Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Banana Fritters - Homely Yeastly Pleasures
Years before there were ice rinks, city kids - at least those living in Chicago - learned to skate outdoors. When polar winds blew in, the fire department would flood vacant lots and create ponds for us to skate on. There were no lessons; we learned to do by watching and long determined practice. Prized even more than mastering a figure eight was the invitation to join the "whip." Once balance and forward motion were achieved Crack the Whip - a.k.a. Crack the Skull or Chip the Teeth - was the game of choice. Moms weren't fond of the game; that necessitated the posting of lookouts who were skilled in determining ETA. By the time adults reached the ice we looked like cherubs auditioning for the choir of angels. My knees are a testament to the effects of gravel playgrounds and bumpy "pond" ice. Claire, my friend, and I would stay on the ice until our lips were chapped clear up to our noses (effort - in all things - was and still is shown by curling the tongue around the upper lip). When the cold finally numbed our spirits we'd head to Claire's for hot chocolate and - if we were lucky - fritters. I suspect my fondness for crullers and fritters is intertwined with happy memories of that time. Strangely enough, my children hated pond skating. I planned an adventure to introduce them to "real" ice but they weren't impressed and we had to continue with those brutal early morning sessions at the ice rink - my own warped version of "what I did for love." Today's recipe for banana fritters is simple, but there are some tricks needed to produce a tasty and non-gummy treat. The bananas must be "nasty" - really ripe, blackened fruit. All ingredients should be at room temperature. The temperature of the oil must remain a constant 350 degrees F. and you must resist the temptation to make large fritters (they will burn before they're cooked through). Because there is no sugar in the batter the fritters need some sweetening. I roll the fritters in an orange sugar but cinnamon or vanilla sugar also serve the purpose. This wonderfully old-fashioned treat is best served warm with French press coffee or hot chocolate. Happy dunking!
1 pound very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons dark rum or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup flavored granulated sugar
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
1) Place bananas, eggs, milk, rum, zest cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until blended. Stir in yeast and flour. The batter should resemble egg whites beaten to soft peaks. Let sit, covered, for 30 minutes.
2) Place oil in a large, heavy saute pan or electric skillet (my choice for this recipe). Heat until oil is 350 degrees F. Using a soup spoon, drop ovals of batter into hot oil and cook, three or four at a time, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. The oil must be deep enough to allow the fritters to float or they will brown too quickly and be gummy in the center. Drain. Roll in flavored granulated sugar. Repeat until batter is gone. Arrange on a serving plate. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners' sugar and serve warm. Yield: 24 fritters.
Orange Sugar: Combine 3 tablespoons orange zest with 1 cup sugar. Rub peel into sugar. Spread on a baking sheet and allow to dry for 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container. Store in refrigerator.
This recipe is being sent to Yeast Spotting, an event sponsored by Susan at Wild Yeast