Here in Indiana, August is State Fair time. Through the 17th, Hoosiers will flock to the fairgrounds to experience all the classics associated with this summer tradition: rides, animals, hot air balloons, high school band day, and, perhaps most importantly, fair food.
One of the best-known of fair foods is the elephant ear. The version you get at fairs, carnivals, and such is basically fried dough with cinnamon and sugar, and around a foot in diameter. But the Draper Employee Cookbook has a recipe that calls for baking them in the oven.
Advertising Manager Penny Sitler submitted this recipe for Mom’s Elephant Ears. Here’s her story:
When I was a kid, we spent a day at the Indiana State Fair every year. And every year my mother (Iola Rutherford) and I stopped at the little red barn in front of the Home & Family Arts building to share an elephant ear. It wasn’t the only place you could get one, but Mom said theirs were the best. 40 years later, I still get an elephant ear at that stand every year.
It was a long time between state fairs, and we didn’t have a deep fryer to make our own. So Mom hunted–long before recipe sites on the internet–until she found a recipe for elephant ears that she could make at home. These are smaller too, so you don’t have to share! We still got a deep fried elephant ear every year at the State Fair, but Mom’s baked elephant ears became a special wintertime treat in our family.
- 1 pkg dry yeast
- ¼ cup water
- 1-1/2 Tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups flour
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup + 2 Tbsp oleo (margarine)
- ½ cup milk
- 1-1/2 cup sugar, mixed with 3-1/2 tsp cinnamon
Soften the yeast in the water. Mix flour, 1-1/2 Tbsp sugar and salt; cut in ½ cup oleo, as for pastry. Combine the milk, egg yolk, and yeast mixture, then stir into flour mixture. Cover and chill 2 hours. Turn the dough out on a floured board, knead it a few minutes and shape into a ball. Cover, let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out onto 10” x 18” rectangle, spread with 2 Tbsp oleo. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Roll (as for a jelly roll) and cut into ½” slices. Put 1 cup of the cinnamon/sugar mixture in a square cake pan. Press each slice of dough into the cinnamon/sugar mixture until it makes a 5” circle. Place dough circles on a cookie sheet, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle more cinnamon/sugar mixture. Let rise. Bake 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 18.