Doughnuts tend to be a fall and winter comfort for me. I love to fry them up, then dunk with glaze, fill with pastry cream, or devour them alongside piping hot cups of coffee. But after sharing my favorite apple fritter recipe with a friend, I realized I was missing a golden opportunity: a doughnut that celebrated juicy, ripe stone fruit that’s only available in the summer months. And so, peach fritters were born.
These doughnuts are fun and easy, especially if you’re a fan of regular doughnut-making. I like to use my favorite yeast doughnut recipe, but you can do what moves you (a baked doughnut recipe could easily have peaches added to it as well). They end up golden, fluffy, and packed full of juicy pockets of fruit; summer will never be the same. Ready to dive in? Here’s what you need to know:
For a true fritter recipe, you’ll want to start with a yeast doughnut dough. Most recipes are just a few ingredients: flour, liquid (water, milk, buttermilk, or a combo), yeast, salt, and flavoring. Some recipes (mine, for example) will also include other enrichments like eggs, a small amount of sugar, butter, oil, etc. These ingredients make the dough softer, lighter, and fluffier (aka: awesome). The additional ingredient here is, of course, peaches! The riper and juicier, the better. No need to sweeten them—I don’t even like to peel mine (though you can if you prefer). Just dice the peaches up. Note that this recipe works great with other kinds of stone fruit too. When not using peaches, nectarines and apricots ain't too shabby.
Mixing the Dough
Yeast doughnuts require a moderate level of mixing to build structure. I usually opt to use a stand mixer, but it can be mixed by hand (remember that enriched yeast doughnut dough will likely be sticky and slightly more difficult to work with by hand). Follow the recipe’s guidelines, but generally, yeasted doughnut dough should be mixed on low speed until the dough comes together, then mixed on medium speed to strengthen gluten strands.
Because most yeast doughnut doughs have a decent amount of enrichments, they can take a decent amount of time to rise (1-2 1/2 hours after mixing, and another 30 minutes or so after shaping). If you’re impatient like me, rise overnight instead. Use cool liquid to mix the batter the night before instead of warm liquid the day of. Then transfer your dough to a greased bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Just remember to bring the dough to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
I like to use a different shaping method for these than my apple fritters, which are sort of sandwiched pieces of dough with filling inside. Instead, I use a fun, easy, sort of freeform technique, cutting the dough into bite size squares, then piling diced peaches inside.
Rustic is the end game here. Start by rolling out your dough into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. The size/precise shape of the rectangle doesn’t matter—just the thickness. Use a knife, pastry scraper, or bench knife to cut the dough into long vertical strips about 1/2 inch wide—just eyeball it! Next, cut the strips horizontally about 1/2-inch wide—making a bunch of 1/2-inch squares. No need to be precise—you’re just aiming to make small, bite-size squares.
Divide your squares into 12 even portions. To shape each doughnut, take about 2/3 of one portion of dough squares and smoosh them gently together. Don’t smoosh too much, you want the pieces to retain their own shape—the idea is just to press them together enough that once they rise, they’ll stay in place. Place about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of diced peaches on top of the dough, then layer the remaining 1/3 of the portion of dough squares and smoosh gently to adhere to the peaches and other dough. Each piece of peach should touch dough in two places (on top and on bottom), otherwise some may fall out when you fry them.
Once you’ve assembled all the fritters, cover them with greased plastic wrap and let rise for 20-30 minutes. This rise time is important. In addition to improving the texture and flavor of the dough, it helps the dough pieces adhere to each other and the peaches, making them easier to handle and fry later.
While the shaped fritters rise, heat your oil. If you have one, use a deep-fry thermometer to test the oil and help regulate the temperature—around 350° F is best. If you don’t have one, do it the way my great-great grandma did: Throw a doughnut hole or scrap piece of dough into the oil and see if it sizzles and rises to the surface. When it does, you’re good to go. Because the peach fritters are formed very simply, I find it can be helpful to fry in batches, no more than 2-3 fritters at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Plan on working in batches. I also find that supporting the fritters with a spider or slotted spoon for the first 15-30 seconds while the dough’s structure sets leads to a higher success rate of fully formed doughnuts. If left to their own devices, some doughnuts may break apart a bit when added to the oil. Never fear: Stray pieces can still be fried to perfection and served like beignets, dusted with powdered sugar. Or they can be your own personal snack stash. You are making homemade doughnuts, after all. You deserve it.
My favorite draining system for doughnuts is a simple rack placed on top a baking sheet covered with several layers of absorbent paper towels.
There’s two main directions to go here—glazed or sugar-dusted. My preferred glaze is a light honey-flavored glaze that really makes the peaches pop. But a dusting of powdered sugar or a dredging in cinnamon sugar would be pretty amazing, too. If you’re going the sugar route, apply it while the doughnuts are fresh from the fryer. If you’re glazing, let the doughnuts cool for 5-10 minutes before you apply. The warmer the doughnut, the more the glaze will run off/fully coat the doughnut. If you let it cool, you can drizzle or glaze only on the surface, if that’s your thing.
Remember that the best doughnuts are fresh doughnuts. We’re talking within 30 minutes of frying and glazing. Keep doughnuts at room temperature, and try to enjoy them the same day they are fried. If you must, keep them in airtight containers overnight, and enjoy round two.
- 1 recipe Yeast Doughnuts (https://food52.com/recipes/28778-basic-yeast-doughnuts-with-many-variations)
- 3 large peaches, diced (I don’t peel them, but you can)
- oil, as needed for frying
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons wildflower honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream