Fantastic Food: Apple Uglies


I am fresh off the amazing but, exhausting 4th grade / Rising 5th grade O (Oceanography) Club trip with my son and 80 children and 80 parents to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A highlight of the trip was a trip to the Orange Blossom Cafe on Hatteras Island.  We walked in the door and almost were knocked down by the delicious smell.  The signature item is the huge apple fritter type pastry called an Apple Ugly.  I promise it could be worth the trouble to make these yummies.


The Ugly Line via Our State Magazine

The taste of a Buxton bakery’s awful-looking Apple Uglies makes eating breakfast a kiss-the-frog affair.


At first glance, you might think there is a platter of mangled rotisserie chickens on the breakfast counter. But you’re looking at the Apple Ugly, a big, deep-fried, cinnamon-laced fritter with apples and glaze that ooze out slowly when you take a bite.

Customers at Buxton’s Orange Blossom Bakery and Cafe know better than to judge the pastry on appearance.

“The uglier and more twisted it is, ” owner Charley Pereira says, “the more cracks and crevices it has to soak up the glaze.”

Instant hit

The Orange Blossom began in the 1950s as a six-unit motel. But when Allan and Doris Oakham converted it into a bakery in 1979, a visitor brought Doris a new recipe. Soon, the Orange Blossom legacy took shape in a vat of vegetable oil.

The visitor dropped doughnut dough with apples and cinnamon into a deep-fryer, and Doris Oakham used her son’s drumsticks to turn it. “The more we cooked it, the uglier it got, ” she says.

But the Apple Ugly was an instant hit, and customers ate it up, right down to the sticky parts left in the paper bag. They also got a good laugh. A vacationing preacher went home and wrote in his bulletin, “It was the first time I’d ever been asked to stand in the Ugly line.”

“We had two lines, ” Oakham explains, one for regular baked goods and one for Apple Uglies. “The Ugly line went clear out the front door, ” she says.

Patty Craig of Virginia has vacationed in Buxton since 1996, and she knows you have to be quick to get in that line. The Uglies usually sell out before closing time. One year while training for a half-marathon, Craig got up each morning, ran several miles from the family campsite to the Orange Blossom to pick up breakfast and ran back.
Craig’s daughter Brooke Crawford, who is now 29, eventually brought her sweetheart Brandon, now her husband, and finally her in-laws to Hatteras Island to share her childhood experience. When her in-laws rented a house about an hour away from Buxton in 2008, Brooke dragged them all into the car one morning, insisting that they still make it to the bakery. “They all agreed it was worth the trip, ” she says.

This past August, Crawford mailed Apple Uglies to her sister Robyn Gerstenslager, a United States Navy officer at sea aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.

Now, the Crawfords take their own children to the bakery each year. Five-month-old Graham didn’t eat anything during the family’s September visit, but his 4-year-old brother, Preston, did. Luckily, Crawford’s philosophy on Apple Uglies is: “The messier, the better!”

Patty Craig agrees. “It looks deformed, ” she says, laughing. “Kind of like a blob, but just delicious. You really have to go there and eat one.”

If you want one, be sure to stand in the Ugly line. It might just make your day prettier.

“When you drink a cup of coffee with one of those things, ” Pereira says, “it’s an incredible experience.”

Orange Blossom Bakery and Cafe
47206 N.C. Highway 12
Buxton, N.C. 27920
(252) 995-4109
Hours: Daily, 6:30 a.m.-11 a.m.

Hannah Mitchell was an intern at Our State magazine during summer 2011.

Apple Uglies

Ingredients List

1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/2 cup warm evaporated milk (110 degrees)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon mace or nutmeg
1 cup chopped apple pie filling
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons water
Preparation Instructions

Whisk the yeast into the warm water. In an electric mixer, cream the sugar and shortening. Add the egg, vanilla, milk and yeast. Mix together the flour, salt, and mace and stir into the liquid ingredients. Beat for 8 minutes (or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface). Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until double. Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured board. Roll into a sheet about 1/2 inch thick. Spread apple filling evenly over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon. Using a dough scraper, chop the dough into pieces vertically and then horizonally. Using 1/2 cup of chopped dough at a time, mold inte oblong, irregular shapes and place 2 inghes apart on a large baking pan. Cover with another pan, leaving room for dough to rise. Let rise intil double in volume. In a deep skillet heat vegetable shortening to 375 degrees. Dip a metal pancake turner into the hot fat, carefully slide it under the risen dough and place uglies into the skillet a few at a time (do not crowd). Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes until golden brown underneath, turn, and continue cookin for 1 1/2 minutes. Using tongs place cooked uglies on a metal rack to drain. Drizzle with icing.
4 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons water
Mix together.
Recipe Background

From Henry and Michal Schliff’s cookbook “Meet me at the Orange Blossom” printed in 1997. It reads:
The apple ugly is thus to the Orange Blossom as salt air is to the ocean. Though the following recipe which Henry has created for home use does not exactly duplicate the apple ugly at The Orange Blossom, it will give you when you are hundreds of miles away, a taste of Hatteras.
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