I have such fond memories of New Year’s Eve parties when I was a kid growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Crowded rooms filled with my parents’ friends engaged in conversation (a lot of it in Dutch), cigarette smoke filling the air and the clinking of crystal glasses. And, in the kitchen, buckets loaded with Appelflappen (apple fritters) and Oliebollen (fried dough balls) ready to be cooked. The combined smell of spices and cooking oil was always pungent in the air and we kids couldn’t wait for the feasting to begin!
Many years have passed since then and somewhere along the way the Dutch traditions have fallen by the wayside. So, I’ve made it my mission over the last couple of years to give these Dutch New Year’s staples a go. Last year I made the oliebollen and this year it was time to try out the appelflappen (or ‘apple flappies’ as we kids used to call them, LOL). And, I have to say, they didn’t disappoint. Delicious slices of apple rested in cinnamon sugar, encased in a crisp tempura style batter and doused in a snowy layer of icing sugar. Just as good as I remember…
I went to the best source of Dutch recipes – The Dutch Table – for this recipe. I kept to it for the most part, though I did substitute spelt flour for the standard wheat flour (if you want to use spelt flour, use a little less milk as spelt absorbs more liquid than standard flour). The type of apple you use is fairly important – they need to be a little on the tart side given they’re being paired with sugar. I chose good old Granny Smith apples, though they’re not recommended in the original recipe due to them being too tart and juicy. Personally, I love that cheek-puckering tartness, and they cooked perfectly well, but I suggest you go with whichever type of apple you prefer. Enjoy… or should I say, smakelijk eten!
Appelflappen (Dutch Apple Fritters)
For the apple fritters:
- 4 apples (I used 'granny smiths')
- 1 lemon, halved
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the batter:
- 1/2 cup standard flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), to sprinkle
- Peel the whole apples. Grab a small knife and, working with one apple at a time, slice off each end to create straight edges. Now, working from one end, slice the apple horizontally in quarter inch rounds. Take each slice and cut out the core to create a 'hole'. Take a lemon half and rub it over each slice – this ensures it won't brown – and put the apple slices into a bowl. Repeat with the remaining apples.
- Mix together the sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over the apples and toss together. Leave for about 15-20 minutes, during which time you can make the batter.
For the batter:
- In a bowl, add the flour, milk, egg, baking powder and salt and whisk until smooth. The batter is meant to be quite runny (for a tempura style batter), however you can adjust the texture by adding more flour (to make it thicker) or more milk (to make it thinner).
- Heat up the oil in your deep fryer. Once at full heat, take some metal tongs, pick up an apple slice, dunk it into the batter ensuring it is fully covered, and drop carefully into the oil (continue to add as many apple slices as your deep fryer has room for without crowding). When the fritter is golden brown, flip it over to cook the other side. When done, lift the fritter out of the oil shaking off the excess oil, then place on a large plate covered in absorbent kitchen paper (this step is important – if you don't drain the excess oil the fritters will be limp). Repeat with remaining fritters.
- Transfer the fritters to a serving plate, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.
Fabulous recipe that compliments fabulous memories! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much Becky! Yes, very special memories indeed!
They look delicious Susan, do you know if Spelt flour is gluten free? I am on a new diet which is an autoimmune paleo diet and my diet at the moment for at least two months is the most restrictive it has ever been so would appreciate some savoury recipes that might work for me. I am not allowed any grains, nuts or rice, only certain fruits and vege and meat such as lamb, chicken, beef, seafood. No potatoes but allowed sweet potatoe. No nightshade family foods which cuts out my favourite sun dried tomatoes and my little cherry ones that are in my garden :(. Any ideas for something tasty?
Hi Lee. Crikey… I know how you feel about being on such a strict diet – it does limit the choices. Here’s an excerpt from the first post I had on spelt bread –
“Spelt is an ancient grain – 6000 years ancient in fact – with a long list of advantages to its name. It hasn’t been messed about by commercial processing practices, has an impressive array of nutrients, and is much easier to digest than wheat. While it does contain some gluten, that gluten operates very differently to wheat gluten. You see, while wheat gluten gets stronger the more you work it, spelt gluten starts breaking down as you work it – this is what makes it so much easier for us to digest. Many people who can’t eat wheat gluten, can tolerate spelt gluten, though it’s not recommended for those who are coeliac.”
So, the upshot is that even though it works for many people who can’t tolerate gluten, it sounds like grains in general are not okay for you. I’d suggest you look for some hearty dishes like flourless vege frittatas and crustless quiches (if you can have dairy) – you can pack them with lots of veges. Also spiralized ‘pasta’ dishes, using carrot or courgette for instance. Or cauliflower ‘rice’ which again just uses veges. If you can have sweet potatoes, you could have delicious stuffed sweet potatoes with minced lamb or beef and some sour cream (if allowed). I’m sure there’s plenty out there; just a matter of finding a few you really love and which can become staples. PS: You could also check out my paleo/primal index on the recipe page – you might find something you like there. Good luck!
Tasted excellent according to Dutch and Australian taste testers! Thanks for the recipe.
Glad you all liked it Sally! Happy New Year!
As a kiwi living in the Netherlands…. these are my favourite Dutch food. But they’re always called Appel beignet, and they’re very much a New Year item generally sold from food trucks or special stalls, I think you can only get them in Dec/Jan. Appelflappen are puff pastry triangles with apple filling which are baked, they’re available all year round from any baker.
Don’t get me wrong – both are delicious!
I wonder if there’s a regional difference or something to account for the difference in name.
Hi Louisa. How interesting! I Googled it and you’re right, they’re commonly known as Appel Beignets but often called Appelflappen. Then again, I’ve found many Dutch references to Appelflappen being apple fritters – certainly, when I grew up, that’s what they were called and when I visited our Dutch family, they also called them this. I found this remark online regarding the apple fritters: “Apparently not Appelflappen in the modern world, rather an Appelbeignet, although other sources refer to them as Oudhollandse Appelflappen, signifying they may once have been called Appelflappen and the term has changed over time.” Sounds like the term has changed slowly over time from the sound of it.
The difference in name is most likely due to geography, my mother and father are from the province of Groningen, I was born in Oudepekela, and emigrated in the 60s at age 10. I have never heard them called beignets. However, term beignets is of French origin and could be used in southern Nederland due to it’s proximity to Belgium and France. I actually never heard of beignets until recently, in Louisiana.
Thanks Berend.. how fascinating! Sounds reasonable to me. 😊
Further consideration, since “appelflappen” literally means “apple flaps” or “floppy apples”, I would say appelflappen actually refers to fried battered apple slices, these usually won’t remain crisp and will become floppy as they cool. Whereas the term beignets should be applied to the apple filled deep fried pastries, which have a triangular appearance, as with their Louisianna (French) cousin.
Hi again Berend. Yes, that makes sense. Thanks for your comments!
Yes, as a Dutchy living in the US now, I can tell you that appelflappen are different, made with puff pastry and appelbeignets are the things described in this receipe.
Hi. Having read multiple discussion threads on the topic, there doesn’t seem to be much agreement. It seems that it all depends on which region you’re from by the looks of it.