It is commonly said that the first recorded reference to a fritter is by Samuel Pepys  in 1665.  He does mention eating fritters on Shrove Tuesday, but this is certainly not the first mention of fritters.  Indeed, this famous diary entry of Pepys is predated by a fifteenth century manuscript which details a recipe for apple "fryturs" (and features other recipes for "Gentyll manly Cokere", "copyd of the Sergent to the kyng").  Coincidentally, the manuscript is housed in the Pepys Library of Magdalene College, at the University of Cambridge and is known as MS Pepys 1047.
You can read a transcription and translation at Gode Cookery.

We have adapted this recipe for the modern cook and hope you will enjoy these fritters as much as Samuel Pepys did.  The batter is what makes them exceptional, and we suggest you try making other types of fritter with it.  If you have any batter left over, simply fry it up like a pancake and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.  Cook's spoils!

400ml light ale
1 tsp dried yeast
250g spelt rye flour (or substitute)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 ground cloves
pinch salt
pinch mace
pinch nutmeg
100g unsalted butter
5 egg yolks
1.5 kg sweet eating apples

castor sugar and cinnamon for dusting
beef dripping (or lard) for frying


Warm the ale to blood temperature and add the yeast.  Mix the salt and spices into the flour, then rub in the butter.  It will resemble wet sand but smell delicious.


Beat in the egg yolks, then the ale, to make a batter.  Resist the tantalising aroma (which should momentarily transport you into the fifteenth century if you close your eyes), and let it stand an hour or so.

Peel and core the apples, then slice them into rings (no more than 1cm thick) and coat them in the batter.  Fry the apple rings over moderate heat on both sides until golden brown.  Toss in cinnamon sugar and serve.

24/3/2014 06:15:34 pm

What's mace? Where can I buy please?!

24/3/2014 06:20:37 pm

Mace is the outer part of the nutmeg. If you can't find it, you can use nutmeg instead. However, you should be able to find it in any spice shop and some supermarkets. For example, Aussie Spices has it if you do a search on their site:

24/3/2014 06:55:11 pm

Thank you!!

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