Fall is finally here and it feels so good! It’s that time of year when you pull out the cozy sweaters and fall baking spices to fully embrace the cooler weather. In my home, fall does not begin without diving headlong into true comfort baking by way of fried dough. Either doughnuts or, in this case, Spiced Pear & Pecan Fritters with Cinnamon-Maple Glaze. If you enjoy the classic apple fritter, you’ll love this pear-pecan version. A fall spiced fritter that features a pillow-soft interior studded with tender pieces of pear and lightly crunchy toasted pecans. Fried to golden perfection, their crispy exteriors are dipped into the cinnamon-maple glaze with it seeping into every nook and cranny.
An important note to remember while creating these fritters: Don’t stress about the dough cutting process. Fritters are rustic pastries that are meant to be messy to make, with each one looking a little different. That’s part of their charm! Even if you bungle the entire cutting and shaping process, you’re still going to end up with delicious fritters.
Makes 8 fritters
2 ¼ tsp instant dry yeast
½ cup warm water
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups bread flour, plus more for sprinkling
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
Vegetable oil for frying
Spiced Pear-Pecan Filling
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and diced into 1/4″ – 1/2″ cubes
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp kosher salt
¼ cup toasted pecans pieces
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
½ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp kosher salt
For the Fritter Dough
In a stand mixer bowl, lightly whisk together the yeast and water. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Add the butter, vanilla, and egg to the yeast mixture, then add the dry ingredients. Using the dough hook attachment, on low speed, mix dough until it forms a soft ball and pulls away cleanly from the sides and bottom of the bowl. Increase to medium speed and mix dough for 8 minutes. Final dough should be smooth and slightly tacky, but not sticky. Transfer dough to a large clean bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest for 2 hours or until doubled in size. While the dough rises, prepare the spiced pear-pecan filling.
For the Spiced Pear Pecan Filling
In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the diced pears, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Cook pears, stirring occasionally, until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated from pan. Remove from heat and gently stir in pecans. Transfer spiced pear-pecan mixture onto a clean baking pan, spread into a single layer, and set on a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the fritter dough has doubled in size, roll it out into an 11” x 11” square (about ½” thick) on a lightly floured surface. Spread the cooled spiced pear-pecan mixture onto half of the dough, then fold the other half of dough over the mixture to cover. Press down the dough edges lightly to seal.
Using a bench scraper, or a large knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch strips vertically and then repeat the same process horizontally across the dough (creating a checkerboard pattern). With the bench scraper, lightly scoop up the pieces and rearrange them to separate the pieces. Repeat the cutting process once more. Pears should be well dispersed throughout small pieces of dough.
With floured hands, shape the dough into a 12-inch by 4-inch log. Generously sprinkle the surface of the log with flour and cut into 8 pieces, around 1” thick. With floured hands, scoop up and shape each piece into a small mound. Be sure the dough and pears sticks together or they will separate during frying. Place dough mounds onto a floured parchment lined baking sheet, spacing 2-inches apart. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cinnamon-maple glaze (recipe below).
Prepare a deep fryer with oil and heat to 350F for frying the fritters. Alternatively, fill a large heavy-bottomed pot with at least 2-inches of oil and attach a deep fry thermometer to the inside. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Set aside.
With well-floured hands and a spatula, carefully remove the dough from the baking sheet and gently lower one or two fritters into the oil. Fry fritters for 1-2 minutes on one side until deeply golden, then gently flip over to cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove fritters from oil and transfer to the prepared baking sheet to cool slightly. While still warm, dip the entire rounded side of each fritter into the cinnamon-maple glaze. Set back onto the wire rack to allow the glaze to set. Repeat the process with the remaining fritters. Serve and enjoy the fritters while they are still warm.
For the Maple Glaze
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Glaze should be slightly runny, but still thick enough to coat. Cover and set aside until ready to use.