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History of Funnel Cakes
The fall season at Cherry Crest brings a lot of fun fall foods, including a county fair favorite—funnel cakes! Many people find the fried dough and powdered sugar combination to be absolutely irresistible. Read on to find out a little bit more about the history of these tasty treats!
Who made the first funnel cake?
No one know exactly who made the first funnel cake. Some similar-sounding recipes have been discovered that date back to the Middle Ages. Medieval cookbooks show recipes for mincebek, which is believed to come from the French phrase “mis en bec” meaning “put in spout” (likely referring to the way funnel cakes are made). These early funnel cakes were made by frying a sourdough batter, and served with a sugar syrup and sprinkled with salt.
The modern idea of the funnel cake is widely accepted to be Pennsylvania Dutch in origin. In 1950, the first Kutztown Folk Festival was held, started by a group of Franklin & Marshall College professors who wanted to promote knowledge and interest in Pennsylvania Dutch culture. In the back of a concession stand, four ladies fried funnel cakes four at a time, and sold them to hungry customers for 25 cents each! They sold several thousand of the wildly popular treat, and from that point on, they were known as a “PA Dutch” specialty.
How are funnel cakes made?
Funnel cakes are essentially fried cake batter, made by pouring the batter into a hot oil fryer. The dough is fried until it is light brown and just slightly crispy (but not crunchy). Then it is removed from the fryer and sprinkled with powdered sugar and served immediately. The batter recipes vary, but generally consist of flour, eggs, milk, baking powder, and salt.
Why are they called funnel cakes?
As the name suggests, funnel cakes were originally made by pouring the batter through a funnel and into the hot oil. This helped to control the amount of batter that was released into the fryer at any given time. Today, many funnel cake stands (including the one at Cherry Crest) use a pitcher with a funnel-like spout, so the batter can be poured into the fryer with only one hand!
What all can you eat on top of a funnel cake?
Traditionally, funnel cakes were topped with powdered sugar. Most places still have this as their primary seller, but also offer other topping options, such as cinnamon sugar, chocolate chips, Nutella, peanut butter, fresh fruit, jellies, and more. The possibilities are endless!
Do other countries have funnel cakes?
Many other countries have deserts that are very similar to funnel cakes. In Germany, they serve a dish called Strauben, which is essentially the same thing as a funnel cake. The Slovenian equivalent is called flancati, while the Finnish serve a dish called tippaleip?. In India, a similar dessert is called jalebi, and is a bit more chewy with a crystallized sugary outer coating. A popular Spanish sweet treat is called a churro—similar to funnel cakes, it is often served with breakfast!
Did you know?
In 2009, two professional eaters vied for the world record in “most funnel cakes eaten.” Joey Chestnut and Patrick Bertoletti both consumed 5.9 pounds of funnel cake in 10 minutes. Because of the tie, they had to face each other in a two minute “eat-off” to determine who was the actual winner. Chestnut ate almost 1.5 more pounds of funnel cake to be crowned the winner. He estimated that he ate 16 funnel cakes totaling more than 14,000 calories in the original 10-minute competition.