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The History of Funnel Cakes



Caesar Cardini

Funnel Cakes

The history of Funnel Cake history is debatable. Popular opinion is that the treat was popularized by German immigrants in the state of Pennsylvania who served the treat during harvest festivals and holidays. The name comes from the way the dish is prepared, which is pouring batter through a funnel into hot oil. Some sources claim the treat is a descendant of the oliebol which are a dessert similar to donuts. The reality is many cultures have variations of the funnel cake, such as the Spanish who have a treat named Churros. One thing is for sure, today the dish is one of the most popular sweet treats in America. They are a staple of Amusement Parks, Sporting Events and wherever there are social gatherings or celebrations.

You know I am horrible at games like Wheel of Fortune and guessing but it
doesn't take a genius to figure out why these are called funnel cakes.

That's right the batter was poured through a funnel and into hot fat to make this wonderful dish.

Now they use more like a pitcher, and pour it into
a ring sitting on a stand so it keeps it cosistent looking.


There seems to be two distinct recipes for this dish, one is similar to a pancake batter and one is similar to a cream puff dough (Pate a Choux ) that is a very different batter indeed.


Pennsylvania Dutch Style Funnel Cakes

This style of funnel cakes are the ones that you see at the fairs. It is the most common one and easy to make.

This recipe comes from Pennsylvania Dutch roots, and has been around for quite a while.

The oldest recipe for a recipe titled "funnel cake"in an English language book is this:

This is from one of my favorite food history websites, Food history timeline

Funnel Cakes

"Mix 1 pint of sweet milk, 2 eggs well beaten, (yolks and whites together), enough flour to make a thin batter, 1/2 teaspoonful baking powder, 1/4 teaspoonful salt. Mix in a pan thoroughly. Place enough lard in a pan to cover the bottom. Let it get quite hot before cooking the batter. Now put the batter through a funnel into the hot lard, beginning at center of pan, and turning the stream around in a gradual enlarging circle, being careful not to touch the sides of the other dough. Fry a light brown and serve hot with any tart jelly."
--- Pennsylvania Dutch Cookery , J. George Frederick, reprint of 1935 edition [Favorite Recipes Press: Lousiville KY ] 1966 (p. 137)


Here is a modern day version

Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cakes

Makes about 4 servings (depending on size of cakes made)
The batter is poured through a funnel into hot cooking oil and fried.

1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar
shortening or vegetable oil for frying -

For the rest of the recipe go here



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Last updated August 30, 2010