This week was the Fond du Lac County Fair so on Saturday we headed over to see what the fair had to offer. Our fair may not be the biggest or the best county fair out there, but it does offer up a lot of fun, excitement, and for my 6-year-old daughter, a bit of an education as she got to watch a calf being born right before her eyes. The fair has all the staples; a midway full of rides and games of chance-you know the ones where you pay a couple of dollars for the chance to win a stuffed animal that costs a couple of cents, animal barns, animal judging, an exposition building filled with all sorts of demonstrations for home products, lots of music and entertainment, and of course food. What’s not to love about fair food. It’s greasy and sugary and in no way healthy for you at all, but man is it delicious!! Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay very long so we didn’t get a chance to sample all that I wanted to, but we did get in a few things. This being Wisconsin, you’d be hard pressed to find a fair that doesn’t include cream puffs and I think the ones at the made and sold by the local 4-H’ers are an exceptional example.
We also grabbed a couple of huge cups of lemonade. It was the typical fair variety with too much sugar and not enough lemon juice. It may not be the best, but on a hot day, out at the fair it tastes pretty darn good. We also had a chance to grab a big plate of Ribbon Fries, drizzled with a little cheese sauce and sour cream.
My wife and daughter wanted to grab a funnel cake before we left, but I had plans to make our own the following morning so I convinced them to hold off.
Funnel cakes are relatively easy to make and a lot of fun to do. My daughter wanted to help, but due to the large pan of hot oil I thought it best that the adults do the cooking. While disappointed at first, her disappointment quickly turned to joy as she received the first piping hot funnel cake to emerge from the hot oil. Soon after that her mouth was too full to complain.
Before I get to the recipe, I just wanted to share one little trick. This recipe requires a “deep_frying” set up with the oil at about 375°F. Of course, the best way to know if your oil is at 375°F is to use a thermometer, but all is not lost if you don’t have one. Instead, drop a cube of bread into the hot oil. If it barely bubbles, wait a few minutes longer and drop another piece of bread into the oil. If it bubbles rapidly leave it in and watch to see how long it takes to brown around the edges. It should take approximately 20 seconds. If it browns more quickly than that your oil is too hot and if it takes longer your oil needs to be hotter. This is only an approximation, but I’ve used this trick for years with great results.
makes 5-6 cakes
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup Milk
1 cup Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tb. Sugar, granulated
1/4 tsp. Salt
Various other toppings (see below)
Place powdered sugar in a shaker. Mix together the egg and milk in one bowl, while combining the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar and salt in another.
Meanwhile, in a medium sized sauté pan heat about 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil to 375°F. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until no lumps remain. Find a funnel with approximately a 1/2 inch wide spout. Cover the spout with your finger and pour 1/3 cup of batter into the funnel.
Position the funnel over the hot oil and remove your finger from the hole. Pour the batter into the hot oil making a mixture of swirls and zig-zags, pouring the batter over itself. The tighter you make your movements the more stable your finished caked will be. If you try and fill the whole sauté pan you will end up lots of little strings of batter and not a “cake” that holds together.
Allow to fry for 2-3 minutes.
Then carefully flip the cake to cook the other side. After another 2-3 minutes lift the cake out of the oil and allow to drain on paper towel. After about 1 minute, while the cake is still hot sprinkle with copious amounts of powdered sugar and serve to your waiting guests.
While powdered sugar should always top your funnel cake, in my opinion, there are plenty of other toppings you can add also, such as fresh berries, fresh peaches, jams and/or preserves, ice cream, chocolate sauce or any other item that strikes your fancy!