Bunyols de vent: the quintessential puffy Catalan desserts to eat during lent
Airy and sweet pastries double in size when they are fried and are often filled with cream, custard or chocolate
Catalonia has a lot of culinary traditions surrounding the Easter period. For example, it often coincides with the final days of the ‘calçots’ season, calçots being a type of onion grilled over a fire before being peeled and dipped into a special romesco-like sauce, eaten at seasonal get-togethers called calçotades.
Mones de Pasqua are also world-famous: they are elaborately decorated Catalan cakes or tarts prepared for Easter Monday, the day which comes after Easter Sunday.
Bunyols de Quaresma or bunyols de vent, meaning ‘wind’ donuts, are traditional fried Catalan desserts enjoyed during the Lent season, the period between Carnival and Easter Sunday. They are round and puffy, coming in the shape of balls usually topped with sugar.
How to make bunyols
They are made from a choux pastry, which means that the fat, normally butter, is heated with milk or water. Once it is boiling, flour is added and the eggs are incorporated to make the dough.
A pastry chef at la Pastisseria de la Colmena, one of Barcelona’s oldest bakeries, Xavier Arévalo Muntané, spoke to Catalan News about how they make bunyols. He said that he also adds a bit of “crème pâtissière and moscatel wine” to differentiate them from the other similar desserts that they make.
The dough is then shaped into lots of little balls, sometimes using a piping bag, and deep fried. Once they are placed in the hot oil, they double in size and blow up with air, hence the link to “wind”. This makes them ideal for filling, so are often injected with cream, chocolate or even crema catalana (a crème made of egg yolks, sugar, flour and milk, aromatised with cinnamon and lemon or orange peel).
Bunyols de vent were allegedly brought to Catalonia by the Sephardic Jews in the Middle ages, and are still sold at almost all bakeries and patisseries traditionally in Catalonia on Wednesdays and Fridays, but also now on some other days too.
Talking to Catalan News, Arévalo Muntané added: “In Lent-time, it’s what has to be done - eating bunyols”.