“Take the Yolks of eight Eggs, the Whites of four, beat them well together, and strain them into a Pan; then take a quart of Cream, warm it as hot as you can to endure you Finger in it; then put to it a quarter of a pint of Sack, three quarters of a pint of Ale, and make a Posset of it; when your Posset is cool, put to it your Eggs, beating them well together; then put in Nutmeg, Ginger, Salt and Flour to your liking: Your Batter should be pretty thick; then put in Pippins sliced or scraped; fry them in a good store of hot Lard with a quick Fire.“
Eliza Smith, The Compleat Housewife, or the Accomplsh’d Gentlewoman’s Companion (1729)
This apple fritter recipe comes from the Eliza Smith’s extremely no-nonsense manual of household management. For health and safety reasons, I should point out that modern cooks might wish to eschew the ‘stick your finger in it’ method of gauging whether or not the cream is warm enough. I’d suggest that when it starts to gently steam around the edges it’s probably done. As for the toss-away “make a Posset of it“, as usual the esteemed Foods of England Project comes to the rescue: their Posset page offers several recipe options.
‘Sack‘ is an old name for Spanish or Canary Island fortified wine, so sherry will do as a decent substitute. Ale should be easy enough to come by, although it’s worth noting that back in the eighteenth century, ‘ale’ was generally considered to be different to ‘beer’; the former was usually maltier and flavoured with herbs and occasional spices, the latter used hops as the main bittering agent. Go for something like Old Speckled Hen or Black Sheep (assuming you’re shopping at a UK local supermarket) or your own favourite brown ale, rather than a Golden Ale or IPA.
After that, it’s just a case of thickening and spicing the mix to a batter, then chucking in some sliced or grated apples and frying it up! Sounds rather delicious to me. I wonder how Eliza Smith would feel about serving them up with a dollop of Crème fraîche..?
If you decide to have a go at making Eliza Smith’s version of Apple Fritters, please do let me know, either via the comments, or by emailing me with your notes and photos.