19th century Americans love their wine and brandy almost as much as they love their nutmeg. They were often a staple in recipes.
This particular apple fritter recipe came from the 1828 classic, Mrs. Mary Randolph’s “The Virginia Housewife”. Randolph came from a rich and politically prominent family in Virginia. Her family connections included the Jeffersons among others.
Her brother would go on to marry Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Martha and eventually become the Governor of Virginia. Randolph’s own husband would be appointed the US Marshal of Virginia by George Washington. This move to Richmond, made Mary a popular hostess to the other prominent families there, and her connections sealed her rise in popularity.
Unfortunately, those connections wouldn’t save her family from downfall. Mary’s husband, David was an outspoken critic of Thomas Jefferson. When Jefferson became president in 1801, Jefferson removed David from office, and David’s bankruptcy followed soon after.
A far cry from the life they’ve had before, the Randolphs struggled to stay afloat. In order to pay their bills, Mary opened a boarding house. Mary with a great deal of help from her enslaved cooks would make the boarding house successful, and she would eventually publish the The Virginia Housewife for the first time in 1824.
Her recipes survived and several original copies are in archives throughout the US, bringing us tasty recipes like this one which involves fried wine soaked apples. (I’m beginning to see why our friend Mary was popular).
On that note, I used sweet white wine, as that’s what we had on hand. You can use your own preferences and pantry to customize this recipe to your own tastes. People in the past would have used what they had on hand, and I figure we should too.
I have to admit I’d never had apple fritters before, and now I feel like I’ve been missing out. This one was delicious.
- 2-3 apples
- 1 cup brandy
- 1/2 cup sweet wine
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 pound flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 pound sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 lemon peel grated
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
Heat one cup of oil in a deep frying pan, and heat over medium high heat. Have a slotted spoon and a plate with a paper towel ready. You’ll need this to pull the fritters from the oil and soak up any excess oil.
From the original: “Pare some apples and cut them in thin slices – put them in a bowl, with a glass of brandy, some white wine, a quarter of a pound of pounded sugar, a little cinnamon finely powdered and the rind of a lemon grated; let them stand some time, turning them over frequently; beat two eggs very light, add one quarter of a pound of flour, a table-spoonful of melted butter, and as much cold water as will make a thin batter; drop the apples on a sieve, mix them with the batter, take one slice with a spoonful of batter to each fritter – fry them quickly of a light brown – drain them well, put them in a dish, sprinkling sugar over each, and glaze them nicely.”
Looking for other historic food recipes? Try these peanut butter griddle cakes!
Want to read more of Randolph’s recipes?
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