Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Funnel Cake

Deciding to be adventurous, last night we made our own funnel cake. It was actually much easier than I imagined.

Once the batter is made, the most difficult part is getting the oil to the right temperature. If you don't have a thermometer (I would guess a meat thermometer would work well), you basically have two options to test the temperature:
1) flick a bit of water into the oil and when it really pops and sizzles excessively, it's hot enough
2) drop a bit of the batter into the oil and watch if it sizzles and browns appropriately

Another tricky thing is getting it to the right browning. The funnel cake can be fairly light in color and still be cooked well, it just depends on how crispy you want it. If it is lighter, it will be softer and maybe mushier in the middle, but when its a darker, like brown color, it is pretty crispy throughout. The recipe I used was more than enough, so you have enough batter to play around until you get it just right.

Otherwise, this recipe is largely very easy and fun. It's great because the ingredients and tools you need are things you normally have lying around anyway. The fun part is making any shapes that you want. The above is my sting ray. We also experimented with letters (like S), turtles, and other shapes. For toppings, we just used powdered sugar. I want to make it another time, maybe with a bigger group of people, and have a bowls of toppings available like homemade fruit compote, whipped cream, fresh fruit, melted nutella, and soft ice cream. Anyway, before I start drooling...

Funnel Cake
makes about 5 palm-sized cakes

1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 tablespoon sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup flour
2 whole eggs and 1 egg white

vegetable oil, for frying

Boil water, butter, sugar, and salt together in a saucepan. Once that is boiling, add flour and work it in until it is all incorporated and dough forms a ball.

Transfer mixture to the bowl and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes. With a stand mixer or hand mixer on its lowest speed, add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all eggs have been added and mixture is smooth, put dough in a ziplock bag.

Fill a frying pan with about 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil. It can be more or less oil, depending on how big you plant to make your cakes. When they are smaller, you can get away with a little less, but for the big fair-like sizes, you will want to be generous. When the oil is hot enough (see above for methods), cut a hole in a corner of the ziplock bag and pipe dough into oil, making a free-form lattice pattern.

When the sides appear cooked or browned, flip once. Remove cake from oil, drain on paper towels, and top with powdered sugar or other toppings. Continue until all of the batter is used.

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