Sunday, September 30, 2012

Daring Bakers: Empanada Gallega

September's Daring Bakers Challenge was an Empanada Gallega!  Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family's favorite recipes for Empanadas!  We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our empanadas as creatively as we wished!

I am a bit late with this post (was supposed to post on September 27) but I wanted to make the empanada anyway!  I have made empanadas before but they tended to use some sort of pie crust and though tasty, I could never get past the idea that I was eating a TON of pie crust with each piece.  So the idea of making my own empanada dough was too tempting to pass up!

Making the dough was downright simple!  The recipe is very straightforward and it creates a dough that is both tasty AND easy to work!  (Gotta love that combination!)

Empanada Gallega with Ground Beef
3 1/2 cups (500 gm) all-purpose or bread flour (I used bread flour)
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1/2 cup less 1 TB (100 ml) liquid fat  - oil, margarine, lard, etc.  (I used olive oil)
1 TB (15 gm) dry yeast or 1 oz (30 gm) fresh yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml)(6 gm) salt
1 teaspoon (3 gm) sweet paprika

Put the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle.  Add all of the ingredients.  If using fresh yeast, break it up as much as possible.  Mix with a wooden spoon until all of the ingredients have been incorporated.  Turn dough onto a floured board/counter and knead for 8 minutes.  Make a ball and place in an oiled bowl.  Allow to rise covered with a towel for about 1/2 hour before using. 

(make filling while dough is rising)

One risen, put the dough back onto a parchment covered, floured board/counter and divide it in half.  Cover one half with the towel to prevent drying.  Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling pin.  Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round shape with your dough.  Roll the dough to a thickness that depends on your filling and the amount of dough you like in each bite.  For your first time, make it about 3 mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch) and then adjust from there in the next empanadas you make.

adapted from The Best Simple Recipes, America's Test Kitchen
1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped fine
2 TB tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper

Cook beef and onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant.  Off heat, stir in cheese and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper.  Allow filling to cool before putting it on the empanada dough.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

If you used the parchment paper mentioned above, place it with your rolled out dough on a baking sheet.  Place the cooled filling on top, leaving about an inch of dough around the outside.  (Note:  the reason for using cooled filling is so that the bottom layer of the empanada doesn't get soggy!) 

Roll out the other half of the dough on a second flour-covered parchment paper.  This "top" dough needs only to cover the filling, so it will be smaller BUT THE SAME THICKNESS as the bottom dough.  This is a good opportunity to trim off some of your dough to use for decorating the top of your empanada!  Carefully flip your top dough over the filling and peel off the parchment paper. 

Using your fingers, join the bottom and top dough, pinching the top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half-way in.  This is how you end up with a rope-like border.  If you desire a video on this technique, check out  When the border is complete, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer of dough.  This helps hot air exit the empanada while baking.  Use the left over dough to decorate the empanada!

Prick the top layer of dough with a fork and cover with an egg wash.  Bake for 45 minutes.
Printable Recipe

As you can see in the photo above, my empanada opened up a little bit on the bottom edge, so my rope making skills were not spot-on.  Oh well!  The empanada itself was delicious!  The filling is very tasty, especially with the fresh cilantro.  The dough was great!  The flavor is really good, and that sweet paprika really makes it perfect.  I like the thickness I rolled, which was probably about the thickness of a quarter.  Though the dough recipe says it serves 6, and the filling recipe says it serves 4, I would say mine would serve 8! 

This seems like a long recipe but really it is quite simple.  The filling is made while the dough rises, so you could make this well in advance and just roll out the bottom layer when you are ready to bake!

Definitely a keeper for my family!  Many people in the Daring Bakers group made sweet empanadas, using fruit fillings, which is another great option!


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