Dinner at 1800

Dinner at 1800: Apple Fritters

I’m trying something new! Well, actually two new things. Wow, God has really been taking me out of my comfort zone lately. But at the same time, I am pretty excited! I feel like God recently removed another level of the fear that always tries to control my life, and it has opened me up for new things. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The second new thing…is a podcast! As those of you who follow me on social media already know, but I’m actually going to save talking about that until later this month.

Today’s new thing is….baking related! Shocking, I know. Baking? Me? Okay, okay, enough with the so-what look. But, I have decided to to put some of my 19th century cookbooks to use and make some of the recipes. After much brainstorming, I’ve taken my sister Tianna’s idea, and am calling it Dinner at 1800. And if you want to see the one-minute version of my attempt, watch my reel on Instagram. But if you want the more in-depth version of how this recipe worked, read on! I mean, technically, you can, and should do both, because the reel, thanks to my canva skills (for the opening) and my sister Tianna’s video editing skills (for everything else), is awesome.

And the first recipe I opted to try is:

Apple Fritters

The Virginia Housewife, published 1824

The first thing one notices about this recipe – and a lot of them, really – is the lack of measurements. We are told, first and foremost to pare and slice some apples. How many is some? How big should they be? What are the ratios, people? But, lacking that information, I went with five.

Next are instructions to add a glass of brandy and some white wine. *insert blank face* Well. Okay. I guess that means I can be as tipsy or as not tipsy as I want to be? All in all, I went conservative on these things because…well…I couldn’t have you all judging me, could I?

Then came a quarter of a pound of pounded sugar. This constituted a google search for me. Because what exactly is pounded sugar? I mean, is it powdered? Or are they just referring to having to pound it down from that loaf they used to have to use? Because, for those of you who don’t know, sugar used to come in cones. Hardened cones, which meant any time a cook wanted to use the sugar, it had to be pounded down to useable pieces.

Here’s an example of what a sugar loaf might look like, along with nippers they would use to cut it into the smaller pieces that they would then pound into actual granules.

Petr Adam Dohnálek, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Hamster62, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Lives and Legacies has an excellent article about sugar cones if anyone wants to know more: All About Sugar Cones

After much research and realizing that Mary Randolph does occasionally reference powdered sugar specifically, I decided to interpret pounded as simply granulated. So, measuring and mixing that, along with an also undefined amount of cinnamon and lemon rind, I was instructed to let the apples stand “some time”. Very helpful. I chose to interpret that as half an hour and used the time to work on reel related stuff.

Then it was on to the batter! I beat two eggs “very light” and, yes, took a modicum of pride in the fact that one of my daily kitchen tools is a vintage hand mixer, actually purchased from an antique store, and likely used in situations like this one. Adding in flour and butter (and, yes, for once the recipe provided measurements!), I stared blankly at the words “add as much cold water as will make a thin batter.” Well. That’s clearly up for interpretation. I obtained Tianna and Daniel’s input on how thin the batter was – or at least pretended to because, let’s be honest, I was going to go with my gut anyway – and then “dripped the apples on a sieve” – or, you know, strained them in a very modern strainer, and mixed them with the batter.

I then proceeded to stare at the instructions to fry one slice and a spoonful of batter a time “quickly of a light brown”. One apple slice at at time? Who has that kind of time? And fry quickly and then drain? Did that mean deep fry, or just regular fry? Was I supposed to use some type of oil? Clearly this woman didn’t actually want anyone cooking as well as she was reported to.

Since, unlike some of the other recipes, nothing was said about boiling oil, I went with a regular skillet, and since it is also apparently impossible for me to follow a recipe without doing at least one thing completely off book, totally ignored her instructions to do one slice of apple at a time, and scooped in several slices. Then, I sprinkled it with sugar, also ignored the comment about glazing since she doesn’t mention what type of glaze to use, and, while it might not look extremely appetizing…it was actually really good!

We sat Daniel down, provided him with a top hat for good measure, and made him try it and he also acknowledged it was good. Though…he didn’t finish both his pieces, so he might have just been saying that for the video…

And that, my friends, is the 1824 version of apple fitters!

2 thoughts on “Dinner at 1800: Apple Fritters

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