Thursday, July 21, 2016

Funnel Cake

Every year in the field near my office, the town hosts a carnival. It makes me nostalgic for the town carnival I used to visit as a kid. My mom would give me $10 to spend, which would only give me enough tickets to go on maybe three rides and then the leftover would be spent on either kettle corn or funnel cake, depending on my mood. Funnel cake usually won out, since it was the less accessible option; popcorn is the more readily available snack, right?

These days, I'm not as keen on visiting carnivals - waiting on a 30-minute queue for a 30-second ride just doesn't have the same charm. But, that doesn't mean I can't still enjoy a good funnel cake. But, I avoid the crowds and the kids and indulge at home instead.

There are lots of recipes out there for funnel cakes made with a pancake-like batter but I'm an advocate for pate a choux batter. It yields really light and crisp swirls of cake that puff up beautifully. Plus, the batter keeps really well in the fridge so you can address your cravings after dinner for an entire week; if you're as gluttonous as I am, this aspect is probably the winning trait.
Ingredients [yields 6 to 8 small funnel cakes]:
½ stick butter (¼ cup)
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup flour
2 eggs
oil for frying
+ powdered sugar

The batter starts by heating up butter and milk in a pot with the sugar and salt. Heat over low until the milk is scalding.
Add the flour to the almost-boiling liquid and stir with a spatula until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the flour. Continue to cook over a low heat to evaporate out the excess moisture. You'll know it's ready when it all clumps together into one big dough ball.
Leave the dough to cool for a few minutes.
Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer or even good old-fashioned elbow grease, whisk in two eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated and a thick, sticky batter forms.
Scoop the batter into a piping bag (or just a simple zip-top baggie).
Heat between 1" to 2" of oil in a pan to 350F. I used the leftover oil from a chicken wing frying session. Swirl in the batter into 6" diameter cakes - or you could make the cakes tiny or huge depending on your hunger level.
Fry the cakes on the first side for 2 to 3 minutes until golden and then flip and fry for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until the second side is equally golden.
Drain the cakes on a wire rack before serving.
Dust the cakes liberally with powdered sugar and then dive in!
Like I said, these cakes are super light and crisp, thanks to this miraculous batter that puffs up like crazy when introduced to a heat source. One of the best parts of funnel cake is the shape. I love ripping off bits and doing my best to get enough sugar in each bite.
Here's the recipe page:

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