Russian Apple Doughnuts (Ponchiki) Recipe

Homemade doughnuts have never been quicker (pro-tip: make the batter the night before for the ultimate breakfast).

Dec 13 2017, 2:00pm

Photo by Leela Cyd

Makes about 4 dozen
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 45 minutes


for the thyme sugar:
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1¼ cup granulated sugar

for the apple ponchiki:
4 cups|480 grams all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup kefir
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup baked apple puree (page 324), or thick applesauce
1 cup tvorog (also labeled farmer’s cheese—page 359)
3 small apples, peeled and cut into ⅓-inch dice
High-heat oil for frying (I use canola or peanut)
Lingonberry jam (optional)


1. Make the thyme sugar: In a large bowl, mix the thyme and sugar, pressing them together to bruise the thyme leaves and scent the sugar (you can use a muddler, a mortar and pestle, or a wooden spoon). Set the sugar aside.

2. Make the apple ponchiki: Whisk together the flour and baking powder, and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in large bowl with a wooden spoon, beat together the kefir, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and apple puree until smooth and combined. Add the flour mixture and the tvorag and mix for just a few seconds—you want the flour to be fully incorporated, but you should still see small lumps of farmer’s cheese. The batter will be fairly stiff. Fold in the diced apple.

3. Pour 3 inches of oil into a large, heavy pot (like a Dutch oven), and heat the oil to 360°F (a pinch of flour should sizzle, but not darken immediately). While the oil is heating, line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.

4. When the oil is hot, using a small scoop or two spoons, scoop out 2-tablespoon lumps of dough to form fritters, and slide into the hot oil. Repeat until the pot is mostly full, leaving some room for them to expand. Fry, turning as needed, until the fritters are a light golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes total. When the ponchiki are cooked, skim them out of the hot oil with a spider or slotted spoon, let them drain on the paper towels for about 30 seconds, and then tip them into the bowl with the sugar. Shake the ponchiki around to coat them evenly with the sugar. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot, with lingonberry jam if desired.

Excerpted from the book KACHKA by Bonnie Frumkin Morales. Copyright © 2017 by Bonnie Frumkin Morales. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved.