These perfect Caramel Apple Fritters are out of this world. Filled with tart caramelized apples and ribbons of cinnamon, which is the perfect compliment to this buttery yeast dough. Topped with a vanilla glaze which adds just a hint of sweetness to the crisped outside. These fritters are the perfect brunch, dessert or after school snack!
Today is my youngest daughter’s 5th birthday, and although these Apple Fritters are one of my family’s favourite fall treat, these happen to be her favourite breakfast. I was up bright and early, around 5:30, and these tasty treats were ready to eat by 8.
If you have never made homemade caramel apple fritters you are in for a treat. It sounds like a lot of work but most of the time is spent waiting for the dough to rise, or rest. This is a simple recipe perfect for beginners and experts alike.
The trickiest part is making sure to poke all the apples in so they don’t all fall out when its time to fry. It is totally worth it!
Get ready to enjoy a perfectly fried donut, with a crisp outer layer and tender apple cinammon filling.
This dough is a little more robust and capable of holding its filling. If you are looking for options lighter doughnuts I’ve got those too!
How To Make Caramel Apple Fritters
Start by adding 1 cup of warm milk, not hot, to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add sugar and yeast and let stand until it begins to foam and bubble. This lets you know the yeast is alive and ready to get to work.
Once the yeast is bubbling (like in the bottom photo) its time to add the flour, salt, vanilla, and egg yolks. Using the dough hook attachment knead until everything is mostly combined. At this point with the mixer running on low add the butter one tablespoon at a time, making sure it is completely incorporated before adding the next.
After everything has been combined, do the last little bit of kneading by hand to avoid over doing it. Lightly flour your counter and turn the dough out on top. Fold and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, this dough should be a touch sticky still but hold its structure. Once it has been kneaded, place the dough into a large lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let dough rise about an hour.
While the dough is rising it’s time to prepare the apples for filling. Because these fritters use caramelized apples its important that the apples have time to cool down before they are added to the dough. Get three (or four if smaller) apples and peel, core, and dice them into nice sized pieces.
My favourite apple to use is a Honey Crisp, that tart and sweet contrast really makes it the perfect apple for baking.
Place the butter into a large saucepan and melt over medium heat.
Once the butter has melted add the diced apples, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir well to coat all the apple pieces in cinnamon sugar. Cook the apples, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat until they are just soft (not mush). This will take about ten minutes and the liquid in the pan should be a nice caramel texture that coats the apples. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool before adding to the dough.
How To Assemble
This is the only part where things can seem like they are going sideways, but honestly just except that you will get sticky and there will always be one piece of apple that refuses to cooperate and stay in the dough. Well let it go, if the apple doesn’t want to be a part of the donut that is fine…there is more than enough caramely apple goodness in these donuts that you don’t need to stress about losing the odd piece.
Start by lightly flouring your counter and punch out the dough into a rough rectangle. Using a rolling pin roll the dough out to about a1/2″ thickness, trying to keep the rectangle shape (doesn’t have to be perfect).
Its time for the apple goodness, this is the part where my mouth starts watering. It is the smell of the apples with all the cinnamon sugar goodness that gets me every time, it’s a weakness!
Grab the pan with the apples and spread them out over on half of the dough.
Now take the other side of the dough and fold it so it covers over top of the apples. Once all the apples are covered by the dough pinch down all around the edge to prevent the seam from opening up and keeping all the caramel apple goodness inside.
Now its time to chop the dough all up. Part of what makes fritters so fantastic is all the grooves and pieces on the outside that fry up to a crisp golden brown but leaves lots of nooks and crannies for the delicious glaze to fill in.
You can make them nice and smooth and really push them down, but those grooves are exactly what you want in a good apple fritter.
Start by chopping the dough into 1″ segments, cleaning of the knife as needed so the dough doesn’t stick. After you have done all the vertical cuts, starting in one corner cut 1″ segments at an angle all the way down. It should look something like this.
Sprinkle a little flour over the top of the chopped dough, also lightly flour your hands. Now working gently bring the dough together until it forms a log, about 12″ length. Don’t push too hard as we want to keep all the chunks and pieces to get that apple fritter texture.
Line two baking trays with parchment and set aside. Using a sharp, clean, knife, slice the log on an angle into 1″ pieces giving you 12, or a dozen, donuts in total. Working one piece at a time, with floured hands, gently gather the cut pieces and shape into a disc. Paying attention to tuck in any apples on the outside but not over doing it and losing the pieced texture we worked so hard to get.
Pictures might show better how easy it actually is. Place the prepared fritter onto the parchment lined baking sheet and repeat this step with the remaining pieces. I use two baking trays so the donuts have enough space in between them, 6 on each one.
Once you have shaped all the apple filled dough into fritters and put them on the baking tray it is time to cover them with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Let the doughnuts rest and just starting to puff up. Now is the time to warm up the deep fryer so the oil will be at temperature when it is time to bake.
Stick with it, you’re almost there! Time to make the most delicious caramel apple filled fritters you deserve after all your hardwork!
