Even though my family didn’t have much money, we lived a privileged life as kids. This is because we had a mom who would serve homemade sopapillas with dinner from time to time.
A sopapilla is a type of fried bread that is perfect for sopping up pinto bean juice or for drizzling honey over. I preferred them with honey, but since Momma liked making sopapillas whenever she made chop suey (I know it sounds odd), I also enjoyed dipping them in my stir-fry gravy. 🙂
I’ve seen a lot of complicated recipes for this dish over the years, some calling for milk and even yeast. Don’t listen to these recipes! They are only trying to discourage you from eating fried bread! In simple terms, sopapilla dough is nothing more than tortilla dough with an egg mixed in. No sugar. No dairy. NO yeast. But lard? You betcha!!
Lard is the difference between “good” Mexican food and “incredibly awesome” Mexican food. Nevertheless, you can totally substitute lard with shortening in this recipe. You’re sopapillas will still be good.
To start off, pretend you are making biscuits. Whisk together:
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
Next, cut in 1/3 cup lard or shortenin until the mixture is coarse and mealy.
Stir in a cup of warm water and a lightly beaten egg.
Then stir, stir, stir the dough until it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, stir in a couple more tablespoons of flour. You want your dough to feel slightly damp but not sticky.
Divide dough into quarters, cover with a damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes while the baking powder does it’s thang.
Meanwhile, add about 1 inch of vegetable oil into a 6-quart dutch oven. You don’t need a lot of oil but the larger pot allows you to fry more at once.
After the dough has rested 20 minutes, heat the oil over medium-high heat. While the oil heats, roll one quarter of the dough on a lightly floured board into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick.
Cook’s Note: As you roll, flip and turn the dough often. This helps the dough maintain its stretch.
Cut the rectangle into whatever size you prefer. 4 squares render big-mama-jama sopapillas while 8 squares render palm-sized sopapillas.
Here’s my Momma’s secret to light, puffy sopapillas:
Before the dough goes into the hot oil, give it a little stretch all the way around. If it tears a little, no biggie. Still, be gentle and don’t go nuts. You’ve stretched enough when you can almost see through the dough.
Here’s Momma’s second secret to light, puffy sopapillas:
Immediately after you [carefully] place the dough into the hot oil, begin spooning the oil over the surface of the dough.
This will cause the top to puff up:
Fry for 15-30 seconds on one side until lightly golden and then gently flip over and fry for another 10-15 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel-lined platter and repeat with the rest of the batch. You can fry up to 3 or 4 at once depending on the width of your pot but don’t attempt more than that.
Serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature and are still quite delicious (though not as crisp).
Whether sprinkled with powdered sugar, rolled in cinnamon sugar, drizzled with honey or dipped into whatever is for dinner, these sopapillas are little fried bread pillows of love. Here’s to the privileged life!
How do you prefer your sopapillas?
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup lard or shortening
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Vegetable oil for frying
- In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in lard until well incorporated and mixture is mealy. Pour in water and egg and mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If dough is too sticky, dust with a little bit of flour. Dough should feel slightly damp but not sticky.
- Divide dough into quarters and cover with a damp towel. Allow to rest on the counter for 20 minutes.
- Heat one inch of oil in a 6-quart dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Dust surface with flour and roll out one quarter of the dough until 1/8″ thick, turning dough while you roll. Cut into 4-8 pieces.
- When oil is hot, take one square of dough and gently stretch it even thinner all around. Carefully place dough in the oil and immediately begin spooning oil over the surface of the dough. This will cause the sopapilla to fluff up. Fry for about 15-30 seconds until light golden and then carefully turn over and fry another 10-15 seconds.
- Transfer sopapilla to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Serve immediately.
- Carefully turn sopapilla over after a few secon