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, and these are the best fats, nutrition wise: Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated. Contrary to the name, the “saturation” deals primarily with not how the food, being fried, absorbs the fats, but the human body. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has a short, but informative, and easily understandable, article on the different fats available, and their benefits, or lack thereof. ()
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 is the crunch of the deep fried batter that 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 Fry Bread, which is nicknamed the “scone” of Utah. Zeppole; singular term is Zeppola, and in the Southern dialects it is Zeppoli, are light, deep-fried dough balls about 2 inches in diameter. They originated in Italy to celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph. Since it is typically in the season of Lent, these can be compared to the German, Fastnachts; a type of deep fried donut made with flour, sugar and a fat. If 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; then taught the technique to his mother. He punched a hole in the center of dough, with the ship's tin pepper box. This enabled the dough to cook thoroughly throughout, and 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 Russia, named Adolph Levitt; 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 fry bread, 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.
Oil for frying
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
2 and ½ tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 and ½ cups diced apple (peeled)
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 and ½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup warm water
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, 2-3 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 6-8 fritters.
...but not to be outdone...
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. baking powder
Powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
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 3-4 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 2 dozen.