The Funnel Cake is a fun, festival treat and the epitome of carnival dishes. It’s a feel-good summer treat originating from the Pennsylvanian Dutch in America (although its exact origin are still contested) and it retains its popularity within their traditional Kutztown Folk Festivals. The origin of Funnel Cake dates back to Mediaeval times resembling the fritter cakes of the period as they involved the similar process of pouring batter through a small hole at the bottom of a bowl.
This dreamy dessert also had a French influence. Anglo-Norman recipes used the phrase “mis en bec” meaning “put in spout” which is the distinctive element of the Funnel Cake’s construction. The creation of this usual cake dish is rather unusual as the mixture is poured, as the name suggests, through a funnel. This makes the Funnel Cake more of a doughnut than a traditional cake. During the 19th century, Funnel Cakes were sold as a novelty during Christmas and New Year, mostly at church fairs and holiday markets. It’s described by San Jose’s foodie, Joey Chestnut, as “similar to waffles, just greasier” – the perfect fried fairground food.
Recipe for Funnel Cake
2 cups milk
32⁄3 cups flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
vegetable oil, for frying
- Beat eggs and sugar together in a large bowl
- Add the milk slowly and beat.
- Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy.
- Pour batter into a funnel using your finger to plug the hole.
- In a large cast iron pot, add 2 inches of oil.
- When the oil is hot, move your hand over the pot and slowly release your finger so the batter drops into the oil.
- Move the funnel around over the oil to make designs.
- Brown on both sides.
- Remove and drain well on kitchen paper.
- Top with brown sugar, honey, cinnamon sugar or icing sugar.
Made from traditional baking ingredients, the flour, milk and eggs are mixed and then poured through a funnel hole and deep fried to create a wacky shape. Additional ingredients such as cinnamon and vanilla extract can be included to give it that extra special something. A range of finishing touches also give us a real insight to the extent of popularity and diversity of this dessert: in Australia a firm favourite is plum jam, but Mexicans find the best combination to come from a topping of apples and cinnamon – this dessert it really is diamond in the rough.
So, if you’re looking for a new summer project, what about this for something different. In the true American fashion, professional eaters Joey Chestnut and Pat Bertoletti in Doswell VA, attempted to consume vast amounts of the dessert in order to achieve a world record. In achieving their goal they had eaten 5.9 pounds of the cake in just 10 minutes, with Chestnut taking the ultimate win by demolishing an additional 1.45 pounds! Anyone else up for the challenge?