Do you love stories with bakers in them? Me, too! I mean, “Like Water for Chocolate”? “Garden Spells”? I rest my case. Consequently, my heroines are also foodies, with Sylvia Wilkes, my girl in “Breakwater” (book no. 2) taking the cake, yuk-yuk. She opens a bakery, SeaCakes, and her apple fritters help her catch her man. I think everyone should eat these at least once in her life, so I’m sharing Sylvia’s master recipe:
(Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s “Pastries from La Brea Bakery”)
Peel, core, and chop 3-4 tart apples. Toss with ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, ¼ c. sugar, the scrapings of one vanilla bean, and 2 T. brandy. Set aside.
For the dough
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2/3 c. whole milk
3 ¼ c. plus 2 T. unbleached all-purpose flour
4 extra large egg yolks
½ c. sugar
pinch of salt
1/3 c. sparkling apple cider
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 T. pure vanilla extract
Heat the milk to lukewarm. Place the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and add milk. Let soften 1-2 minutes and add 2 c. of the flour. DO NOT STIR. Cover and set aside in a warm place until the surface of the flour cracks, 30 min.
In a separate bowl, combine yolks and sugar, then add the cider, melted butter, salt, cider, cinnamon, vanilla, and remaining flour. Mix until combined and add this mixture to the yeast/milk/flour. Beat with paddle attachment on low until combined and sticky. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface, clean and oil the bowl, return dough, cover and let rise 1 ½ hrs.
Meanwhile, sauté the apple mixture in 3 T. of butter until apples are soft. Remove from heat and drain.
Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface, roll into a rectangle 2 inches thick, and spread half the apples on dough. Fold into thirds (it’s okay if it’s messy) and pinch edges of dough together. Flatten the dough again, spread the remaining apples on it, and fold/pinch/pat flat again. Let rest 30 min.