For many Americans, funnel cake and apple cider donuts are Proustian in the best way: One evokes hayrides and flannel; the other roller coasters and tank tops. Ours combines the best of both to make crunchy, airy, freeform cakes with all the flavors of a cider donut.
For more traditional, carnival-style funnel cakes, substitute water for the apple cider and omit the cinnamon from the confectioner’s sugar.
To make this hybrid dessert extra-extra, drizzle the cakes with chocolate or caramel syrup (or both!) after dusting with the cinnamon sugar.
While you can follow the traditional method and pour the batter through a funnel into the hot oil, we find it easier to squeeze it out of a bottle or piping bag, which gives you more control.
Apple Cider Funnel Cakes
Canola or peanut oil, for frying
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoon ground cinnamon, divided
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1½ cups apple cider
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cider, and water. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until smooth. The consistency should be similar to pancake batter; if it’s too thick to drizzle, add some milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it reaches desired consistency.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a couple layers of paper towels. In a small bowl, stir together the confectioner’s sugar and remaining 1½ teaspoons of cinnamon.
Transfer the batter to a squeeze bottle, pastry bag fitted with a round tip, or a large resealable plastic bag and cut off one corner. Squeeze ½ cup of batter into the oil in a circular pattern and fry the funnel cake until puffed and golden brown on one side, about 1 to 2 minutes, then gently flip and continue frying until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Using tongs, transfer the funnel cake to paper towels to drain. Immediately dust the funnel cake with the cinnamon sugar and repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot.