bubbles that have been growing!)

Spread two thirds of the apples over one half of the rectangle and sprinkle with half of the remaining cinnamon and sugar. Fold the dough over the apples. Sprinkle the remaining apples, cinnamon, and sugar on half again, and fold over once more.

Gentle roll the monstrosity out until it’s only about an inch high, definitely no more than 2 inches. Cut into any shape you want, aiming for no more than 4 inches across at any point to ensure they cook evenly.

Let the cut fritters rise for an hour or two, or until they’ve almost doubled.

When they seem close, heat the shortening into a wide, fairly tall, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat until it’s 365°F.

While the oil heats, combine the icing sugar, water, maple syrup (if using), and salt, and set aside.

Fry 4 fritters at a time for about 6 minutes*, flipping halfway through.

Remove them to paper bags or paper towel to drain for a minute, then dip them in the sugar mixture while still hot and place on a cooling rack to drip dry.

Eat with hot coffee or cold apple cider.

*If you don’t have bread flour, you can use 500 grams all purpose plus 25 grams vital wheat gluten. If you don’t have vital wheat gluten lying around, you can also just use all purpose, although they might not be quite as structured.

**Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature while they fry if you can: you’re looking for 195°F minimum.  Either wya, check the insides of one from your first batch after letting them sit for a few minutes to see if you should add more or less time based on their size. Trust your gut.

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