Homemade Funnel Cake | Recipe from Lauren Morrill’s “Better Than the Best Plan”
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Homemade Funnel Cake | Recipe from Lauren Morrill’s “Better Than the Best Plan”

Yes, I think deep frying at home is generally
a bad idea. See: this burn. But I do sometimes make funnel cake at home for three reasons.
One: Lauren loves it. Two: Unless the fair is in town, I can’t buy it anywhere. And
three: You can do this in a pretty small pan of oil. The batter is just pancake batter with extra
sugar. I melt a tablespoon of butter in a one-quart
jug. A third of a cup of sugar goes in, and then
one egg, and beat it up. If your butter got really hot in the microwave, the sugar will
keep it from curdling the egg. Then about a cup of milk goes in. I’m just looking
for one-and-a-half cups total in there. A splash of vanilla, half a teaspoon of salt,
two teaspoons of baking powder and we’ll start with a cup of flour. Some people put
in cinnamon; you could do that. I’m just stirring it up with a fork, and like with
pancakes, you want to be careful to not over-mix. Just bring it together. Over-mixing makes
the texture tough. Now I’m gonna add more flour until I get
the same texture that I like for pancakes, which is liquidous but thick. There, I think
that’s what you’re looking for. That was a cup and a half of flour. Just like with
pancakes, a few lumps are OK. They will cook out, but you want to be careful about getting
any big lumps — like that one. Big lumps could clog the funnel. That needs a little
more stirring. Now, like most batters for frying, the texture
really will be better if you just let it sit for a while before you use it. So, I mix this
up, and then I start heating up my oil Absolutely, frying works better in a giant
dutch oven full of oil, but I don’t want to waste all that or clean it up, so I’m
just gonna take my 10-inch skillet and give it maybe 3/4 an inch of vegetable oil. Heat
control will be a challenge, but we’ll make it work. Heat goes on high. While you’re waiting, get a draining rig
ready to go. I’d recommend a plate with a couple paper towels for each funnel cake
that you’re planning to make. This recipe will make at least four. You want to have
those ready to go. You also need to get your funnel ready to
go. Yeah, I think you really do need a funnel to make funnel cake. I’ve tried other things,
but nothing else delivers the unbroken, steady and wide stream you need. Clearly got this
one at the auto parts store; only place we could find one. Oh, the other thing that does work is one
of these gravy separators-slash-pancake-batter-dispensers that has a spring-loaded valve on the bottom.
That’s even better. Gonna get Lauren to help at this stage, because
this is tricky. You pour some batter into the funnel, covering the opening with your
finger, and you wait for the oil to get hot enough. 375 F is the magic temperature for batter
frying. But with this amount of oil, you gotta overshoot the mark, because the temperature
will drop as soon as you put in the batter. You just take your finger off the opening
and whoaaa, we could immediately tell that was not gonna work. Oil was too hot, a flour
lump stopped up the funnel so we didn’t get an unbroken stream. That’s fine. Because
with batter frying, the first one usually isn’t very good anyway. I just think of
it as a sacrifice to the kitchen gods. Used oil fries better, and now we’ve got
the heat right where we want it, like 390. That’ll drop right to 375 when the batter
goes in. You just spin it around in a tight circle over the middle of the pan. It will
naturally spread outward. We’ll show you that again, in slow motion this time. She’s good at that. Look at how the temperature
dropped. I’m constantly turning the burner up and down to hold this oil at 375. It’s
tricky, but luckily this over quickly. 30 seconds after it went in, and you can see
the bottom is just golden. Any darker than this will taste burned. Give it another 30
seconds. That’s it. You will think these are undercooked, because they’re so floppy
as you lift them out. They’re not crispy, not yet, but let it cool on the paper towel
for like another 30 seconds, and it stiffens right up. See? Now, here is how to dust on powdered sugar
if you don’t have one of those shaker thingies. A pinch of sugar goes in a sieve, and then
you just tap the sieve. There you go. Funnel cake. Crispy on the outside,
fluffy on the inside. Though that was apparently not nearly enough powdered sugar for Lauren. “That’s what you should look like when
you’re eating a funnel cake.” Like I said, this is one of Lauren’s favorite
desserts, and it plays a big role in her fifth YA novel, which comes out today. A characteristically
zany romantic romp called “Better Than the Best Plan.” “My characters are escaping a particularly
bad day, and they end up at a parking lot carnival. And they eat funnel cakes, because
probably when I was writing that scene I really wanted a funnel cake.” You obviously have no choice but to get yourself
a copy of “Better Than the Best Plan,” by Lauren Morrill, which hits stores today.
There’s an Amazon link the description, it’s at Barnes & Noble or your local independent
bookseller. Speaking of which, we’ll both be at Little Shop of Stories just outside
Atlanta on Saturday, June 29th for Lauren’s launch party. If you’re in the American
southeast, come and say hi. It all starts at 5 p.m. and Lauren will be interviewed by
our friend Jackson Pearce, another great YA author, who also took these videos of the
store. That’s Little Shop of Stories, Decatur,
Georgia, this Saturday at 5. Bring your funnel cakes. Or don’t. They’re greasy. You don’t
want to get grease on your new book, do you?

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