I bet everyone’s having some really serious cravings right about now. The aisles at the grocery store for chips, candy, ice cream and cookies never saw it so good. I’ll tell you though, it’s the things I can’t get that I’m craving the most.
Like a Canada’s Wonderland funnel cake. That crispy, yet chewy, light-as-air funnel cake, covered in a dusting of powdered sugar, smothered in that sweet, sweet strawberry sauce and topped with a magical swirly mountain of soft-serve vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm....
When I bring the family to the park, a visit isn’t complete without getting one.
Well, our Executive Chef Dilup Attygalla just gave us a beautiful gift. He’s pared down the park recipe into one that can be used at home. So that WE CAN ALL MAKE IT. Yippee!
If you want to grab your apron and dive right in, scroll to bottom for the detailed recipe and instructions.
Otherwise, I’ll let you know how things turned out when I tried the recipe myself in the ‘test kitchen’. I’ve never attempted a funnel cake at home. I never fry anything, so the experience was a little eye opening and I’ll share the tips I discovered along the way.
The first thing you need to do is make the Strawberry Sauce. To be authentic, this requires frozen strawberries, water, strawberry jam, sugar, strawberry extract, red food colouring, modified corn starch (which comes like a clear gel) and strawberry glaze.
Chef says the glaze is optional, and the modified corn starch can be replaced with regular corn starch if you only have that. If your kitchen is like mine and not stocked like an industrial bakery, you may not have some of these things. And since our trips to the grocery store are limited, you may not be able to go out to look for them either. I didn’t have strawberry extract, strawberry glaze or the gel corn starch. But let's be honest, strawberries, jam and sugar were going to taste amazing no matter what, so I made do.
I got all that heated up and mixed on the stove, as per the instructions, poured it over the frozen strawberries, mixed and let it cool and set in the fridge.
At this point I was feeling pretty confident. The sauce looked good, tasted amazing and was super easy to make. This was going to be a cinch!
Making the funnel cake batter seemed straight forward too. It required 2 eggs, 2% milk, water, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, a pinch of salt, oil for frying (I used vegetable oil) and icing sugar. Miracle of all miracles, I had all these ingredients.
I combined the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in the other. When adding them to each other, you need to do it slowly while continually mixing to avoid the flour getting all lumpy. I would pour a bit at a time, mixing in between until the liquid was smooth again.
Now it was time to start frying. I decided to use my large Dutch oven on the stovetop for this, since it’s got a nice thick bottom to it, and put enough oil in it so that it was about 3-4 inches deep.
Unfortunately I don’t have a thermometre for oil, so couldn’t check that it was exactly 375°F – but I followed Chef’s tip of testing the oil by dropping a small spoonful of batter in. He said if it rises to the surface quickly, it’s ready. Mine was ready!
This is where my troubles began. I used a juice pitcher to pour the batter in, and as soon as I did, the batter scattered across the oil's surface into tiny, separate little pieces. Nothing stuck together.
And hence began about 40 minutes of troubleshooting efforts.
I tried a different vessel for the batter, something that would allow me to pour closer to the surface of the oil. The sides of my Dutch oven were quite high. I thought maybe the oil wasn’t hot enough? Maybe it was too hot? I couldn’t check after all, so that could very well be it. Was the batter mixture too cold? I let that sit for a while at room temperature.
Nothing I did made a difference and I was quickly amassing a big pile of funnel cake bits – that were nevertheless tasty, but nothing that represented a funnel cake.
I decided to call in the reinforcements and got Chef on the phone.
He politely dismissed my declarations that I was a disaster funnel-cake maker, and patiently went through the recipe with me to check I did everything right. We checked-marked everything and then he asked “What’s the batter like?”
Swirling it around in the pitcher I said, it’s kinda liquid-y?
“It’s not thick, like pancake mix?” he asked.
No, I said I wouldn't call it thick.
You probably need more flour, he declared. We went back to the recipe and I did a hand-smack to the forehead when I saw 400g. I misread that as 400ml. I needed about another cup of flour in my mixture.
Happy to have solved the problem, he let me get back to my test kitchen where I quickly modified what I had left of my batter and tried it again. Success! It stuck together in the oil!
I was only able to make two complete funnel cakes with what I had left, but I’m sure my formations would have improved if I had whipped up more batter to try some more. It seems like the kind of thing that gets better with practice. But the circular swirl with a couple zig zags across the top did the job for me.
I dusted each with powdered sugar, drizzled the strawberry sauce, added some fresh strawberries, and then added a swirl mountain of Cool Whip on top (no ice cream currently in the house).
My kids were thrilled to get such a fancy treat at home! And though having a funnel cake at Canada’s Wonderland on a sunny, summer day will always be the best – my effort wasn’t half bad! I'll have to try again another day with ice cream and the proper batter mixture, now that I'm reading it right ;)
I hope everyone enjoys. We’d love to see your attempts, so please take photos and share on social.
Canada’s Wonderland Classic Funnel Cake with Strawberry Sauce
Makes 3-4 large funnel cakes, or 5-7 small ones. Safety note: please keep children away from stovetop and hot oil.
CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION
Make strawberry sauce first and store in a refrigerator.
- 250g Frozen Strawberries
- 1 L + 30 ml water
- 100g strawberry Jam
- 200g sugar
- 50g strawberry glaze (optional)
- 2 tsp strawberry extract
- 1/2 tbsp red food colouring
- 56g modified corn starch (clear gel) – (if not available can be replaced with corn starch; adjust amount as per packaging instructions for 30 ml of water)
- In a thick-bottom pot bring 1 L water to boil.
- Add sugar, strawberry jam, strawberry glaze, red food colouring and bring to boil on medium heat.
- Mix modified corn starch (Clear Gel) – (if not available can be replaced with corn starch) and mix with 30 ml water.
- Pour modified corn starch mixture slowly into the boiling strawberry jam-strawberry glaze mixture while stirring.
- Make sure no lumps in it. Bring to boil, add strawberry extract and mix. Turn off the heat.
- Place frozen strawberries in a heat-proof container. Pour boiling mixture over the frozen strawberries and mix well.
- Cover with a lid and place in the refrigerator until strawberries are thawed. Mix gently before you serve it with funnel cakes.
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 250ml 2% milk
- 250ml water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 400g all-purpose flour
- 52g sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Oil for deep frying (enough to cover funnel cake)
- Confectionery (Icing) sugar
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
- In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix all wet ingredients eggs, milk, water and vanilla extract until well blended.
- Slowly combine dry ingredients into wet until completely mixed and there are no lumps. Do not over mix and make sure mixture is smooth.
- Pour mixture into a pitcher or squeeze bottle.
- In a thick-bottom pot, heat oil to 375°F.
- Test oil by dropping a small spoonful of batter in oil. If it rises to surface quickly, oil is ready.
- Hold the jug or squeeze bottle with the funnel cake mixture 3-4 inches above the oil (wear an oven mitt for safety).
- Pour about 1 cup funnel cake mixture in a spiral motion.
- With a slotted spoon carefully fry each side about 2 minutes until golden brown. (Be careful not to splash hot oil)
- Remove funnel cake and drain excess oil on paper towels.
- Place warm funnel cake on a plate, pour about 2 spoons (or more as desired) of strawberry sauce over, sprinkle confectionery sugar and serve.
- If available, can be served with vanilla ice cream.