How to Cook a Funnel Cake at Home

Funnel Cake with powdered sugar and strawberries on top

On the Santa Monica Pier you will find a cornucopia of tasty delights for the palate. From rich, artisanal ice creams and made-to-order burgers, to fresh-caught seafood from the surrounding waters of the Pacific, there’s a dish for every guest at the Pier. Perhaps the most iconic treat served on the Pier is the fresh, fried funnel cakes.

Although no one can pinpoint the first funnel cake ever fried, food historians suggest that the technique of pouring a liquid batter into hot oil to make a cake or bread can be traced back to the Middle East in early medieval times. A similar version of a fried dough cake was most likely brought to America by the Dutch in the late 1800s. The name “Funnel Cake” comes from the technique of pouring the batter through a funnel into the hot oil. This technique gives the cake its signature texture.

Funnel cakes are typically served with a dusting of powdered sugar. At Pacific Park they are served at Funnel Cakes and Scoops Ice Cream and Treats and can be topped with strawberries, whipped cream, and even a scoop of your favorite Lappert’s Ice Cream.

Alas, how can one enjoy a tasty fried funnel cake at any time of day or night in the convenience of their own home? With some basic kitchen supplies and just a few staple ingredients, you can cook a delicious funnel cake right on your stove top!

Music: Seeburg Industrial; funnel cake photo by @imhungrymeow

Funnel Cake Recipe

You will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Powdered sugar & fresh cut strawberries for topping

Directions:

  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla extract
  3. While whisking the wet ingredients, gradually add in the dry ingredients
  4. Continue stirring until mixture is smooth and there are no lumps
  5. Heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in heavy pot or Dutch oven; use a candy thermometer to bring oil to 370-375F (187-190C)
  6. Slowly drizzle a thin stream of the batter into the hot oil; crisscross your stream of batter to create a unique texture
  7. The batter will cook quickly. After frying for about 90 seconds, use kitchen tongs to carefully flip the cake in the oil
  8. Cook the second side until golden brown (about 90 seconds)
  9. Remove the cake from the oil and set on a baking rack to drain
  10. Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove any crumbs or small pieces of fried batter from the oil and let the oil return to 370-375F (187-190C) before cooking your next cake
  11. While the cakes are still warm, dust with powdered sugar and top with fresh strawberries to serve!

Funnel cakes are delicious and a fun treat that will certainly remind you of long walks over the Pier’s boardwalks looking out at the waves!

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