Early summer is fried dough season; in Calgary, the Stampede is here, and there are fairs and festivals everywhere offering up all manner of deep fried things and food on a stick. On the midway, I’ve always been semi-oblivious to funnel cakes, but have recently discovered how amazing they can be when you make them yourself. Which is a perfectly reasonable alternative to paying $7 for 7 cents’ worth of fried dough.
I mean, look at these. How could you not love a funnel cake? And they’re faster and easier to make than a batch of doughnuts.
Funnel cakes are made out of essentially pancake batter, run through a funnel (easier than it sounds!) into hot oil, making squiggles and blobs – it’s all crispy bits, really. And although the classic way to serve them is warm, doused in icing sugar, I’ve discovered they make a fine sundae, and judging the best food on the midway last night, the winner in the savoury category was funnel cake poutine – a funnel cake sprinkled with icing sugar, topped with cheese curds and gravy.
When you think of it, a funnel cake has the potential to be the vehicle for all kinds of things, sweet, savoury and saucy. I’m already pondering butter chicken. Maybe a pinch of curry in the batter? Which, by the way, has to be the right consistency – which is not at all as complicated as it sounds. Just make sure it’s smooth and pourable – like crepe batter – and will run through a funnel without being TOO runny. You’ll get the hang of it. And any mistakes are cheap (and worth the learning experience). Look at those crispy bits!
This seems like something you might make with kids, but I’d advise making them for them, not with them-the method is easy once you get the hang of it, but you do have to hold the funnel over the hot oil. I’d suggest having them sit at the kitchen table and be the happy recipients of warm funnel cakes, and in charge of sprinkling them with sugar.
And if you’re looking for some fun, inexpensive, sweet but not overly processed party food, this is it. Midway food for the win!