If we had to name the ultimate Fair Food, hands down it would have to be funnel cakes. The sweet smell of fluffy, frying bread in combination with powdered sugar is enough to make even the strongest go weak in the knees.
Well, lucky for you, they aren't difficult to make and are perfect for a party or just a weeknight snack.
Not wanting to disappoint anyone's favorite childhood (or adult!) memories, we really wanted to bring you a recipe that the home cook could whip out of their arsenal any time they wanted a little fun in their kitchen.
The ingredients are minimal and are all pantry staples, so making funnel cakes is highly affordable and relatively painless, even though it involves frying.
But, as we quickly learned, there are two schools of thought when it comes to making funnel cakes.
The different schools of thought deal with egg content and the application of heat to the batter. Some recipes wanted to increase the egg and precook some ingredients making a Pâte à Choux, while others wanted us to combine our sugars and milk over heat before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Then there a large handful of recipes that made the consistency of a weak pancake batter that seemed to be the exact opposite end of the spectrum. From a tight, heated batter, to a thin pancake batter that didn't look like it packed any punch.
So we made our own and combined the best of all different methods. We eliminated the heat, because that seemed to defeat the point of making something quickly, and we thickened things up while still keeping it light once fried. We took a picture of the batter consistency above, if you can forgive our grubby little finger in the photo! It's thick and thin at the same time, able to drop off your finger, but having enough cling to make long tendrils when lifted from the bowl.
The final result was finger-licking good and made for a great time with friends outside on the deck on a hot summer night.
makes 4, 12" cakes
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cups milk
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
5 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
Powdered Sugar for dusting
Heat oil in an electric deep fryer or cast iron pan to 375°F. You will need at least an inch and a half of oil. We chose to use the electric fryer, which recycles its heat quicker and kept the fried foods smell and heat out of the house! Line plates with paper towels, the process will go fast once you start!
Mix egg and milk together with a wire whisk or fork until combined. Stir in other ingredients until batter is smooth.
Fry Tip: If you will be frying more than 4 funnel cakes or if you wish to make the batter up to an hour in advance, increase the amount of baking powder by 1 teaspoon to help give it lift during its long wait before frying.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and squeeze batter in a random, yet overlapping pattern. (It's all mainly a haphazard process, but crossing the batter back over itself will help it stick together when it's time to flip.) Once it's floating and golden brown (usually 60 seconds in), flip using tongs, allowing the other side to cook.
Continue cooking until desired color is achieved and remove from grease and set on a paper towel lined plate. Apply powdered sugar liberally to the top, add fruit toppings if desired and enjoy!
Note: You can use an actual funnel for this process, or even a zip top bag with one corner snipped off. Just as long as the better is able to get into the oil quickly and efficiently, that's all that really matters.
(Images: Jenni Brown)