The Legacy of Food: Making Buñuelos with My Mother
I love sweets! They have always been my favorite. It doesn’t really matter what kind they are, as long as they are sweet, I’m pretty much a happy camper. When I was younger I actually used to help my mom make buñuelos on special occasions. Christmas and New Year’s Eve were especially great times for these tasty Latino treats. At posadas and family parties it seemed I could never get enough of these cinnamon and sugar concoctions, accompanied by Chocolate La Abuelita of course. Alright, so things haven’t really changed much since then!
Read Related: Sweet Mexico! New Mexican Dessert Classics
KEEPING FAMILY TRADITIONS ALIVE
What has changed is that my mother’s arthritis doesn’t really allow her to make very many buñuelos anymore. The kneading of flour this Mexican recipe requires always makes her hands feel extra painful. That’s where I come in this year. This Christmas, I’ve decided to make my mother’s version of buñuelos to continue this food tradition in our family.
In some parts of Mexico, where my family is from, buñuelos are actually made with syrup and piloncillo (kind of like brown sugar); a longer and more arduous process. We won’t be using piloncillo for this recipe!
Here’s my more modern take.
2 lbs flour
1/3 cooking oil or lard
1 TBSP baking powder
¼ TBSP salt
1 TBSP sugar
½ TBSP cinnamon
1 cup milk (warm not room temperature)
½ cup water and ½ cup set aside just in case needed (warm, not room temperature)
½ cup sugar
1/8 cup cinnamon
2 to 4 cups cooking oil (depending on how many you make)
Saucepan to heat milk and water
Large serving tray(s) lined with napkins or paper towels
Wooden board (or other flat surface for dough)
Large Mixing bowl
- In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt cinnamon, and baking powder). Then, once you’ve mixed all dry ingredients together, begin to incorporate the cooking oil, eggs, and warm milk to the mixture. Continue mixing them together until they form dough.
- Next, begin kneading the dough. While kneading, slowly start adding warm water, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough is no longer tearing apart when you press it. Be careful not to put too much water into your dough. You don’t want the dough to get too moist. It should feel a little dry to the touch when you are done. The entire kneading process takes seven to 10 minutes all together.
- Now form one single ball with your dough, cover it with a light handkerchief or kitchen towel, and set it aside for 2 hours.
- While you wait, mix some sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. You’ll use this mixture to sprinkle over your buñuelos when they are done. Depending on how sweet you want them is how much sugar and cinnamon you should mix together.
- After the 2 hours, uncover your dough and begin balling it up into individual patties about the size of a golf ball each (these will be your individual buñuelos ).
- Now, take the rounded dough one at a time and with a rolling pin begin to flatten it out like a tortilla. Quick tip: It doesn’t have to be a rolling pin. It can be any long sanitized cylinder object that is not hollow inside. Flatten out the dough in a circular shape as thin as possible for really crispy buñuelos .
- In a frying pan pour about 2 cups of any cooking oil and set the heat on your burner between high and medium high. Allow the cooking oil to heat and then place one tortilla-shaped buñuelo into the frying pan. Quick tip: Setting the heat too low will make the buñuelos absorb more oil than needed and setting the heat too high will burn the buñuelos. Make sure you have a spatula ready to push down air pockets as they form on your buñuelo. Try and maintain the flat form of the tortilla-shaped buñuelo so that it cooks evenly. You will need tongs to flip your buñuelos.
- Once your buñuelo is golden brown on one side flip it over and repeat the latter part of step 7. As soon as your buñuelos are cooked on both sides transfer them onto a serving tray (you can line your serving tray with paper towels to absorb any excess oil) and sprinkle as much of the sugar and cinnamon mixture you made earlier as you like on top of them.
Quick Tip: If you are going to make these by yourself, make sure to have a few of them already flattened out before you start placing them into the cooking oil. Buñuelos cook very quickly and you run the risk of over-heating the oil if you are flattening the buñuelos while you cook.
Finally, enjoy! Let me know what some of your favorite holiday treats are too. I’d like to know if I’m missing out on any sweets.
Learn more about Anjelica Casarez.