Picarónes (pumpkin and sweet potato doughnuts)

You’ll typically find these snacks on the street corners of Lima. The name ‘picarón’ translates as a cheeky, mischievous person and these live up to that name! They’re fun to make, a bit messy, and require patience, especially while you are forming the dough rings.


5cm cinnamon stick

4 whole cloves

4 star anise

4 tbsp caster sugar

200g peeled, deseeded and chopped 
pumpkin (or butternut squash)

200g peeled and chopped sweet potato

1 tsp easy bake yeast

1⁄2 tsp salt

300g strong white bread flour, 
plus extra for shaping vegetable oil, for frying



200g dark brown soft sugar

1 star anise

6 whole cloves

1 orange, peel only

1 pineapple, peel only


1. For the doughnuts, put the spices in a pan with 2 tbsp caster sugar, the pumpkin (or squash) and sweet potato. Cover with water, bring to the boil, and simmer until the pumpkin and potato are soft – about 8-10 minutes. Drain well (you want it as dry as possible) and discard the spices. Mash the vegetables (or transfer to a food processor or blender and whizz until smooth) and put in a large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in 2 tbsp warm water along with the remaining
2 tbsp sugar. Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes, until the mixture has started to develop a frothy head.

3. Add the salt and flour to the pumpkin and sweet potato, then add the yeast mixture. Beat together until you have
a smooth yet sticky dough; you can use the dough hook on a free-standing mixer if you prefer. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp tea towel and leave the dough to rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or
until it has doubled in size.

4. While the dough is proving, make the syrup. Put the brown sugar, spices and fruit peels in a saucepan and add about 300ml water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer until reduced to a thick syrup – about 35-40 minutes. Strain into a small bowl and keep warm; discard the solids.

5. If you have a deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 180°C. If not, pour the oil to a depth of about 5cm into a large, deep saucepan, making sure that it is no more than half full (you will need the doughnuts to be completely submerged, however). To test if the oil is hot enough, drop in a nugget of dough; if it sizzles and turns golden,
the oil is ready.

6. Meanwhile, using floured hands, form 6-8 balls of dough about 5cm in diameter and place on a lightly floured surface. Poke a hole in a doughnut with a finger and swivel, shaping it as needed, until the hole is about 4cm wide. Put it to one side while you shape the rest. Carefully drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, frying in small batches for about 1-2 minutes on each side; you should end up with dark golden brown, crisp doughnuts.

7. Remove the doughnuts from the oil and drain on kitchen paper. Serve drizzled with the warm syrup; put the rest of the syrup in a small bowl or jug, to serve alongside.

  • Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus standing, proving and cooling

  • Cooking time: 1 hours

Serves: 6 - 8

Nutritional Info

Typical values per serving:

Energy 1,812kj
Fat 14.5g
Saturated Fat 1.2g
Carbohydrate 69.9g
Sugars 38.2g
Protein 5.1g
Salt 0.4g
Fibre 2.1g

Per serving, serves 8

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