“A quién no le gusta las sopaipillas ricas y calentitas en un lluvioso día de invierno?”
– Dicen todos los chilenos, siempre
Concepción is famous for its rainy winters. Fungus grows in unused rooms, clothes are never really dry, and streets regularly flood. People actually earn money here by standing with a plank of wood near a flooded intersection and charging pedestrians for placing the plank over the water so they can cross without getting their feet wet! But I digress…
I realised I hadn’t blogged about anything sweet yet. So I thought I’d share with you a great Chilean sweet treat, especially for those soggy, cold winter afternoons.
Sopaipillas are a cross between bread and a donut. They are made from few and basic ingredients, mainly flour and pumpkin puree, and deep fried. Sopaipillas pasadas are served in salsa de chancaca; a warm, sweet syrup, flavoured with cinnamon, clove and orange rind.
This dish is something to prepare on the weekend, as making the dough takes some time. But don’t confuse time consuming with difficult! They’re easy, and definitely worth all the effort. Oh, and make lots, because they are great for breakfast the next day, when the sopaipillas have soaked up all the flavour of the syrup.
For the Sopaipillas
- 500g plain flour
- 150g pureed pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons of lard, melted (you could also use butter or vegetable shortening)
- A pinch of baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- Vegetable oil for frying
And José’s Abuela’s secret ingredient:
- 1 medium banana, mashed
For the Salsa de Chancaca
- 200g chancaca (you can substitute with brown sugar)
- 4 cups water
- 4 cloves
- 1 cinnamon quill
- The rind of half an orange (shave the rind off in large pieces, not grated)
- 3 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in some cold water
For the sopaipillas, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together and add them to the dry ingredients. Work the mixture into a dough. Use your hands and knead it together on a flat surface. It will look like it will never come together, but keep at it. Be patient. Your efforts will be rewarded with sweet sopaipilla goodness.
For the salsa, place everything except the cornstarch into a pot and bring to the boil. Once the chancaca is completely dissolved, pour in the cornstarch and stir until the syrup becomes thick and, well, syrupy (is that a word?).
With a rolling pin (or an empty bottle which is what I used because I don’t own a rolling pin 😦 ) roll out the dough until it is about half a centimetre thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out circles of dough and prick right though twice with a fork. Press the left over pastry together, roll it out and repeat until all the dough is used up.
Heat the oil in the pan. You need enough to deep fry the sopaipillas. Make sure it is really hot before you put in the first batch. Fry both sides until golden brown and place on a paper towel to drain the oil.
Once all the sopaipillas are fried, add them to the syrup and heat until warmed through and some of the syrup has been absorbed. Serve hot!