Funnel Cake

 

Funnel cakes are giant lacey cousins of the doughnut or beignet. A part of the Amish-Mennonite culture, they probably first appeared in Pennsylvania Dutch country. This is heavy food, fried dough that would suit a culture doing heavy manual labor.

Funnel Cake

To make them, a rather liquid batter is traditionally placed in a funnel, with the cook’s finger over the hole and allowed to drizzle into hot fat in a cast iron skillet or pot in overlapping circles and swirls. Nearly any outdoor festival or fair now will feature one or more booths selling them. Usually, these are huge, the size of an entire full-sized paper plate and served topped with confectioner’s sugar. Sometimes fruit toppings are also offered.

Recipes vary but most are basically milk, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs and flavoring, usually vanilla, and the oil needed to fry them and the confectioner’s sugar for the garnish.

Mixes are also sold that require adding only water or milk, and may come in a plastic bottle with a narrow tip, which is less messy than the conventional method and easier to control. Sometimes a pitcher is used to pour the batter into the fat.

They taste the best when eaten freshly fried and warm. Nutritionally, they are heavy on fat and calories, but lacking in many nutrients and low in fiber. Obviously they are more a special treat food rather than one that would be eaten daily. But if you have a craving, you need not wait for the next festival, because they are fairly easy to make at home.

 

 

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