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Makes about 24 small puffs

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lard, vegetable shortening, or butter
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (optional)
1/4 cup warm water (110°F, 45°C)
about 1/2 cup milk at room temperature
vegetable oil for deep-frying

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-size bowl, and cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl and add cooled milk, stirring well. Add some of the milk to the dry ingredients and work into the dough. Add more liquid gradually until the dough is firm and springy and holds its shape. Knead dough thoroughly, about five minutes, until smooth, firm, and elastic. Invert a bowl over dough and let rest for 10 minutes or until dough is softened. Heat three to four inches of oil in a deep-fat fryer until they reach 375°F (350° at high altitude). Work with one-half of the dough at a time, keeping the balance well covered with the bowl. Roll a section to 1/8 inch thickness, then cut into triangles or 2 1/2 inch squares; DO NOT reroll any of the dough. Fry sopaipillas a few at a time, they should puff up and become hollow soon after they are immersed in the oil. If they don't puff up, keep hold under the surface of the oil with tongs or spoon until they do puff. Drain on paper towels.

Variation- For Orange Sopaipillas - add the zest of an orange into the milk and then combine with the dough. Finish recipe as above.

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