Making donuts at home can be a major undertaking. There are so many steps involved: wake up early to make the dough, let it rise, roll it out, cut out circles, let them rise again, fry them (in lots of oil), and finally glaze them. I get tired just thinking about the whole process! Unless you have a large family, it’s a lot of work, especially when there are cheap donut shops everywhere. With that said, I’ve developed a shortcut for making donuts at home. Rather than make traditional donuts, I make yeast-free donut holes. There is no rise time with this dough and you don’t need to roll it out either. They are delicious and some of the easiest donuts you’ll ever make.
Here’s my recipe made into mini apple fritters. It is a baking powder-based dough, and the addition of ricotta gives these fritters a light and moist texture. All you need to do is scoop the dough right into the fryer, like hush puppies. I learned about ricotta fritters from Nancy Silverton (co-founder of Mozza and formerly owner of La Brea Bakery) when she visited my culinary school years ago. Unlike the cloyingly sweet and greasy apple fritters at your local donut shop, these are light, mildly sweet, and not oily. My son said they remind him of beignets.
The recipe is pretty easy to follow, but please make sure you prep the ricotta the night before. And as with all my recipes, please read the entire recipe before you start. Happy frying!
Apple Ricotta Fritters
Yield: about 2 dozen
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tart apple (pink lady, honey crisp or Granny Smith), medium-sized, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
21/2 tablespoons of sugar (divided)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Calvados* (optional)
3/8 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of sunflower oil
8 ounces of ricotta cheese (drained over a fine sieve or cheese cloth overnight)
1 cup of Sonora wheat flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of organic corn syrup*
1/2 cup of organic confectioners sugar*
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter until melted. Add the apple, 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, pinch of salt, and Calvados. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the apples to be soft and the sauce to be thick, syrupy in consistency. Transfer the apple mixture to a bowl to cool.
2. While the mixture is cooling, place the oil in a 1 quart heavy bottomed pan (copper or stainless steel ). Place a candy thermometer in the pan and bring the oil to 360°.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk well.
4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. At the eggs, vanilla extract, and corn syrup. Using a fork, whisk the flour into the wet ingredients until just combined. Don’t over mix.
5. Add the ricotta, breaking it up into pieces with your hands. Using a rubber spatula, fold it gently into the flour mixture. You will see chunks of ricotta pieces. Don’t over mix.
6. Next, fold in the cooked apples until just combined.
7. Using a 1 tablespoon-sized ice cream scoop, scoop 6 round balls into the hot oil. Do not get tempted to add more fritters or the oil temperature will drop and create an oily and soggy texture.
8. Fry them for about 1 minute and 30 seconds on one side and the turn them over and fry them for 1 more minute. You’re looking for a deep golden color.
9. Transfer fritters to a paper towel-lined colander and blot any excess oil.
10. Return the oil to 360° and fry 6 more fritters. Repeat this process until all the fritters are done.
11. In a small bowl whisk together the confectioners sugar and cinnamon.
12. Using a small sieve, dust the apple fritters with the powdered sugar mixture. Shake to coat evenly.
13. As with most fried food, they are best eaten when warm, but surprisingly these apple fritters still taste great hours after they’ve been fried. Enjoy them with a hot cup of coffee.
*Calvados is an apple brandy. You can find it in most large grocery stores.
*If at all possible, try to use organic corn-based products. Most of the corn syrup and cornstarch sold in the stores are GMO.