I fry my fritters a little longer than I would my regular donuts to get that caramelized crispy outside. These fritters are massive, as a good fritter should be, so I only fry two at a time. Cooking about 1-2 minutes per side, again it is ok to lose an apple or two it happens. Repeat this step until all 12 pieces have been fried.
Once all the donuts have become fritters let them cool on wired rack before glazing. I know you want one now but its worth waiting for them to cool, not just because the glaze kicks these up a notch but the level of burning in your mouth if you don’t wait will leave you unable to taste anything for a few days….I may know this from experience.
While the fritters are cooling let’s prep the glaze.
How to Make The Glaze
Combine icing sugar, milk, and vanilla together until it’s about the consistency of honey. Not too runny, but not to thick as the donuts are delicate and we don’t want to pull them apart.
What is great about this recipe is it is versatile enough to be able to switch up the flavours of your glaze. In the fall I love a maple glaze but for my daughter’s birthday I am using vanilla.
Normally when I glaze donuts I just dip the top in and flip over to dry. For the fritters I like to go the extra mile and gently work the icing into all the nooks and crannies.
Pro Tip: You may want to get yourself a pair of rubber gloves for this part.
I mean we worked so hard we need to do them justice by coating it all in a thin layer of icing. I dip one side than gently spread the icing front, back, sides until it is all nicely coated.
Place the donut back on the wired racks to dry. Take the parchment used to line the baking trays and put it under the wire racks to make sure to catch drips and clean up is easy.
Once all 12 fritters are glazed its time to eat, and good news I bet your first one has dried by now and is ready to eat! I suggest you test at least one before you bring them out to share 🙂
Caramel Apple Fritters
- 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup warm milk, not hot but warm to the touch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 3 large tart apples (like Honey crisp) peeled, cored, and diced into about 1/4″ – 1/2″ pieces
- 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter
- pinch of salt
- Flour, for dusting and shaping
- 3 cups icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup milk ( you may need more to get the perfect consistency depending on where you live)
- Place the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Add the sugar and the yeast, stirring with a spoon to just combine. Let stand about 5-10 minutes.
- Add flour, egg yolks, salt, and vanilla. Using the dough hook on medium low mix everything together until almost combined.
- Add the butter one tablespoon to the dough and let it mix until its fully combined. Do this until all the butter is added.
- Lightly flour counter top and place the dough on top to finish kneading. The dough should be a smooth, elastic ball . This dough will still be a bit sticky so just make sure to flour your hands and the top of the dough as needed during kneading.
- Place the dough into a large lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap, or a tea towel, and let it rise in a warm area until has doubled in size. About 1 hour.
- While the dough is rising its time to prepare the apples. Start by peeling, coring, and dicing all the apples into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Place the 3 tablespoons of butter into a large saucepan and melt over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted add the apple pieces, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir well so all the apples are well coated.
- Cook about 10 minutes, until apples are soft and golden brown. Any liquid should be caramel texture and coating the apples. Remove from heat and allow the apple pieces to cool before adding to the dough.
- Once the dough has doubled in size punch it down on lightly floured surface into a rough rectangle shape.
- Place the cooled caramel apples on half the rolled out dough. Take the other side of the dough and fold it over to cover the apples. Pinching the seam to make sure the apples are sealed inside.
- Using a sharp knife cut the rectangle into 1″ strips vertically all the way down. Then, making sure to clean knife so it doesn’t get to sticky it adheres to the dough, starting at one corner cut 1″ strips all the way down the rectangle on an angle.
- Once you have made lots of chops lightly flour the surface of the dough, and your hands, and gently pat the pieces into a 12″ log. Try to poke apples in as you work, but be gentle to not press out all the edges and texture we want to have in our fritters.
- Now slice the 12″ into 1″ slices, for a total of 12.
- Prepare to baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
- Working one slice at a time, with lightly floured hands, work the slice into a somewhat round shape trying to keep most apples inside the dough. Don’t make it perfect, part of the deliciousness and charm of Fritters is all those nooks and crannies that fry up perfect and become enrobed by the glaze.
- Place the prepared fritter round onto the parchment lined baking tray and repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Cover with plastic wrap, or a damp tea towel, and let rest about 20-30 minutes, until just starting to look puffy. Turn on the deep fryer to 355 so the oil will be at temperature when the donuts are ready to void them over-proofing.
- Working two fritters at a time fry them for about 2 minutes a side. Look for a dark golden brown colour.
- Remove the cooked fritters to paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Then move them to wire racks to allow the fritters to cool completely before glazing. About 20 minutes.
- While the fritters cool make the glaze. Add all the glaze ingredients into a bowl and whisk until well combined. The glaze should be about the consistency of honey, thin enough to flow but not so thin its going to just run off.
- Glaze each cooled fritter by dipping into the icing and then using gloved hands to work the glaze onto the front, back, sides, and every ridge possible.
- Place the glazed donut back on the wired rack to cool.
- Let the fritters dry about 10 minutes so glaze sets.
Note: These donuts are actually still great the next day, which isn’t tru of a a lot of donuts. They also freeze really well, so if you can’t eat them all place them in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.