F is for Funnel Cakes . . . .

Okay, so in a previous post I wrote about choux pastry and éclairs. Another way to use choux pastry (and there are many, many uses for choux pastry . . .) is to make Funnel Cakes.

Funnel cake is typically a street food enjoyed at carnivals, state fairs and sporting events, predominantly in the United States. We just don’t have as many carnivals and such here in Canada . . besides, we are pretty loyal to the mini doughnuts.

The origin of funnel cakes is unclear, though they are commonly associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch. Many countries have various adaptations of this treat including Austria (strauben), Finland (tippaleipä), India (jalebi), Iran (zulbia) and Slovenia (flancati). Isn’t it cool how different cultures can have such similar dishes? Smart minds I tell you . . . smart minds.

Funnel cake gets its name from using a (you guessed it) funnel. The batter is poured through the funnel into the hot cooking oil, overlapping in a circular pattern. The dough is then fried until golden brown, removed from the deep fryer and served warm. Usually topping suspects include confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, jam, Nutella, fresh fruit compote, or a big mess of chocolate sauce and whipping cream.

Funnel cakes can range in size, and usually are between 6” to 9” in diameter. It’s really up to you how big or small you want to make them. But be aware: a 9” funnel cake WITHOUT toppings contains about 675 calories. This means you would only be able to eat 3 of these 9” pieces of fried dough goodness before maxing out on your daily calorie intake.

Funnel Cakes (makes 10, about 6 inches each)
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
4 oz. butter
1 cup flour
5 eggs
2 tsp. granulated sugar
pinch of salt

In a large saucepan, boil milk, water, butter, sugar and salt together. Remove from heat. Add flour and mix in until all the flour is incorporated and the dough forms a ball.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl and allow to stand about 3 minutes to cool slightly. Add eggs one at a time and beating after each addition, making sure each egg is completely incorporated into the dough before adding the next one. Continue beating until smooth.

Fit a pastry bag with a #12 round or a similar sized star shaped tip (I like the start shape, as it makes the dough look pretty). If you don’t want to use a pastry bag and want to go with the traditional funnel method, you can still get the pretty shape by inserting the start tip into the bottom of the funnel. Just be sure the tip extends past the opening of the funnel, and that it won’t fall out the bottom and into your oil. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a heavy pan. While the oil is heating, fill the pastry bag. Once the oil is hot, Pipe the dough into the oil, in overlapping rings and coils to form a sort of nest shape. Or, you can zig-zag back and forth in a free-form lattice shape. Really, just have fun with it . . .it’s gonna taste the same regardless of shape. You will most likely have to fry the dough in batches, so have a small plate handy to rest your pastry bag or funnel on between batches.

Allow the dough to cook until golden brown, flipping once. Remove cakes from frying oil and place on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. While still warm, dust with confectioner’s sugar or a mixture of cinnamon and granulated sugar. Repeat until all the dough has been fried. Serve warm.

I like to break mine into pieces and dip into a little side dish of Nutella. Okay, maybe not so little of a side dish.

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