An apple recipe, finally. I was resisting it, not really wanting it to be autumn. But autumn is here, and I’m welcoming it now with open arms. It’s not that I dislike autumn, not at all. It’s the anticipation of winter that I dread, and the longing for summer. But I’ve made peace with it, and celebrate with these buñuelos de manzana, apple ring fritters.
Of all the Fort Wayne festivals, the Johnny Appleseed Festival, that takes place in September is, by far, my favorite.
Johnny Appleseed is the popular name of John Chapman, a frontier nurseryman who established apple orchards throughout the American Midwest, and who became a folk hero. In popular culture, Johnny Appleseed is represented wearing ragged clothes, no shoes, and a tin pot as a hat, and happily spreading apple seeds randomly throughout the Midwest. In reality, John Chapman had a more organized and purposeful way of working: he planted apple nurseries and returned, after several years, to sell off the orchards and the surrounding land for a profit. The apple trees he planted didn’t yield edible apples, rather, the tart apples were used to make cider, a staple in the diet back in that time, when finding drinkable water was more difficult.
Many cities throughout the Midwest celebrate Johnny Appleseed. In the case of Fort Wayne, the festival is celebrated at his actual burial place. You see, Johnny Appleseed was born in Massachusetts, in 1774, and he died in Fort Wayne, in 1845. The exact place of his burial place is disputed, but documents establish it to be in Archer Park. The Johnny Appleseed Commission Council of the City of Fort Wayne, as part of the celebration of Indiana’s 100th birthday in 1916, placed an iron fence around his grave in Archer Park, to mark it. At that time, people that had attended John Chapman’s funeral gave accurate evidence of his burial site, so we can assert of its legitimacy. (On a side note, you might have noticed that Fort Wayne celebrates its 200th birthday this year!)
Since 1975, Fort Wayne celebrates Johnny Appleseed with a festival, the Johnny Appleseed Festival. Musicians, demonstrators, and vendors, dressed in early 19th century attire, offer food and goods that would have been available then. Crafters, trappers and traders, antiques and primitives, a military encampment, demonstrations, and even a children’s area with the recreational activities that would have been enjoyed in the 1800s, share the space, while the music of pipers and folk singers, the storytellers and tap dancing, and the booms of canons at the military encampment, provide the background sound. You can even find Abraham Lincoln himself!
In typical Indiana weather, the first day of the festival this year started out rainy, then turned sunny, and hot, and humid (good thing I brought shoes, because I got very uncomfortable in my boots!) The festival makes you feel as if you had stepped back in time, and as a lover of history, I can spend the day there with total disregard of the time. But while I gravitate towards the antiques, traders and demonstrators, my men gravitate towards the apple goods, root beer and lemonade, and otherwise food and sweets stands. What’s new!
In celebration of Johnny Appleseed, and the festival, and Autumn, I made an apple dessert, typical of another festival that is close to my heart, the Valencia’s Fallas festival (click here): buñuelos de manzana, and buñuelos de calabaza, apple and pumpkin fritters. I decided to cut the apples in slices, rather than finely dice them like we’d do in Valencia, and the result is just as delicious. These are better eaten just made, when the outside is still crunchy, the apple soft, and the sugar and cinnamon coating hasn’t infused into the fritter. I warn you, you won’t be able to stop at one.
APPLE RING FRITTERS
Buñuelos de Manzana
4 medium apples
1 cup whole milk
3 Tbs sugar
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Light olive oil for frying
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Sift this mixture over the bowl with the egg mixture. Mix well with a whisk and pour in a shallow bowl.
Place a wide skillet with about 1 inch of oil on the stove and heat at medium heat.
Core and peel the apples. Slice them into 1/4-inch rings. Working in batches, dip the apple slices into the batter, making sure they’re covered on both sides. Allow excess batter to drip off and fry in the hot oil for about 2-3 minutes, until they reach a golden-brown color. Flip and repeat on the other side.
Gently remove the apple slices from the oil and place them on a cookie sheet or plate covered with paper towels, to absorb the excess oil.
In a shallow bowl, mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Using your fingers, coat each fritter on both sides. Serve immediately, accompanied by hot chocolate.