Digital Editions managing editor Erika Ehmsen couldn’t resist the siren song of the chapter called “Fried Stuff.”
Why this recipe? There’s something magically delicious about sugar-dusted dough that’s crisp on the outside and has a warm, tender inside, whether it’s a cake doughnut, a state fair funnel cake, or a New Orleans beignet. I own a deep fry thermometer that I'd never used, so I volunteered to take a stab at making fritters, a decadent breakfast treat that's way out of my usual weekend waffle routine.
What was it like to make it? The batter was quick and easy to pull together, but the frying part was intimidating. The recipe suggested frying in a countertop fryer (which I don’t own or need to own) or a Dutch oven—with no particular size noted. I realized as the oil was glugging into my 2.75-quart Le Creuset "French" oven that my pot was barely going to hold the 3 inches of oil that the recipe called for. So when I over-enthusiastically dunked an especially large dollop of dough in the hot oil, it spat back and bubbled over the side of the pot. Flames shot up (!), so I cut the gas and narrowly avoided a grease fire. Lesson learned: Before tackling frying, make sure you have a deep, heavy pot that can accommodate that much oil—a high-sided wok should work well.
How did it turn out? The fritters turned out larger than Zoe Nathan would have recommended (the recipe says it makes 18 to 20 fritters and I made ... just 8). But if you didn't know what size they should have been and ignored the spindly tentacles of dough sprouting off the traditional fritter shape, then they turned out just the way they should have: Crisp on the outside, and warm and tender on the inside. Like a fragrant lemon funnel cake. And bonus: My kitchen smelled like the state fair.
Will I make it again? Maybe. (Did you see that vat of oil? It was like a medieval-castle security system.) To attempt this recipe again, I'd need to become more comfortable working around hot oil and doing so while juggling frying and serving—these fritters should be eaten hot, so I couldn't have a batch on the stove and a batch being delivered as breakfast in bed without help from a friend. But would I eat it again? Absolutely.
LEMON RICOTTA FRITTERS
Makes 18 to 20 fritters
"Fritters wait for no man," writes Zoe Nathan. "When they are ready, they must be eaten right away. This is not the kind of thing you can set out in a bowl as part of a beautiful pastry display, for your guests to slowly enjoy. When you make these, everyone should be standing around looking over your shoulder, sipping mimosas, and waiting for the next batch to come out so they can quickly shove them into their months. It’s way more fun that way anyway."
Canola oil for frying2 eggs, separated1/2 cup (125 g) ricottaZest of 2 lemons1/3 cup (80 ml) whole milk1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour5 tsp. sugar3/4 tsp. kosher salt1/2 tsp. baking powder2 tbsp. unsalted butter, meltedPowdered sugar for sprinklingSpecial equipment:Candy thermometerDutch oven that can easily handle 3 inches of oil (with head space/room for liquid displacement) or countertop fryer
1. In a Dutch oven or countertop fryer, heat 3 in. (7.5 cm) canola oil to 375°F (190°C).2. Whisk together the egg yolks, ricotta, lemon zest, and milk in a small bowl.3. In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.5. Meanwhile, add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture, followed by the melted butter. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in the egg whites.6. Using a soup spoon, scoop up 2 to 2 1/2 tbsp. of batter and ease it into the hot oil using another spoon. Fry in batches until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.7. Allow to cool just slightly on a cooling rack, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot!
These do not keep well at all, so don't ask them to. Eat immediately.