Apple Ricotta Fritters for Hank (gluten-free or not)

Gluten-Free Apple Fritters

I associate apple fritters with my biological father, Hank.  Toward the end of his life, I only saw Hank once a year when I would go to Vancouver to visit my sister.  At that time, he did not have a phone or internet, so you just had to show up at this apartment building and hope that he was there.  We would walk to his favourite bakery, the last holdover in a now gleaming neighborhood from a humbler era.  It was a tiny place, with one glass case full of bear claws, apple fritters and jelly donuts.  You exchanged a couple of dollars for a small greasy bag of donut goodness over a small Formica counter.  The proprietress was an elderly Chinese woman with whom my father liked to flirt.  Hank liked to flirt with old ladies.    This was a man who, in his youth, had managed to seduce three of the smartest and most beautiful women I know (the mothers of my brother, sister and myself).  So even as a scruffy old guy his powers of flirtation were strong.  Visiting the bakery lady was a sweet outlet for his charismatic and mischevious impulses.

We would continue to walk, slowly, in whatever direction Hank dictated, while he informed me about the history of various parks around Vancouver, his theories about the future of world politics (all frighteningly accurate with a few years hindsight) and stories about his various encounters with ghosts.  Hank passed away near Halloween in 2010.  My sister and I agreed that it was just like our father to go at the time of year when the veil between the living and the dead is thought to be the thinnest.

hankHank is a hard person to write about.  He was complicated, and anything that I try to say seems reductive once I write it down.   Also, I know that my stories about him sometimes seem made up.  Really, if I saw a movie starring Hank as the father figure I would probably think, “who thinks this stuff up?”  So, although I write a food blog that focuses a great deal on family food stories, I have barely mentioned Hank.   Of everyone I have ever known though, Hank was my favourite person to talk about my creative work with.  I did not spend much time with him as a child but I felt truly seen and understood by him as an adult.  I miss him, and really could have used more time with him.  If he was around still, I would make him these apple fritters…but we would probably still want go to the bakery so he could flirt with the old proprietress.
If you want to make these not gluten free just repalce the millet flour, mochi flour and tapioca flour with 1 cup total all purpose flour made from wheat.
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup mochi flour (also known as sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup apple, peeled, cored and finely diced  (1 small apple)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 room temperature eggs
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1  teaspoon grated lemon zest (the zest of 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • sunflower oil or vegetable oil, for frying
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl.
  2. In another small bowl mix together the granulated sugar and cinnamon
  3. Peel and core your apple.  Finely dice it into small 1/4″ pieces.  Toss the diced apple with 1 Tablespoon of the sugar cinnamon mixture.
  4.  Whisk together ricotta, eggs, maple syrup, lemon zest and vanilla in another bowl.  Stir in the flour mixture and then fold in the apples.
  5. Heat about 2 inches of oil to deep fry in.  I like to test the oil with a small drop of batter.  It should foam up, but not violently.  If your oil gets too hot at any point the quickest way to cool it down is to add more oil.  Working in batches (I do about 6 at a time), gently drop in heaping tablespoons of batter and fry, turning occasionally, until deep golden. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.  Test the first few that make to be sure that you are cooking them all the way through.  If they are getting too dark on the outside, but are still raw in the center the oil is too hot.
  6. Roll each drained fritter in the remaining  cinnamon and granulated sugar mixture to coat it completely.   These are best in the few hours after they are made, but are still good the next day with coffee or tea.


12 Comments Add yours

  1. pippacatling says:

    Wonderful entry Erin – how fortunate you are to have a mother who allowed you to discover, appreciate and celebrate your father! The photographs are stunning.

    1. Thank you Pippa! I am a very lucky.

  2. MacBryan Green says:

    A charming story, very well told/written.

    1. Thank you! I love that you read my posts cousin!

  3. Mona says:

    Love the photo of Hank.

  4. Glenda says:

    Oh, great remembrance, photos and recipe, Erin. This made me cry, in a good way. Love, Mum

  5. Silvi says:

    Hey Erin,

    What bakery are you talking about? I want to do some groundwork to see if it’s still around. Seems he was the one that gave me my love of bakeries that I still have today. Baked treats are such a simple and cheap let artisinal pleasure. When he was living downtown, Hank used to take me to the “Canadian” bakeries (yeah that’s what they were called). There were two of them on and around Davie Street, the boisterous gay drag in Vancouver stacked with take out, liquor, sex, drug stores, clubs, restaurants and apartments. It’s one of the most unique neighbourhoods in Vancouver. We would go for poppy rolls and, of course, apple turnovers. Chinese take out was also a big deal.

    From when I was a child, I have two vivid bakery memories. These are both in Kitsilano in Vancouver’s westside. One was going for tzadziki at the Parthenon (best in Van. — still is) and then across the street to the pita bakery where we would get fresh baked pita bread. One favourite variety was black on top with zataar. I’ve never seen a pita bakery in my life since this one. *sigh*

    The second is still there, Patisserie Bordeaux at 10th and Alma. We used to have a bookstore half way up the block in the 80s and 90s and I worked there again as a chocolatier in 2011/12. (Not that I worked there in the 80’s, I was a baby then.) Anyways, their croissants are the croissants against which I measure all others for the duration of my life as far as I can tell. I had quite an epiphany while eating one when I worked at the chocolate shop. Oh….. this is *the* croissant, I thought. This is exactly what they are meant to be.

    1. The bakery was somewhere downtown and it was always paired with Chinese takeout…donuts first, then Chinese food. Maybe it was one of the Canadian Bakeries? I think that I remember that one near the bookstore too. I have a memory of you demanding a cookie the size of your head…not loud whiny demanding…you just gave him “the look”. It was a carbon copy of HIS look and I foudn it very amusing to see Hank react to having his own look leveled at him by a toddler.

  6. Silvi says:

    Also is that very fancy Snow White-type apple called a Winesap? They are nothing like that here on the west coast.

    1. Yes! That is a winesap. Chris brought me some from upstate New York a few years back and I used them to make Estonian apple cake! I did not know that they didn’t grow in the west.

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