Recently at the grocery store, I asked my oldest son what kind of snacks he might want, and his answer was “funnel cakes like at the ball park.”
Sigh. I was expecting an answer like “tortilla chips” or “Nutter Butter cookies” or something more normal like that.
But in typical overachiever fashion, I said, “Okay!” I then whipped out my handy-dandy iPhone and surfed for a basic recipe so I could gauge what ingredients I might need to pick up while at the store. Looked like all I needed was some vegetable oil (since I had just enough to fry up the cakes.)
Let’s start with the “hardware”, as Alton Brown would say: my trusting cast-iron skillet and a bottle of Crisco oil. Pardon the schmutz in the skillet, it’s burnt kalbi marinade from when the grill ran out of propane in the middle of cooking and I had to break out the skillet. Like I said, trusting!
Instead of a traditional funnel, I figured I’d have some fun with a decorator piping bag fitted with my wide tube metal tip:
Then I put together the batter, which was so easy, you guys don’t even need step-by-step photos. Just combine everything and mix well, like a pancake batter:
While you were making the batter, you should have filled the skillet about halfway with oil and began to heat it at medium heat (at least, that’s what I do with my electric range). Use a test droplet of batter in the oil to gauge readiness — when the droplet of batter bubbles in an animated fashion, you’re ready. This should be about 370F or so, but I can’t find my candy thermometer to check absolutely, sorry.
Filling the piping bag is pretty tricky. You can also use a quart-or-larger sized zip-top bag with a corner cut out to do this. I used a cup and propped the piping bag in it, then filled the bag and QUICKLY moved it to the batter.
By squeezing the bag, I could control the flow a bit, better than with a funnel.
I didn’t use enough oil today…the funnel cake stuck to the bottom at first, and I used my cooking chopsticks (yes, I use cooking chopsticks thanks to my Tiger Mom’s influence) to nudge it off the bottom of the pan and let it float to the top.
Unfortunately, when I flipped the first funnel cake over after about 90 seconds, the golden-brown-deliciousness was marred by flakes of burnt kalbi-marinade. Oops.
So we’ll just pretend those flecks aren’t there from here on out:
Remove the funnel cake to a brown-paper bag or papertowels (I prefer the brown paper):
Dust with powdered sugar or Hershey’s syrup, and you’re all set:
Did I mention my oldest son has been the photographer for this blog post so far? Even he knows I like showing off the details! Here’s one of J. enjoying his snack:
So in conclusion, making funnel cakes is pretty easy, and you know what ingredients are going into the batter. I personally don’t care for frying foods in the house, but this time it didn’t seem to horrible. Monitor the frying closely and if you don’t overcook the cakes, it won’t be an oily mess — unlike what you probably get at the ball park or state fair.