Funnel Cakes, Elephant Ears, and cotton candy are popular fare at carnivals in the U.S. The sight and the smell of these foods drifting through the air seems to add to the fun. Always, though, a little debate goes on inside my head before ordering at carnival food booths...
Do you want to get sick?
These foods aren't prepared under the most sanitary conditions.
Okay.. just so you know.. you might get food poisoning.
Funnel Cakes, however, are easy to make at home. For me, it's nerve-racking to invite people over who don't know each other, this recipe is well-suited for a group to make together, which is fun, and serves as an icebreaker.
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups milk
Vegetable shortening (the melted vegetable shortening should fill the skillet to a depth of about one inch)
Powdered (confectioners) sugar
Napkins (gobs -- these cakes are messy)
In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In another mixing bowl, add eggs and vanilla; beat till fluffy.
Gradually beat the granulated sugar into the egg mixture.
Gradually mix milk into the egg mixture.
Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture; mix thoroughly.
In a 10-inch skillet, heat vegetable shortening to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Placing a finger over the small opening of the funnel, ladel 1/2 cup of batter into funnel. Hold the funnel a few inches above the oil, then allow the batter to flow into the center of the skillet.
Okay, here's the tricky-sounding part: working from the center, outward, move the funnel in circles, so that the dough forms concentric circles in the skillet (this resembles an archery target [kind of], but the circles should overlap slightly). When the underside of the cake is light brown, turn over and cook the second side till light brown. Drain cakes on several thicknesses of paper toweling. "Sprinkle" with copious amounts of powdered sugar; serve hot. Yield: 7-8 cakes.