>> Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Buñuelos are a very traditional pastry eaten on the 1st of November, All Saints day, in the region of Madrid, as well as in many other parts of Spain. They are devoured by the dozen in every household to celebrate this day. And this year I attempted to make my own homemade buñuelos... I wasn't disappointed.
Buñuelos are round little beignets stuffed with a variety of creamy fillings. The buñuelo dough is a choux type of dough, although it is fried instead of baked. The dough balls puff up on frying, that's why these sweet things are called buñuelos de viento, literally wind beignets, when without filling. The fried balls can be stuffed with whipped cream, pastry cream, chocolate cream, apple compote... you name it. The most classical fillings are whipped and pastry cream and I like to stick to them.
Buñuelos de viento (Thermomix recipe, makes approx. 36 buñuelos)
Weigh the flour, mix with the baking powder and set aside. Put the water with the butter, sugar and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, turn off the heat and tip the flour mixture in one go while stirring vigorously. Stir until the dough forms a homogeneous ball and comes off the side of the pan. Check this video for a more visual explanation. Leave it to cool slightly and add the beaten eggs one by one, mixing thoroughly till you get a nice soft dough. Again leave it to cool a little.
Pour the sunflower oil in a deep pan, enough for deep-frying the beignets. Put the heat on medium. Use two teaspoons to scoop out little dough balls, smaller than a walnut, and dip them in the hot oil. The dough balls increase their size almost by four. Buñuelos are very collaborative little creatures and they turn around by themselves when one of the sides is done. So sweet of them. Make sure they are completely expanded before taking them out, otherwise the dough could be uncooked in the inside. The buñuelos you find in the pastry shops of Madrid are perfectly round... mine weren't, but I love them all the same. They have a lot of personality and you can't tell them what shape they should end up with... When golden brown and well puffed, take them out and put them on kitchen paper. Leave to cool.
Pastry cream for filling (Thermomix recipe)
You preferably need a double boiler for this or do it on Bain-Marie. You can thicken the cream on direct heat, only it's more risky as the cream can curdle if you overheat it, but it's quicker than the Bain-Marie method. Put all the ingredients together in a saucepan and stir, stir, stir, until the cream begins to thicken. It can take quite long, mine took more than 10 minutes in my Thermomix, heated to 90ºC. Some recipes use only the egg yolks for thickening, which make the cream thicken faster. Others use cornstarch instead of plain flour, but personally I don't like the consistency of cornstarch. Once reached the desired consistency (quite thick for filling), turn off the heat and pour the cream in a shallow dish or pan so that it cools more rapidly. Cover the cream with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool.
When the cream is at ambient temperature, fill a pastry bag preferably fitted with a tubular tip (it makes the filling process easier) with the cream. Then pierce each buñuelo (how painful!) with the tip and fill it with the cream. This is the most time-consuming part... I ate quite some unfilled buñuelos while filling the rest... they were so yummy! If you want to eat the buñuelos straight away, sprinkle them with a lot of powdered sugar... and enjoy without mercy. I must say the cream was luscious, you could notice the flavor of the old rhum from Venezuela... delicious.
Making buñuelos is not as difficult as it seems, trust me. The result is worthwhile. Besides they include two of the basic recipes every good cook should know how to prepare: pastry cream and choux paste. It's a good chance to try your hand at it. A bit time-consuming perhaps... but, is there a better way to spend a cold Autumn afternoon?