Back­ground pho­to by Ellen Berg on Unsplash

Author pho­to by Kristin Teig

Apple Frit­ters with Vanil­la Sugar

Mele Fritte

Serves 6 to 8

For these sweet, crunchy frit­ters, apple rings are light­ly coat­ed with a creamy bat­ter, then fried until crisp and gold­en out­side and ten­der with­in. My recipe was inspired by one found in Donatel­la Limen­tani Pavoncello’s cook­book Dal 1880 ad Oggi (see page 152 of Por­ti­co). She served the frit­ters as part of her family’s Hanukkah menu, but they also make great use of an autum­nal apple-pick­ing haul.

Donatel­la sprin­kled her frit­ters with home­made vanil­la sug­ar, as do I. The recipe for the sug­ar makes a good deal more than you need for the frit­ters, but it keeps for a long time and is use­ful to have around for oth­er bak­ing projects. If you would rather skip that step, the frit­ters are equal­ly tasty sprin­kled with reg­u­lar gran­u­lat­ed sug­ar or cinnamon-sugar.

For the vanil­la sugar:

2 vanil­la beans

1½ cups (300 g) gran­u­lat­ed sugar

For the Fritters

4 large bak­ing apples, peeled

1½ cups (210 g) all-pur­pose flour

3 table­spoons gran­u­lat­ed sugar

½ tea­spoon kosher salt

½ tea­spoon bak­ing soda

1½ cups (355 ml) milk or non-dairy milk

Veg­etable oil (such as sun­flower or grape­seed) for frying

Pre­pare the vanil­la sugar:

Split the vanil­la beans and scrape out the seeds; set the pods aside. Put the sug­ar and vanil­la seeds in a food proces­sor and pulse until ful­ly com­bined. Trans­fer the sug­ar to a glass jar, add the reserved pods, cov­er tight­ly, and set aside. (The sug­ar can be used right away, but the fla­vor will devel­op over time. It can be stored, tight­ly cov­ered, for up to 1 year.)

Pre­pare the fritters:

Using an apple cor­er (or a mel­on baller or stur­dy met­al tea­spoon), care­ful­ly remove the apple cores and dis­card. Slice the apples into ½‑inch- (1.25 cm) thick rings and set aside.

Whisk togeth­er the flour, sug­ar, salt, and bak­ing soda in a large bowl. Add the milk and whisk until smooth.

Heat ½ inch (1.25 cm) of oil in a large fry­ing pan over medi­um until shim­mer­ing. Line a large plate with paper tow­els and set nearby.

When the oil is hot, work­ing in batch­es of 4 to 5, dip the apple rings into the bat­ter, let the excess drip off, and care­ful­ly slip them into the oil. Fry, turn­ing once, until gold­en brown on both sides, 2 to 3 min­utes per side. Trans­fer to the paper tow­el – lined plate to drain.

Sprin­kle the frit­ters gen­er­ous­ly with vanil­la sug­ar while still hot and serve immediately.

Pho­to by Kristin Teig

Excerpt­ed from Por­ti­co: Cook­ing and Feast­ing in Rome’s Jew­ish Kitchen. Copy­right © 2023 by Leah Koenig. Used with per­mis­sion of the pub­lish­er, W.W. Nor­ton & Com­pa­ny, Inc. All rights reserved.

Leah Koenig is the author of six cook­books, includ­ing The Jew­ish Cook­book and Mod­ern Jew­ish Cook­ing. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Food & WineEpi­cu­ri­ousFood52, and more. She lives in Brook­lyn, New York, with her family.