I must admit that I love this time of year and especially, the long Easter weekend. Unlike its attention-grabbing cousin Christmas, Easter feels like a more relaxed and chilled-out affair. There seems to be a little less stress in the family kitchen over the fiestas allowing for spur-of-the-moment gatherings and slightly more casual food, which somehow makes it more pleasurable…and then off course, there’s those wickedly, tempting chocolate eggs to look forward to!
Easter is traditionally a time for hope, renewal and weeklong celebrations in Spain, but this year’s festivities will once again be a very are different affair for obvious reasons. To make it worse, most of us are separated from loved ones and friends at a time when we would normally be gathering together around a table to enjoy good company, great food and a few deliciously sweet Easter treats. But in these frightening and uncertain times the kitchen offers us sanctuary, an oasis of peace and tranquillity where we can relax and forget about the storm raging outside for a while. Luckily the Spanish kitchen gives us plenty of inspiration at this time as fiestas and religious festivals have traditionally been associated with an assortment of pastries, sweets, cakes and biscuits. Some are flavoured with almonds’ pine nuts, honey, cinnamon, and orange blossom water reflecting their Arab, Moorish roots, while others are doughnut style pastries fried in oil such as my personal favourites “Buñuelos de semana santa”. I prefer mine with sweet potatoes. They are very simple to make and a delicious afternoon tea treat any time of the year!
Sweet potato “Buñuelos” with an apricot and vanilla sauce
Buñuelos, or bunyols as they are known in Mallorca, are simple, deep-fried doughnuts traditionally associated with fiestas and religious festivals. They are extremely popular over the Easter period and are flavoured with almonds or pine nuts, honey, cinnamon, and orange blossom water, reflecting their Arabian and Moorish roots. The sweet potatoes are best cooked the day before, to allow them to dry out a little overnight.
Bee pollen, along with locally produced honey, is found in market stalls all over the island. It is considered one of nature’s most nourishing foods and adds a slightly floral, nutty and bittersweet flavour to the finished sauce. It is readily available in most health food stores or online.
· 500g sweet potatoes (cooked in their skins)
· 150g flour
· 1 egg
· 2 egg yolks
· 50 icing sugar
· Pinch of ground cinnamon
Apricot and vanilla sauce
· 200ml water
· 100g sugar
· 500g fresh apricots (you can also used dried)
· 1 vanilla pod (split)
To make the buñuelos:
Carefully, peel the sweet potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Work them to a puree with a wooden spoon and add the egg and egg yolks. Add the flour and sugar; beat well until the mixture forms a smooth dough.
To make the apricot and vanilla sauce:
Place all the ingredients over a gentle flame and simmer for 20 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate until required. Heat enough oil to cover the bunuelos. Using two spoons dipped in hot water, form balls of dough and drop them carefully into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown, remove and drain them on absorbent paper. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar and serve warm with the chilled apricot and vanilla sauce.