This recipe comes from Phoebe Lawless of Scratch Bakery in Durham, NC (where I am an employee). Any variety of apple works here. At her restaurant The Lakewood, where this confection is made, the bakers use a cast-iron peeler/corer/slicer, which essentially spiralizes the skins. If you don’t have one, you can also use a hand peeler to create curls—the longer and thinner, the better! They will keep in an airtight bag for up to 3 days in the fridge. About 2 apples, depending on their size, yields 1 funnel cake.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the cider, milk, and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry—this order helps prevent lumps!—then whisk until completely smooth. (You can make the batter a day in advance and store in the fridge.)
Set a small skillet over medium-high heat and add a thick layer of oil. (Figure about 3/4 cup for an 8” skillet.) Heat to about 350° F. You want a drop of batter to instantly fizzle and float—not start to sink, nor brown.
Drop a small handful of apple peels (roughly 2 apples’ worth) into the funnel cake batter. Use a pair of tongs to submerge the peels, then pick them up and squeeze out any excess batter. Add to the hot oil, using your tongs to swiftly spread out the peels. You want an even layer—cozy, so the cake stays cohesive, but not all over each other. Fry for about 2 1/2 minutes, until the bottom is deeply golden brown. Flip, then fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then onto a cooling rack to crisp up.
Repeat with the remaining peels and batter. Shower the cakes in powdered sugar and eat right away.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.