Apple beignets are also sold on the kermis from waffle-palace wagons. Many people prefer them to oliebollen: it does get you a step closer to your ‘five a day’, if you don’t count the batter and fat. Using an apple with firm flesh will prevent the beignet from becoming soggy or falling apart. And have you ever wondered why your icing sugar tends to disappear seconds after you’ve dusted your baked goods, while in the shops and at the fair the sugar remains in place like a light shower of snow? They use a special icing sugar that doesn’t melt. You can get it from specialist shops, but it isn’t a must; plain icing sugar does the job if dusted on seconds before serving.
- 6 medium-firm apples, a buttery texture, sweet with tart notes is what you need)
- 200 g bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 T caster sugar
- 5 g salt
- 200 ml full-cream milk, at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 T melted butter or oil
- 2 litres oil or lard, for deep-frying
- icing sugar, for dusting
1. Use a deep-fryer or a deep heavy-based saucepan.
2. Peel and core the apples and cut into 1 cm (3/8 inch) slices.
3. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the milk, the egg yolks and melted butter and whisk or mix until you get a smooth batter. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into the batter.
4. Heat the oil to 180°C in a deep-fryer or deep heavy-based saucepan. The oil is the correct temperature when a cube of bread is added and turns golden brown in 60 seconds. Dust the apple slices with a thin coating of flour, making sure no pockets of flour are stuck to the fruit.
5. Using tongs, dip each slice in the batter so the apple is covered, then carefully lower the apple slices into the hot fat.
Fry the beignets for 5 minutes or until golden brown, flipping them over halfway through the cooking time. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towel while you fry the remaining apple slices. Serve on a serving plate, dusted generously with icing sugar. Eat hot and with your hands; licking your fingers is essential.
This is an extract from Dark Rye and Honey Cake: Festival baking from the heart of the Low Countries by Regula Ysewijn (Murdoch Books). Photographs Regula Ysewijn.