Makes: 21/2 dozen. Prep: 25 minutes. Chill: 1 hour. Stand: 30 minutes. Cook: 20 minutes, plus 3 minutes per bunuelo. As Christmas approaches, bunuelo stands appear in towns and villages all across Mexico, almost overnight. People line up for the crispy sweets, straight from the fryer. Albesa Gomez, a terrific Mexican-American cook I know, shared her recipe.
1. To make cinnamon tea, simmer cinnamon and water in small heavy saucepan 20 minutes.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Cut in the shortening with pastry blender until texture of coarse meal. Add 3/4 cup hot cinnamon tea, tossing with fork just until dough comes together. If too dry (pastry should be similar to pie dough), toss in a little more cinnamon tea. Cover; refrigerate 1 hour.
3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and satiny, about 5 minutes. Pinch off small chunks of dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Cover balls; let rest at room temperature 30 minutes.
4. Pour vegetable oil into large deep skillet to a depth of 2 to 2-1/2 inches. Insert deep-fat thermometer. Heat until oil reaches 380 degrees F.
5. Working with one dough ball at a time, flatten on floured surface with rolling pin; roll to circle as thin as piecrust, 5 inches across.
6. Fry 1 bunuelo at a time in oil until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to keep temperature of oil between 380 degrees F and 400 degrees F. With slotted spoon, lift bunuelo to paper toweling to drain. While still hot, sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar.