The “hmmm” of some fried dough

Fried foods, in general, give the kind of mouth-feel that says, “All is right with the world.”

“Why?” is the question, but we all know the answer. It’s the fat. It does something to our taste buds and our brains that makes us feel happy all over.

Fats dissolve quickly, concentrate flavor, and release odor chemicals into the air. The molecules from these chemicals enter the nose and mouth so one experiences the “taste” even before the food is eaten.

For example, when bacon is sizzling in the pan with the smell wafting throughout the kitchen, the salivary glands begin working and you can “taste” that bacon before it is fully cooked.

But is eating fat good for the human body? Good question. And the answers are surely confusing when considering Unsaturated Fat vs. Saturated Fat vs. Trans Fat.

Unsaturated Fat has two categories; these are the best fats nutritionally: Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated. Contrary to the name, the “saturation” deals primarily with not how the fried food, absorbs the fats, but how the human body absorbs them.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has a short but informative, easily understandable article on the different fats available and their benefits, or lack thereof. (www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-choles...)

Using “bad fats” for cooking is often justified by thinking the basic nutrition of a food will outweigh the “bad.”

For instance, deep fried vegetables, even the light Tempura style, are packed with veggie nutrition, right?

Sure, whatever you say. But we all know it’s the crunch of the deep-fried batter we crave, and no one is thinking about nutritional value.

Now, when it comes to deep frying, dough is a favorite in many cultures. Native Americans have frybread, which is nicknamed the “scone” of Utah.

Zeppole – singularly, Zeppola and Zeppoli in the South – are light, deep-fried dough balls about two inches in diameter.

They originated in Italy to celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph. Since the feast typically takes place during Lent, these can be compared to the German Fastnachts, a type of deep-fried donut made with flour, sugar, and a fat.

In New Orleans the Beignet is the equivalent. All can be covered in powdered sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes filled with fruit or jam.

The All-American favorite is the donut, supposedly invented by Hanson Gregory, an American. He created the ring-shaped dough-nut in 1847 aboard a lime-trading ship when he was 16 years old. He then taught the technique to his mother.

He punched a hole in the center of some dough with the ship’s tin pepper box. This enabled the dough to cook thoroughly throughout and made it easy to flip over.

Now this story has been deemed an old sea tale, considering fried dough has been around for centuries within many global cultures.

The hole in the dough-nut is attributed to a Jewish refugee from czarist Russian named Adolph Levitt who was responsible for inventing the first automated doughnut machine in 1920.

His machine-produced doughnuts were labeled the “Hit Food of the Century of Progress” at the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair.

Whether it is frybread, Beignets, Zeppole, or any other type of fried dough, deep down inside, we all have a little Homer Simpson in us. “Hmmm...donuts.” ’Nuff said, and here are two recipes to try when you have got that fried sweet food craving

Apple Fritters

Ingredients:

Oil for frying; 2 cups flour; ½ cup sugar; 1 tsp. salt; 3 tsp baking powder; 2 ½ tsp cinnamon; 2/3 cup milk; 2 eggs, beaten; 1 ½ cups diced apple (peeled)

Glaze:

3 cups confectioner’s sugar; 1 ½ tsp vanilla; ½ cup warm water

Preparation:

Fill deep fryer to fill line, or deep skillet halfway up, with oil; bring temperature up to 375F.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add in milk and eggs; beat, on medium speed, till smooth; fold in diced apple.

Use 1/3 measuring cup to spoon up batter, and a rubber spatula to ease the batter into the oil. Depending on size of deep fryer, or deep skillet, two to three fritters can be made at a time.

While first batch is frying, in a small bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla and water to make the glaze; whisk until smooth and creamy.

When fritters are golden brown, drain on paper towels and let cool slightly; dip fritters into glaze and place on jelly roll pan lined with waxed or parchment paper.

Makes six to eight fritters.

...but not to be outdone...

Zeppoli

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil; 2 cups all-purpose flour; 3 eggs; 3 Tbsp. sugar; ¼ tsp. baking powder; Powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

Preparation:

Pour oil to fill line in a deep fryer, or deep skillet; bring temperature to 400F.

In medium bowl, mix together flour, eggs, sugar and baking powder until smooth. Using a teaspoon, drop batter into the hot oil; depending on size of fryer, about three to four at a time.

To turn the Zeppoli in the hot oil, use a wooden chopstick or kebob skewer. When the Zeppoli floats to the top, and is golden brown all around, remove to paper towels to drain. While hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes about two dozen.

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