Have you ever find yourself in a situation which you have plenty of something but do not know what to do with it? I am not talking about work to be done or your overflowing “to do” list but a more tangible or let me say “edible” stuff. I felt this way some weeks before when my sister came up with a whole big honey comb sent by one of her grateful patients who was a beekeeper. Comb was full of insanely delicious wildflower honey derived from the nectar of many types of flowers with intense flavor. It was the purest honey I have ever tasted up to now and good part is that I had lots of it.
You can distinguish a high quality honey by its consistency and taste. A good quality honey should have less water content making it denser. Most common test is to pour a small amount of honey into a glass of water and observe what happens. If it dissolves easily in water than your honey is most probably diluted but if it settles at the bottom and form a lump it has a higher chance to be pure. A genuine honey has a more distinct taste compared to the ones blended with corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners. As for the color; there are three categories: light, amber and dark. The darker it gets the more mineral content it has; however color is not a direct indicator of quality. Some producers add molasses to make honey look darker but anyone with a fair gustatory sense might easily tell the difference.
Sitting in front of a big chunk of wildflower honey, I started to think about recipes that might be done with it and suddenly the taste of a toothsome dessert revived on my palate, fritters in honey syrup.
This is a traditional recipe from Aegean side of Turkey; however you’ll come across with its variations in Greece and Middle East too. It is a doughnut like dessert called “Lokma” in Turkish which means “bite”. In Greece they call it as Lokmades. Even though the batter looks like simple yeast dough, ending up with the right consistency to form a sphere like shape in the frying pan is quite difficult. I prepared the same batter with different amount of ingredients six times and one thing was common among all, they all failed! I was about to give up and carry on with some other dessert but I couldn’t help giving one last chance. Voilà! Being stubborn like a goat finally rewarded at my seventh attempt; incredibly delicious fritters with crispy outer shells and soft inner parts as they were supposed to be.
If you do not have the right recipe in hand (my version turned out to be a good one after all my research and development efforts) most probably you will end up with a puffy and soft fritters soaked in frying oil but do not worry I won’t let you fail.
First of all, you should be very careful about not overmixing the batter. If you overmix, gluten will develop in the batter and you will end up with bread like fibred texture and a soft outer shell, with almost no crispness. Another important point is to make your syrup ready and to cool it down to room temperature before you start frying.
For the syrup I used honey and sugar combination and also add cardamom seeds, a few cloves and another must have: cinnamon stick, to end up with an enriched flavor. Normally syrup should be plain but I am so happy with the result that I can honestly claim that this is an improved version of a traditional dessert. So get ready to spice up!
Ingredients (makes 8 servings)
For the batter
- 200ml (6.76 fl. oz) warm water
- 280g (9.87 oz) all purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons liquid vegetable oil + 2cups for frying
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
- A pinch of salt
For the syrup
- 1 ⅓ cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup good quality honey
- Zest of one lemon
- 10 cardamom seeds
- 2 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
|1.||Combine all ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and boil until it thickens. (Around 10 minutes).|
|2.||Strain syrup into a bowl and cool it down to room temperature.|
|3.||Combine dry ingredients (flour, instant yeast, salt, confectioners’ sugar) in a bowl and blend.|
|4.||Mix warm water, oil and egg in another bowl and then pour on the dry ingredients.|
|5.||Mix with a fork until they are roughly combined and form a soft batter. Pay attention not to overmix.|
|6.||Cover with a stretch film and keep it in a warm place for about 2 hours or until the batter doubles in volume. You will end up with a soft and sticky batter.|
|7.||Pour 2 cups of vegetable oil in a frying pan and place on high heat. When the oil becomes hot enough for frying turn the level of heat to normal.|
|8.||Immerse a small spoon in hot oil and take a small piece of batter with it. Then quickly leave it in the frying pan by paying attention not to elongate the batter. You may completely submerge the batter in frying oil which will help you to make round shaped fritters. Do not panic if first few fritters end up with a strange shape, you will progress on the second round.|
|9.||Fry both side of the fritters until they gain a golden color (A few minutes).|
|10.||Take fritters out of the pan and directly throw into cold syrup. Mix with a slotted spoon for a few seconds and transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately while they are still warm, you may sprinkle more cinnamon according to your preference.|