If there’s one thing I look forward to every Chanukah season, it’s doughnuts. While some people likely venture into deep-fry territory more often than once a year, I can’t justify such a… less than healthy indulgence more than that. But evey December I dream up new and more delicious sufganiya-like creations to celebrate the holiday. It’s all about the oil, baby.
I know that some people are afraid of yeast, and while I do love yeast-raised doughnuts, there are many other ways to go for Chanukah. Like these super-simple apple fritters – sweet, fluffy, bite-sized and studded with flecks of apple.
Now for some deep-frying tips: As terrifying as it sounds, I actually recommend frying in shortening, for one simple reason – since it is solid at room temperature, your doughnuts will be less oily in touch and texture when they cool down. You certainly don’t have to use shortening, and since it isn’t widely available in Israel I used canola oil.
I like using a thermometer when I deep fry so I can always know the temperature of the oil for accurate baking. If you really don’t want to invest, you’ll have to make test fritters to see how quickly they cook. Keep in mind that the oil temperature will rise and dip throughout the cooking process.
You also need some all metal tools – preferably tongs and a small sieve to remove the finished sufganiyot. And as always: safety first. Lower things gently into the oil, never drop them in to allow hot splashes, and always have the pot handle turned in toward the stove so you can’t accidentally knock it.
OK, safety lesson out of the way – get frying!
Recipe: Makes about 36 fritters
Canola oil or vegetable shortening
¾ cup milk or soy milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
powdered sugar, for dusting
In a deep pot, heat about 2 inches of oil and shortening until 350 F.
Beat together the eggs, milk and vanilla, then mix in the melted butter. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir until just mix.
Peel the apples and dice into small squares, no bigger than 1/2″ each. Stir into the batter.
Drop a small piece of the batter into the oil. If it starts to bubble around it, and the batter rises to the top and begins to brown, the oil is ready. Drop the dough by tablespoons (I found a cookie scoop to be very helpful) into the oil, about 6 at a time. When one side becomes golden brown, flip them over and let the other side brown. They should take 2-3 minutes total. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. When cool, sprinkle generously with sifted powdered sugar.
Ideally serve immediately, but max within 6 hours.