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Sopaipillas appear in many forms throughout Central and South America and under almost as many names, including hojaldras or hojuelas. Some quick-bread versions, albeit with less airy results, are made with baking powder or baking soda in place of yeast, and some use richer batters with cooked zapallo (pumpkin) folded in. This basic recipe is perfect with black coffee any time of day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • Canola for frying 
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  • Honey for serving

Directions:

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, combine 2 cups of the flour and the salt and pulse to mix, about 5 seconds. Add the yeast mixture, the milk and butter and pulse to mix, about 20 seconds. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and process just until a moist dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 seconds. If the dough seems too sticky, add 2 Tbs. flour and pulse until soft but not sticky, about 10 seconds.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let stand in a warm, dark place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

In a deep saucepan over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 3 inches and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper and 1 baking sheet with paper towels.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Using a small, sharp knife or a round cookie cutter, cut out 24 squares or rounds. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Slip a few sopaipillas into the hot oil and fry, using tongs to turn as needed, until lightly golden on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes total. Transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat to fry the remaining sopaipillas. Divide the sopaipillas among individual plates and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately with honey on the side for drizzling. Makes 24 sopaipillas.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Latin Cooking, by Patricia McCausland-Gallo, Deborah Schneider & Beverly Cox (Oxmoor House, 2010).