Sunday, September 30, 2012

Daring Bakers: Empanadas

I was quite pleased when I discovered that this month's Daring Baker's challenge was Empanadas. 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 was pleased because I love curry puffs and samosas: both variations of empanadas which has its origins in Portugal or Spain (depending on what source you  go to) and is popular (with slight variations) all over South America. And Asia!

Like Patri, curry puffs remind me of my childhood. They were on the menu at almost every family gathering and my mother used to make them for tea quite often. A crispy, deep-fried pastry with an often spicy filling of potatoes, green peas, carrots and onions. Sometimes (before we became vegetarian) she'd include minced chicken with the potatoes. They were delicious and because they were associated with happy times, curry puffs are still one of my ultimate comfort foods. 

Just for the fun of it, I made a giant empanada! Enough for lunch and dinner!
Empanadas are very similar to the puffs of my childhood. Except, the pastry is more bread-y. (Incidentally, I learnt that the word "empanada" comes from the Spanish verb "empanar" which means to wrap or cover with dough). I followed on of the recipes for the dough which Patri offered and it was an easy, painless process. The dough is oil-based and so it is extremely easy to handle (kneading wasn't as messy a process as it usually is for me) and roll. The original recipe called for a teaspoon of sweet paprika powder which I didn't have; instead I added a sprinkling of pepperoncino (Chilli flakes) which I bought in Italy where I was on holiday a couple of weeks ago (more travel tales at a later date). 

Empanadas are either fried or baked and I decided to stick to Patri's recipe and bake mine. For my vegetarian filling, I went for my all time favourites: mushrooms and cheese. How could I go wrong with these two, right? Actually, I had an ulterior motive for choosing mushrooms. I had fried some oyster mushrooms the day before and had quite a bit left over which I'd stored in my fridge. This seemed a perfect opportunity to re used them. All I did was add some cheese (Gruyere and Mozzarella) and chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper and I was good to go. 

The pastry turned out quite well. It was quite different from any pastry/bread I'd ever tried. It's like a nice mix of the two: crispy on the outside but slightly soft and chewy inside (which soaks up the juices of the filling quite well).

My filling was a little dry — perhaps the fried mushrooms weren't the best idea — but the pastries were tasty nonetheless. To compensate, I made a dipping sauce to accompany them. Since I only used half the dough (I froze the remaining half), I think I'd saute the mushrooms instead and mix in some caramelised onions. Oh yum. I can't wait.

Regular sized ones

Oh and here's another thing I learnt: empanadas aren't necessarily individual half-moon pockets (like the calzone/curry puff). In some parts of the world, empanadas are square and made for the family (much like a pie). Interesting stuff! I decided to stick to the half-moon pockets as I wanted to pass them on to friends to sample and the pockets would be much easier to handle when not at the dinner table.

Also, since my filling was less than stellar, I will only include the recipe for the dough. When I make the second batch, I will include a recipe for the filling!

To look at what the other Daring Bakers did for this challenge, go to the DK page here. You will be blown away by some of the creations. I know I was.

Empanada Dough
31/2 cups all purpose/bread flour
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup (minus 1 tbsp) oil
1 tsp salt
15 g (1 tbsp) dry active yeast
a sprinkling of red chilli flakes
1 egg, lightly beaten (or milk) to brush on the pastry before baking.

Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the remaining ingredients (EXCEPT the egg) and mixed till combined. Turn the dough onto the counter and knead for about 8 mins. Place in an oiled bowl, cover an let it rest and rise for about 30 mins.

Once rested, turn the dough onto your work surface and roll it thin (the thicker your dough, the more chewy your empanada. Patri recommends the dough be rolled to about 3mm thick.)

Using a circular cutter, cut circles from the sheet of dough. Place the filling in the bottom half of the circle, leaving about a tiny border to seal the edges. Fold the top half over the filling and seal, crimping the edges with your fingers or a fork.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Chill the empanadas for about 20 mins (this will help ensure they don't split open in the oven). Brush with the egg and bake for 20-30 mins till golden. Make sure the bottom is cooked before taking them out.


  1. Wow, I love the filling you used. Sorry to hear it wasn't as tasty as expected but from here I can almost smell it :) I might have added a touch of garlic, but I just love garlic and mushrooms together :) Glad you liked the recipe, and that it brought back memories too! Congratulations on your challenge!

    1. yes! Garlic! lol. that would have been a nice addition :) Thanks and I really had a lot of fun making this.

  2. Looks really lovely - great job!


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