Authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake

  • Serves: Makes about 4 servings (depending on size of cakes made)
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Tami gave me her authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake Family Recipe that has been passed from her mother's side of the family (Pennsylvania Dutch descendants) to her. The batter is poured through a funnel in a circular fashion into hot cooking oil and fried until golden brown. They are often served with powdered sugar, jam, or other toppings. Powdered sugar is the traditional topping, although an old Dutch one is molasses. Cinnamon sugar is popping up at some festivals, but it is not traditional, and I have never heard of any fruit toppings served with funnel cakes. They are usually served with fried dough, etc.


The trick to nice cakes is a batter that is thick enough to pour nicely, but not so thick that it globs out of the funnel. I have seen festival cake people using a large pitcher that has a spout "funnel" on the end, making the task less messy and easier to do in bulk. Also, most do not put more that one cake in each pan, the usual funnel cake for festivals is the size of the paper plate it is served on. They usually have 4 to 6, 10-inch cast iron skillets going on the stove at all times, and one cake is made in each skillet. The best funnel cake stands ALWAYS have long lines because they are worth the wait to fry fresh and to burn your fingers as you rip off pieces and pop them in your mouth before the sugar melts too much.

1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cup whole or 2& milk
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar
shortening or vegetable oil for frying; Note: Cottonseed, sunflower, and grapeseed oil are particularly good oils for frying because they withstand high temperatures without breaking down. (An oil that's broken down becomes foamy and develops an acrid and bitter smell.) Use enough oil, between 2 and 3 inches, so that the fritters float freely.  

1. Heat 2 to 3-inches of oil or shortening to 375 degrees F in a deep electric, heavy bottomed or cast iron skillet, Dutch oven or flat-bottomed wok. Measure temperature with a deep frying or candy thermometer.

2. Beat the milk with the egg. Blend the dry ingredients and gradually add the milk/egg mixture, beating constantly with a spoon until the mixture is smooth.

3. Hold funnel closed with your finger over the hole and fill with batter.

Carefully hold over hot fat (375-degrees) (shortening is the traditional frying fat, but other oils work well) and move your finger to drop batter into the fat, use a circular motion from the center to the outside, swirling around.

Immediately replace your finger on the funnel hole and move to create another cake. Do not crowd in the fat.

4. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes, turning once using tongs. Cook 1 minute more on the other side until golden.

5. Remove with a slotted spoon and "dab" on paper towels.

6. Repeat the process until all of the batter is used up.

Cool slightly and sprinkle powdered sugar over the top. Serve immediately.

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