…from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? Anybody who knows anything about my food likes and dislikes knows that doughnuts are top on my LIKES list. I specifically love Apple Fritters… a form of doughnuts without the hole. They taste great, last two days and are usually the biggest doughnut in the case.
The doughnut business is a dollar business—you lose money by dollars—you make money by pennies, nickels and dimes—so, controlling food costs and waste are as important as bringing customers in the door.
Verne Winchell, who launched a nationwide doughnut franchise business from one drive-through restaurant he opened in 1948 in Temple City, was credited for “inventing” Apple Fritters and God bless him for his efforts.
Winchell became the chief executive and president of Denny’s Inc., which bought Winchell’s Donut Houses in 1968. He took over Denny’s when it was in deep trouble and was able to slowly nurse it back to health.
Winchell was a serial entrepreneur and by the time he started his doughnut empire he already owned Winchell Music (a jukebox business) and Winchell Motors (a used car dealership). In the 1950’s a friend told Winchell there were high margins on doughnuts. He took a $27,000 stake in the business and turned a piece of commercial property he already owned into his first Winchell’s doughnut shop. He invested an additional $300 for a used shallow fish fryer (thoroughly cleaned, I hope), a couple of stainless steel worktables, a dough roller and a bakery funnel. The shop did well and was followed by the opening of several more stores. His doughnut shops took off and Winchell expanded his operation throughout California.
Winchell’s keys to success include careful management, good merchandising and advertising, proper locations, quality products and the reduction in waste. He introduced the Apple Fritter to use the scraps of all the different doughs and piled them high around canned apple pie filling, frying them like regular doughnuts and glazing them over with leftover doughnut glaze.
Over the years, Winchell acquired racehorses, too. One named Donut King (also his own nickname) was the first horse Winchell bought at auction. The horse was among the favorites for the 1954 Kentucky Derby but was injured the week of the race and didn’t run.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Fry time: about 4-5 minutes each
Additional time: 10 minutes
Yield: 16 small size apple fritters / or 8 large fritters
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice cuts
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sparkling apple cider
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
For the glaze
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, or more as needed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sparkling apple cider, or as needed to make glaze
To make the apples
ChefSecret: If you are looking to save a little time, replace the cooking apple procedure with canned Comstock brand apple pie filling.
Quip of the Day: “Anybody who can do at 65 years of age what they were doing at 25, wasn’t do much at 25.”
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©Perspectives/The Consulting Group, Inc., 2021
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