In a small bowl, stir together the warm water and the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over this and let it set for about 10 minutes. You will see a froth form on the top it, and you can smell the yeast.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the milk, shortening, and salt just until the shortening melts. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool down to lukewarm. NOTE: If either the water or milk mix is too hot, it will “kill” the yeast and your dough will not rise.
Place the flour into a large mixing bowl and begin to mix in both the yeast and the milk mixtures, stirring briskly to mix in all the ingredients. When the dough becomes to thick to mix with the spoon, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minimum of 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic when pulled and not sticky (it should spring back slightly when you poke a finger into it).
Take a small amount of your vegetable oil and place it into a large bowl. Roll the dough ball in the oil, flipping it over and covering the dough ball with a thin coating of the oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 1 to 2 hours.
NOTE: This recipe can even be made the day before and placed in the refrigerator to rise overnight. Cover the bowl with a plate and make sure there is enough room that the dough doesn’t rise over the edges of the bowl.
When dough has risen, punch down the dough, cut it into four (4) equal sections, and allow it to rest for another 10 minutes.
While the dough is resting heat your oil to 375 degrees F. (a skillet or electric fryer works best).
Divide each dough quarter into three (3) pieces. Pat them into a 4-inch circle, stretching and pressing until a round shape is formed. Carefully place the dough pieces into the hot oil and fry until they puff up and are browned, approximately 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, flip the Bunuelo over and cook for another 1 minute to brown the second side. Remove from the hot oil and drain well.
Bunuelos can be kept warm in a 200 degree F. oven for up to 1 hour.
They refrigerate well and can be reheated in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
* Anise tea is very often used instead of plain water lending a sweet aroma to the Bunuelos. To make anise tea, place 1 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring the water to a boil, add the anise seeds and set aside to cool. Strain and use the amount needed to make dough.
Bunuelos Recipe: https://whatscookingamerica.net/CynthiaPineda/Bunuelos.htm