I bought my daughter a "commercial" small deep fryer with a basket and she has been trying to perfect her making of these; however, no matter what type of recipe she uses, the funnel cake batter falls to the bottom of the fryer and sticks to the basket, any suggestions?
You need to change out the milk for buttermilk OR the baking powder for baking soda. Either of which will improve will improve the ability of the batter to form air pockets, thus becoming more buoyant, once in contact with the oil, thereby causing the cake to rise to the surface.
You would probably also get better results by removing the baskets altogether and using a spider to scoop the finished funnel cakes out of the oil. This should stop the problem of the batter clinging to the submerged baskets.
Might you be able to get a different basket/an addition to your basket, for a smooth(er) bottomed surface? A solid-er basket with holes or slots for draining, or else a plate insert for the bottom?
The problem with the basket isn't just that the food touches it, but that the batter deforms around the wires and when it fries, the wires are running through the funnel cake. The batter may touch the bottom of a smoother container, but it should dislodge quite easily when the batter is cooked because it's harder to hold on to a smooth surface.
At least, that's how it works when we're frying at home (stovetop). Whatever we're frying can touch or even stick to the bottom or sides of the pot, but it releases on its own or is easily dislodged with a skimmer.
You might be able to find something like this or that - obviously you need one the right size/shape for your fryer. Or even toss in a simple, thin metal plate on the bottom. As long as you shake the oil off (sideways) it shouldn't drag up much extra oil and it may help quite a bit to keep your cakes from sticking.