Forget manufactured institutions such as the United Nations. The thing that unites all of humanity is the love of fried dough. Beignets, hush puppies, fry bread, won tons, doughnuts, fritters and latkes all represent entries into the cultural melting pot that is America, and it is apparent that the melting pot is filled with hot oil.
Nowhere is the vast array of fried dough products showcased more than at a fair. The Indiana State Fair opened on August 3rd. Fair vendors happily offer the tried and true staples: corn dogs and funnel cakes. Admittedly this stuff doesn’t qualify as healthy, but a once-yearly foray into the land of crispy fried objects on a stick won’t undo completely a year of eating tofu and vegetables. Moderation is the key, and to be moderately indulgent during the State Fair is a Hoosier tradition. Add a few laps on the walking path or treadmill to your routine this week and enjoy some fair fare at home if you can’t make it to the fairgrounds this year.
The corn dog made its debut during the 1920s at the Texas State Fair. Consisting of a frankfurter dipped in hush puppy batter and deep fried, corn dogs clearly have southern origins but have migrated north to become a fair favorite of yankees as well. Corn dog lovers have designated March 20th as National Corn Dog day, so save this recipe and celebrate in style this coming spring.
4 all-beef frankfurters<br>1 c. corn meal<br>3/4 c. all purpose flour<br>1 egg, slightly beaten<br>1 c. buttermilk<br> 1 tsp. baking powder<br> 1/2 tsp. baking soda<br> 1/4 tsp. salt<br> Hot oil for frying
Lightly dust frankfurters with flour; set aside
In a medium bowl, whisk together corn meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour in egg and buttermilk, stir until batter just comes together. Pour batter into narrow baking pan or pie dish. Dip floured frankfurters into batter, rolling to ensure frankfurters are covered completely. Heat 2″ of vegetable oil in large skillet to 350 degrees. Drop battered franks into hot oil and fry until batter has puffed slightly and is a golden brown. Remove from hot oil and place on layers of paper towels to drain off excess oil.
The funnel cake originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch. Batter was poured into hot oil through a funnel, and the cake formed by swirling the stream of batter in concentric circles. The large, crispy cake was flipped with a spatula so both sides were browned and then dusted with confectioners sugar once it was removed from the oil. The simplest way to recreate the funnel cake at home is to use mix a favorite pancake batter in a large measuring cup or a bowl that has a lip. Pour the batter from the cup into a skillet of oil heated to 350 degrees, making sure to move the cup in a circular motion. An even easier funnel cake recipe comes from the creators of Dezzie Dough. Dezzie Dough manufactures premixed, frozen pancake, muffin and corn bread batters. They suggest using a package of their Sweet Potato Muffin batter, using the pour spout on the package as a funnel and pouring the batter in rounds of 7 to 10 revolutions. Dezzie Dough is available at all area Marsh grocery stores.
No one really knows who created the fried candy bar, but this little gem is a surefire winner with anyone who loves chocolate cream-filled doughnuts. Any miniature-sized chocolate bar can be used, but the bars that contain solid fillings such as a chewy nougat, caramel or peanut butter work the best. Because the filling is so rich, the batter needs to be light and airy. The following batter is based on a traditional New Orleans recipe for beignets. It fries quickly, and this prevents the chocolate inside from oozing out.
Fried Candy Bars
12 miniature chocolate bars, frozen<br> 1/2 c. all-purpose flour<br 1 egg, separated<br> 6 tbsp. sparkling water<br> 1/2 tsp. baking powder<br> 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil<br> 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar<br> 1/2 tsp. vanilla<br> 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
Place egg white and cream of tartar in small narrow bowl. Beat until still peaks form.
In medium bowl, mix together flour, egg yolk, granulated sugar, baking powder, vegetable oil and vanilla. Whisk together, adding sparkling water by the tablespoon until mixture resembles thick pancake batter. Gently fold in beaten egg white. Plunge frozen candy bars into mixture, using tablespoon to coat candy thoroughly.
Heat 2″ of vegetable oil in skillet to 380 – 400 degrees. Using a tablespoon, drop coated candy bars into hot oil. Fry 1 – 2 minutes, flipping midway to ensure both sides are golden brown. Drain fried bars on paper towels; serve while still warm.