crispy apple ring doughnuts at Cusp in La Jolla

Cusp chef Donald Lockhart clearly loves his sweets. When I visited the restaurant at brunch time to watch him whip up a batch of Crispy Apple Rings for Serious Eats, he momentarily disappeared to the kitchen to dip into a big bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough before getting started. In that moment, I felt a powerful kinship (cookie dough, especially chocolate chip, is one of my favorite foods).

The Apple Rings are the featured seasonal doughnut until the end of January. They’ve got the look of a yeast doughnut, but are really more like a sweet spin on an onion ring. Take a look at how quickly they come together on Serious Eats, and if you’re feeling inspired, the recipe is below.

Crispy Apple Rings
Executive Chef Donald Lockhart

1 ½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup soda water
¼ cup buttermilk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Fiji apple, peeled, cored and sliced width-wise into flat circles
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Toss raw apple rings in lemon juice until coated.
2. Combine 1 cup of flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Stir in the soda water and buttermilk until just combined. In a second bowl, mix the powdered sugar and remaining ½ cup of flour together.
3. Toss the apple slices in the powdered sugar mixture, and then dip the apples one-by-one in the batter, submerging them all the way.
4. Add 2 cups of canola oil to a 1 ½ deep skillet. Heat oil on medium high or until it reaches 350 F. If you have a small personal fryer, that may work the best. Once oil is hot enough, which is when dough floats to the top, carefully add the battered apple slices. The oil will be very hot.
5. Cook until brown, about 1-2 minutes, then flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes until both sides are browned. 6. Transfer to paper towels to absorb excess oil.
7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, granola, and warm caramel.

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