Our family has a little tradition of making funnel cakes on the 4th of July. I have made lots of different batters and my favorite is one made with yeast. You have to plan ahead, but honestly, I am not the type of cook to break out the dutch oven and deep fry something last minute.
There are a few things you need to know for the best funnel cakes.
-Pick an oil with a high smoke point. I like peanut and sunflower oil the best.
-Use a thermometer and get the oil hot. I have a candy thermometer that clips on the side of my dutch oven. You want the oil to be 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is cooler you will end up with greasy funnel cakes because the dough will not crust over quickly and more oil will be absorbed.
-The batter will drop the temperature of the oil. Be sure to let it come back up to 180 before cooking the next funnel cake.
-You can reuse the oil. Let the oil cool down and then place a coffee filter over a fine mesh strainer. Pour the cooled oil through the coffee filter into a jar and then refrigerate up to 2 months. The oil can be used 2-3 times before it breaks down.
-Use a slotted spoon to flip the funnel cakes and remove them from the oil. I find that a slotted spoon is the best tool. Tongs tend to break the funnel cakes and a spider strainer is the wrong shape for the task.
-I like my funnel cakes drenched in powdered sugar, but there are lots of toppings you could use including cherry pie filling, chocolate syrup, or caramel sauce.
2 Cups Flour (I use white whole wheat.)
1 3/4 Cup Milk (Whole milk, skim milk, and almond milk all work well.)
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (Click here for my homemade vanilla recipe.)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 Quart oil for frying (I like peanut or sunflower.)
Powdered Sugar or other toppings
8 hours before frying or up to 1 day ahead mix the batter. In a large bowl add flour, milk, egg, sugar, sea salt, vanilla and yeast. Mix well with a whisk to combine. You do not need to mix out all the lumps. Make sure the bowl is large enough to have room above the batter for the dough to rise in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to fry, place the oil in a large dutch oven or electric fryer and heat to 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oil heats, remove the batter from the refrigerator and mix to combine. (It will be slightly separated when it comes out of the refrigerator.) Pour the batter into a gallon zip top bag and seal. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag.
When the oil is 180-185 degrees, gently squeeze about 1/2- 3/4 cup of the batter into the oil. I like to make a circle first and then zig zag the stream of batter across the circle to make the funnel cake shape.
Cook the funnel cake for 30-45 seconds and then gently flip with a slotted spoon and cook another 30-45 seconds. Gently remove the golden funnel cake to a wire rack. Shake powdered sugar all over the top and serve immediately, or top with your favorite toppings.
Let the oil come back up to 180-185 degrees before starting the next funnel cake. This will make 4-6 cakes depending on how big you make them.
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