This deep-fried pastry adapts easily as dessert
Sopapillas go by various names in the Latin American countries from which they originated.
They’re traditionally made with leavened wheat flour or a mixture of wheat and corn masa with a fat — lard, shortening or butter — added. In Latin America, they’re very often savory and used like bread with a meal or stuffed with a variety of fillings.
In North America, it’s more likely to be served as a dessert. The sopapillas found in Mexican restaurants are different than their Southern counterparts, more similar to Navajo fry bread and beignets. After the dough rises, it’s punched down and rolled into a 1⁄4-inch thick rectangle that’s cut into triangular, rectangular or circular shapes, deep fried with a hollow interior in which honey is poured.
This recipe is yeasted, but many use baking powder.
1 package active dry yeast
1½ cups warm water or milk
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lard or shortening, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
Oil for frying
Cinnamon sugar for dusting
Honey for serving
Mix yeast and warm water or milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Combine flour and salt. Add lard and sugar to the yeast mixture and slowly add to the flour. Once combined, knead for a few minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
Form into a ball, place in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
Remove from bowl and punch down. Place on a floured surface and roll out into a ¼-inch rectangle. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut into 3-inch squares. Cut diagonally into triangles for the traditional shape or leave as rectangles.
In a large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 375 F. Gently drop sopapillas into the oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with a paper towel. Be sure to let the temperature of the oil return to 375 F before adding more sopapillas.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.