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!

Banana Fritters

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


Anonymous said...

We lived in Streamwood Illinois from 70-72. At the end of our block was a park, the north end of which was marshy and would freeze over.

I spent one whole winter as "Peggy Fleming." I could do that stop fast, sideways skid, spraying ice thingie. I was hot stuff, man. And my mom always plied us with hot chocolate and Chips Ahoy.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, is as fun as skating "in the wild."

Good memories.


Anonymous said...

The fritters look wonderful, but the memories you refreshed of pond skating took me back to childhood and the Pine Pond, quite a walk from our house, where we skated until we froze. This was Iowa, after all. Thank you for the remembrance.

Martha said...

What a great story AND what a great recipe. Haven't made fritters in "forever" and never banana. Thanks for sharing both the story and the recipe.

Cathy said...

The things we did when we were kids! It's amazing we came through it intact. Life was different back then.

Wish I had one of your warm, crispy fritters to dunk in my coffee right now.

Anonymous said...

"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."
In tiny western Kansas towns, too! After a heavy snow, they also blocked off the only hill in town for sledding. You brought up some of the best memories of my childhood this morning! :-)

Allie said...

I skated on real ice in CO and scared me to death because I kept hearing the cracking and thought I would fall in. My husband had a good laugh though. The fritters looks so yummy and wonderful!

Mila said...

Mary! I grew up in Russia as a kid where I stayed outside curled up until my lips were blue too! Now I live in Chicago and the weather has not gotten much better, but reading your post makes me remember the good times of running around in the snow as a kid, careless and free.

Beautiful post!

Maria said...

We will have to try these with our deep fryer:) I know Josh will be up for it!

Pam said...

Great memories Mary. I lost a few teeth on the ice rink when I was a kid. The fritters look lovely - I've never had banana before.

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

These look fabulous and I love your memory stories.

The Blonde Duck said...

Oh yum! These look wonderful. I love how each post has a cool story with it!

Anonymous said...

My new favorite word is yeastly. Those fritters in orange, wow. Coming to my home soon!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Yeastly has a certain penache about it.

Barbara said...

Mary, I love your story about flooding the empty lots. I never heard of this being that I lived in the South.
The fritters really look good.

Becky said...

Mary, your stories are always so interesting. And the fritters look great, too. I have some bananas that I will hide to get ripe enough to make these. Thanks for sharing the recipe with us.

Anonymous said...

banana fritters sounds yummy... can we make them w/o the yeast? thanks :)

dp said...

So much for sticking to my diet :-) Hubby and I are both drooling over these. I'm normally not a big banana fan, unless they're packaged in something like this.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Mikky, I searched for an email address but couldn't find one so....this recipe must have yeast in it. The one that follows uses baking powder.

Banana Fritters with Cinnamon - Vanilla Bean Syrup
From: Kim,La

2 c. firmly packed golden brown sugar
1 c. water
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. golden brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) chilled unsalted
butter, cut into small pieces
2 lg. ripe bananas, mashed (about 1
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Vegetable oil (for deep frying)

For Syrup: Heat sugar and water in heavy, small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Add cinnamon stick. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat. Cover and steep 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick. For Fritters: Mix first four ingredients in processor. With machine running, add butter and process until fine crumbs form. Transfer to large bowl. Add mashed bananas and vanilla and stir to form soft but not sticky dough. Turn onto lightly floured work surface and pat or roll into 6 x 12 inch rectangle. Cut into 14 (6 x 3/4 inch) strips. Form strips into rings, pinching ends to seal. (Fritters can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover lightly with cloth. Leave at room temperature.) Heat oil in deep pot to 375 degrees. Deep-fry fritters in batches until crisp and golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Serve with warm syrup.

Mary Bergfeld said...

dp, I hope you enjoy these. Make sure they are cooked through. If these are rushed you'll end up with uncooked dough in the center.

Anonymous said...

Since pond ice is non-existant here in SC, I've spent many a morning in a cold ice rink with my future "Wayne Gretzky". Thank goodness he can drive there now!! This will make a great treat for after the practices

Mary Bergfeld said...

Candy, have you ever wondered who gets the decent - human - hour on the ice. Our hour was always 5 AM. That's neither decent nor human.

Anonymous said...

There are not many things I miss about New England winters, but pond skating would have to be one of them. Lovely story, lovely fritters!

Peter M said...

Frying stuff up can make the simplest ingredients into chocolate sauce anyone?

amycaseycooks said...

I grew up skating on Lake Ellyn in Glen Ellyn, IL. It was always a hard time waiting until it froze oveer, but we loved playing crack the whip.

We are supposed to get a big snow storm tomorrow so these fritters are on my menu.

Thanks for the memories

Mary Bergfeld said...

EAT! I'm so glad you found us. Come back often......Mary

Unknown said...

Isn't it amazing how we used to be able to spend the day on a cold frozen pond! We used to do it..
These fritters look good enough to eat off the page. I am so glad you found me cause I love new recipes and love to cook..Also thank you for the nice things you said about my blog. YOur blog is very refreshing to look at! It also makes me want to eat! I have another blog

Anonymous said...

Funny, my mom baked alot, but saldly, no fritters. I am saving this one bacause it has yeast. Mine don't have yeast... they look wonderful ..

Unknown said...

I love your stories as much as your recipes. Thanks for sharing.

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