Buñuelos con Fresas

Saratoga County is overflowing with small town, rural charm – red barns, faded and freshly painted offset against impossibly green fields; Elk lodge bingo nights; pancake breakfasts at the volunteer fire department; lawn jockeys looking positively non-ironic among the prehistorically sized hostas lining large Victorian porches; hot air balloon festivals where the balloons may not fly at due to the overflowing rain. Come here for the horses, and the waters, both from the sky and the springs.

Saratoga County, as well as the surrounding areas, is also currently overflowing with strawberries. Fat, round and brightly red through their core, yielding softly at the bite, and forever ruining the appeal of commercially grown strawberries.

bunuelos_dough

Along with the abundance of local strawberries comes an abundance of strawberry festivals, all honoring the strawberry shortcake, piled high with strawberries in sauce, topped with fluffy whipped cream; there’s at least two or three a week of these festivals. Recently, with keys in hand bouncing on my feet slightly with anticipatory excitement, and ready to drive 20 minutes through the kind of narrow, heavily vegetated country roads a sub/urban driver such as myself still finds mildly terrifying, I had a sudden moment of self-awareness: I don’t like shortcake, so often dry and flavorless, and not much more than flour held together with fat; or whipped cream, particularly when it is nothing more than just whipped cream, no sugar, no vanilla; or the inevitable mint garnish placed as an afterthought on top. I like strawberries, I could leave the rest.

bunuelos_3

Buñuelos con Fresas

The lard in this recipe can easily be replaced with butter, or vegetable shortening, but why bother? If omitting the whole wheat flour, hold back some of the water when mixing, as the dough will require less liquid to achieve the right consistency.

For the buñuelos:

225 g all-purpose flour
75 g whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
45 g lard, room temperature
1 teaspoon ground fennel or anis seed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg, beaten
120 g water, warm*
Canola oil, for frying, as needed
Additional granulated sugar, for dusting, as needed

For the strawberries:

1 lime, zest and juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 pound strawberries

In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the buñuelos well. Add the lard, cutting into the dry ingredients until evenly incorporated. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg, mixing with a fork into dry ingredients. Slowly add water as mixing, working the dough for several minutes until it is smooth and very elastic. Don’t be shy with it, this tough dough can take it. The dough should be very slightly tacky to the touch, but should not stick. Place in a slightly greased bowl, cover and allow to rest for half an hour.

While dough is resting, whisk the zest and juice of one lime with two tablespoons of honey. Core and cut strawberries into bite sized pieces. Add to honey-lime mixture, toss to coat well, and allow to macerate at room temperature.

Divide dough into 14 even portions, rolling into smooth balls. Roll out on a flour dusted surface into as round and thin of a disk as possible, until approximately 7-8″ across. As this dough is quite elastic, it may be necessary to rest the buñuelo for a few seconds in between each pass of a rolling pin to allow the dough to settle.

Fry the buñuelos in 1/2″ of canola oil over medium heat for approximately 45 seconds per side, or until golden brown. Do not allow the oil to reach its smoking point. The buñuelos will form air bubbles while frying. If any become too large, very gently press it down with a heat-proof spatula, being careful to avoid any steam which may be released. Dust both sides of the buñuelos with granulated sugar immediately after frying.

Serve with macerated strawberries and their syrup. Garnish with mint if necessary.

*Note: The single best thing about the metric system, aside from the basis on multiples of ten making recipe conversions a breeze, is the way water can be measured. 1 gram of water equals 1 milliliter of water. A scale is so much easier to read accurately than the lines on a liquid measuring cup.


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