Apple Fritters

from Fine Cooking

I grew up in a small town in South Carolina, settled early in the 18th century by Swiss and Germans. There's a wonderful legacy of cookie, torte, and fritter recipes, as well as incomparable sausage-making skills, in Orangeburg. When I went fishing, I would go down to the local bakery at 6:00 a.m. for freshly glazed doughnuts to take with me. I've never had better.

This light fritter batter came from Orangeburg's Choice Recipes, published by the town's P.T.A. in 1948. It's really delicious for fritters made with apples, pears, or plums.

3 large apples
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons sugar, plus sugar for dusting
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon melted unsalted butter
Peanut oil for frying

1. Core and pare the apples. Cut them into slices 1/3-inch thick and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, more or less, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Toss well and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Sift the flour and the salt together into a medium bowl. Keep the sifter nearby for the final presentation. Make a slight hollow in the center and add the egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the water. Mix with a wooden spoon, then add the rest of the water and the butter, beating hard and pressing the batter against the bowl to break up lumps.
3. Pour 3 inches of oil into a stockpot or Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Beat the egg whites stiff, then fold them into the batter. When the oil has reached 365° , dip each apple slice into the batter, allowing excess to drain off before dropping them into the oil. Do not crowd the pot and keep the temperature between 350° and 365° . Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with sifted sugar.

Serves 4