I have such fond memories of New Year’s Eve parties when I was a kid growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Crowded rooms filled with my parents’ friends engaged in conversation (a lot of it in Dutch), cigarette smoke filling the air and the clinking of crystal glasses. And, in the kitchen, buckets loaded with Appelflappen (apple fritters) and Oliebollen (fried dough balls) ready to be cooked. The combined smell of spices and cooking oil was always pungent in the air and we kids couldn’t wait for the feasting to begin!
Many years have passed since then and somewhere along the way the Dutch traditions have fallen by the wayside. So, I’ve made it my mission over the last couple of years to give these Dutch New Year’s staples a go. Last year I made the oliebollen and this year it was time to try out the appelflappen (or ‘apple flappies’ as we kids used to call them, LOL). And, I have to say, they didn’t disappoint. Delicious slices of apple rested in cinnamon sugar, encased in a crisp tempura style batter and doused in a snowy layer of icing sugar. Just as good as I remember…
I went to the best source of Dutch recipes – The Dutch Table – for this recipe. I kept to it for the most part, though I did substitute spelt flour for the standard wheat flour (if you want to use spelt flour, use a little less milk as spelt absorbs more liquid than standard flour). The type of apple you use is fairly important – they need to be a little on the tart side given they’re being paired with sugar. I chose good old Granny Smith apples, though they’re not recommended in the original recipe due to them being too tart and juicy. Personally, I love that cheek-puckering tartness, and they cooked perfectly well, but I suggest you go with whichever type of apple you prefer. Enjoy… or should I say, smakelijk eten!
Appelflappen (Dutch Apple Fritters)
For the apple fritters:
- 4 apples (I used 'granny smiths')
- 1 lemon, halved
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the batter:
- 1/2 cup standard flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), to sprinkle
- Peel the whole apples. Grab a small knife and, working with one apple at a time, slice off each end to create straight edges. Now, working from one end, slice the apple horizontally in quarter inch rounds. Take each slice and cut out the core to create a 'hole'. Take a lemon half and rub it over each slice – this ensures it won't brown – and put the apple slices into a bowl. Repeat with the remaining apples.
- Mix together the sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over the apples and toss together. Leave for about 15-20 minutes, during which time you can make the batter.
For the batter:
- In a bowl, add the flour, milk, egg, baking powder and salt and whisk until smooth. The batter is meant to be quite runny (for a tempura style batter), however you can adjust the texture by adding more flour (to make it thicker) or more milk (to make it thinner).
- Heat up the oil in your deep fryer. Once at full heat, take some metal tongs, pick up an apple slice, dunk it into the batter ensuring it is fully covered, and drop carefully into the oil (continue to add as many apple slices as your deep fryer has room for without crowding). When the fritter is golden brown, flip it over to cook the other side. When done, lift the fritter out of the oil shaking off the excess oil, then place on a large plate covered in absorbent kitchen paper (this step is important – if you don't drain the excess oil the fritters will be limp). Repeat with remaining fritters.
- Transfer the fritters to a serving plate, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.