Glazed Root Beer Funnel Cakes with Fresh Blueberries

Rootbeer Funnel Cakes via Sweetapolita

I think, no I’m certain, my first experience with Funnel Cake was at Canada’s Wonderland–a huge amusement park near Toronto that dominates pretty much all of my amusement park memories. I’ve been there more times than I can count as a younger girl, and it was likely the single most exciting expedition my friends and I would plan. But, most exciting to me was that we knew once we arrived, the funnel cakes were ours. Hot, sugary, old-fashioned-donut-tasting funnel cakes smothered in strawberries ’n sauce and whipped cream (no ice cream alongside cake for this girl, but some love it this way too, of course). I haven’t been there in years, but I recall they seemed, at the time, to be the biggest funnel cakes in history, almost too big to even fit on the large paper plate they served them on.

As you may suspect, I got through most of mine, and much more than my friends ever did, that’s for certain (I was known as a bit of a phenomenon on how much food I could consume), but it was even too much for me to finish. I actually recall standing beside the garbage can a-la-Miranda-on-Sex-and-the-City-and-the-chocolate-cake, and trying to throw the last few bites away, but just couldn’t — I would sneak just a few more. Was it because it was the most delicious carnival treat that has ever existed? Possibly. But, mostly, I knew that it would be likely a long, painful, empty year before I was going to taste another one. Tragic indeed.

Rootbeer Funnel Cakes via Sweetapolita

It wasn’t until many years later, in 2007, after my cousin Julie emailed me asking if I wanted to come over and make funnel cakes with her (um, okay!), that I realized you could easily make these at home. At the time I made these with Julie, I was really just along for the ride — she had it all figured out, and I just watched, really. I was amazed at how authentic they really tasted and looked, and how it easy it all was. Strangely, I have never attempted to make funnel cakes on my own, and I haven’t eaten one since that day . . . until earlier this week.

When I first searched for the recipe online, I found many very traditional versions including one that cloned my beloved Canada Wonderland’s funnel cake, but then I came across this fabulous twist on the traditional on Fine Cooking, by Judith Fertig. I’m so glad I found it, because it’s how it’s how I discovered Judith’s gorgeous book, Heartland: The Cookbook, from which this recipe is taken. Her book “melds contemporary cooking with an authentic and appreciative approach to the land, presenting 150 recipes for farm-bounty fare with a modern twist,” and, oh, this speaks to me. This type of baking just calls to me. For some reason, although I wasn’t raised in the country, but rather a mid-size city surrounded by gorgeous countryside and farms, I have always been so drawn to the history, the food, and the sense of family that surrounds country life. I’ve ordered this book, and I simply cannot wait to dig in.

Rootbeer Funnel Cakes via Sweetapolita

For this recipe, we use actual Root Beer in the batter and add a glaze made with Root Beer extract to really embrace the the flavour, but otherwise the result still holds onto tradition in its sweet and crispy, old-fashioned, carnival-worthy qualities. I have to admit that, typically, I tend to avoid making deep-fried treats for a few reasons, including the fact that, even though I will share baked goods with my cakelets, the thought of giving them deep-fried goodies makes me a bit uneasy. That being said, Funnel Cakes are in a realm of their own, and they are most definitely a delicious treat to bring out once a year, or so. I so enjoyed this Root Beer version, and I love tradition-with-a-twist. Simply put, these are incredibly simple to make, absolutely delicious and unique, and bring me right back to childhood. I topped them with the glaze, a handful of plump blueberries, and a generous sprinkling of icing sugar.

With the recent crispness in the air, it’s a perfect time for this warm, sweet, and hearty dessert. I can imagine wandering a small country fair in autumn, cozy in a knit sweater, and soaking up the sun and cool breeze on my cheeks. Wishing you and your family a wonderful autumn-is-in-the-air weekend!

Root Beer Funnel Cakes with Fresh Blueberries         {click to print}

*Root Beer Funnel Cake recipe by Judith Fertig from the book Heartland: The Cookbook

*I have added the weight measurements and a few tips at the bottom of the recipe.

For the Funnel Cakes

Vegetable oil, for frying

1-1/2 cups (188 grams/6.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt

3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) cream of tartar

2 tablespoons (30 grams/1 ounce) granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 cup (236 mL) root beer

For the Root Beer Glaze

1/2 cup (63 grams) confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) root beer extract (such as root beer flavor extract – 8 fl oz)

1 tablespoon (15 mL) half-and-half or whole milk

Fresh berries of your choice, for garnish

Make the funnel cakes:

In a large, deep skillet, pour in enough vegetable oil to reach 1 inch. Heat to 375°F over medium-high heat.Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk the egg and root beer together in a cup, then whisk this mixture into the dry ingredients until smooth.When the oil has reached the correct temperature, hold your finger over the bottom of a large kitchen funnel with a 1/2-inch diameter spout and pour ¾ cup batter into the funnel. Hold the funnel over the center of the skillet, remove your finger, and with a circular motion starting from a center point, let the batter create either a tight or freeform spiral in the hot oil. Fry until the funnel cake is light brown on one side, then carefully flip with a pancake turner and fry on the other side until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Let the oil come back to the correct temperature and repeat the process with the remaining batter.

Glaze the funnel cakes:

Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, root beer extract, and half-and-half together in a small bowl. Drizzle over each funnel cake, then dust with more confectioners’ sugar and garnish with fresh berries.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

1. I didn’t have a large kitchen funnel, so I used a large pastry bag and a 1/2″ piping tip. The batter is very runny, like pancake batter, so you have to act quickly. I placed the piping bag into tall glass very close to my pan, and folded the cuff of the bag over the rim of the glass. I measured 3/4 cup of batter, then poured it into the piping back, then quickly poured into the oil, in the same circular motion as described in recipe.

2. Since you are making one cake at a time, it’s definitely not ideal to make for more than just a few people.

3. I used a candy thermometer to ensure the temperature of 375°F.

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts: