Catholic Recipe: Bunuelos (California Mission Fritters)
Also Called: Bunuelos
This is one of the traditional foods eaten in the California Missions; a combination of Spanish/Mexican/Native American cultures. The fritters is usually cooked around Christmas time and often paired with atole, a Mexican hot beverage, but it can be made anytime of the year.
The fritters could be served in honor of Junipero Serra.
Begin by beating the eggs until they are light in color and thickened. Melt the fat by microwaving for about 45 seconds. Add the shortening and milk to the eggs.
(Milk was often obtained from goats raised as livestock, as cows were typically raised for tallow and hides.)
Combine the sifted flour, sugar and salt.
Sift into the egg mixture and blend well. This should make a soft dough that is easily handled without sticking to the hands.
Shape into balls the size of a walnut and roll on a lightly-floured board into a round-shaped cake similar to tortillas.
While shaping your dough balls, you can begin heating up your vegetable oil or fat for frying. This can be done in a deep pot on the stove, filled about half way with oil and allowed it to heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
**Note: This method of frying can be used for other recipes if you are without a deep fryer!
Using a spider spoon, or another utensil that can withstand the heat and drain out the oil, submerge your dough balls into the hot oil. Allow the balls to fry about 30-45 seconds on each side.
Place the dough balls on a drying rack (preferably with something underneath to catch excess oil) and immediately sprinkle with your mixture of sugar and ground cinnamon. Allow them to cool.
(From receipts from supply ships sent from San Blas Mexico, we know that sugar and cinnamon were both imported to the Santa Barbara Presidio.)Recipe Source: California Mission Recipes by Bess Cleveland, Olympic Marketing Corp, 1984