Recipe Finder: Elephant ears

January 12, 2013|By Julie Rothman, For The Baltimore Sun

Sue Pierce from South Bend, Ind., wrote in looking for a recipe for making elephant ears, the kind that you can get at many local fairs across the country. She said her mom loves them and she was hoping someone would be able to share an easy recipe so that she could make them for her at home.

Beth Raker from Mishawaka, Ind., saw Pierce's request and sent in a recipe that she said was given to her by a teacher who served as a missionary in Mexico. She said she has enjoyed making these with her children and grandchildren for at least 25 years.

While I have come across other recipes for elephant ears that are made with puff pastry, Raker's recipe for this country fair treat is really nothing more than fried dough. The simple baking powder dough is a snap to make and can be fried in just 3/8-inch of vegetable oil, no messy deep-frying necessary. The thinner you roll out the dough, the crisper the ears will be. I used peanut oil because it has a higher smoke point and a neutral flavor. The dough puffed up and browned beautifully, and the elephant ears were gobbled up the moment they came out of the pan. Served warm, topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar or even a drizzle of maple syrup, these are truly a delectable indulgence.


Ann Montgomery from Millersville is looking for the recipe for a dessert her mother used to make back in the 1950s that she called Cottage Pudding. It was a one-layer yellow cake over which she poured a slightly sweet, fairly thin white sauce, She said that neither of her sisters (both excellent, creative cooks) nor she has ever found the recipe or been able to re-create it. Her mother lived in southern Ohio and was Irish/German, so it may have been a regional dish.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request, write to Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, and The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278 or email If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate piece of paper and be sure to include your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Name and hometown must accompany recipes in order to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letter and recipes may be edited for clarity.

Opal's elephant ears

Makes: About 8 5-inch ears

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 heaping tablespoons Crisco

1/2 cup warm water (more if needed)

Vegetable or peanut oil for frying

Confectioners sugar, cinnamon sugar, maple syrup, for toppings

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in Crisco using a pastry blender, food processor or your fingers.

Stir in warm water to make a soft dough. Turn out onto surface and knead briefly.

Cover and let dough rest for 20 minutes. You can also make the dough ahead and refrigerate, covered well.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces, working with one piece at a time, roll into a thin approximately 5-inch round. The thinner the dough, the crisper it will be. When doing this with children, they can pat the dough out between their hands instead of using a rolling pin.

Heat about 3/8 inch of vegetable oil to 375 degrees in a frying pan (if you are using a 10-inch pan, this will be about 2 cups of oil). Use a candy thermometer to take the temperature of the oil or you can estimate it by seeing if the first piece of dough fries nicely in the time specified.

Using tongs, lower one piece of dough carefully into the hot oil. Let it cook for approximately 60 seconds (it will puff up on top and become light brown on the underside), then flip it over and cook until light brown on the other side, about 30 seconds more. Watch carefully: If they get too dark, they will be overly crisp.

Remove from oil and set on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Serve immediately or place in a 200-degree oven to keep warm while you make the remaining fried dough. Serve warm, dusted with confectioners sugar, cinnamon sugar, maple syrup or any other topping of your choice.

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