Thursday, September 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' September 2012 Challenge: 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!

When I first read of this challenge I thought empanadas were only the sweet kind, since the ones my mouth knew were the cinnamon sugar packets laden with apple pie filling eaten from authentic (?) Mexican restaurants. Oh how limited my life is!

After an actual bite of this savory, filled pastry, it reminded me of an appetizer rather cozy to my own domestic tastes. My faithful friend (Wiki) failed me not in bringing me up to speed on empanada history. This is what he had to say, "Empanadas trace their origins to Galicia and Portugal.  In turn, empanadas and the similar calzones are both believed to be derived from the Indian meat-filled pies, samosa." (a-ha, I knew it). Wiki goes on to state, "all these pastries, in turn have common origins in the Middle East and Central Asia". So you see, the whole wide world isn't as wide and spread across as we think. Because if you eat what I eat, essentially we live in one big, globally blended kitchen. Sounds fantastic, huh?

While the samosa is fried and made without yeast, empanadas are a baked appetizer. Though, with the bake off of my last batch, I just could not resist finishing up the imperfect five  few which made for today's dandy lunch. So yes, you could healthily plate one or two, along with a side of salad, rounding it off as a significant meal.
Traditionally, this assumes the likeness of a giant pie with the full amount of filling tucked between two large sheets of dough. I decided it would be a time saving move and cuter option to form several mini-pies from my dough rectangles. With leftover ground turkey in my freezer, and a pack of mushrooms that has seen better days, I whipped up my seasoned filling. Hence the debut of my spiced turkey and mushroom empanada.
I must say these were fantastic, where eating just the one could be outright impossible. The bread pastry was sturdy firm, having the give of a nice flaked crunch. And with no dearth for filling elements, I see gleeful empanada making opportunities cast for my future.

( Dough recipe adapted from the Daring Bakers' Challenge Page; Filling recipe, my own.)

  • 5 ⅓ c bread flour
  • 2 c of lukewarm water (about 85°F), approximately
  • 1 tbsp dry yeast or fresh yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil( to oil the bowl) 
  • 1 large egg, for egg wash
My artwork turned a bit wayward here :) Those were supposed to be the initials of we four, though with holes poked and juices oozing, they just look like sticks glued together.

  • Sift the flour into a big bowl and make a well in the middle. Rub the yeast in with your fingers. In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt.
  • Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, start adding the water and mixing it with the flour-yeast mixture. Keep on working with your fingers or spoon until you have added enough water and all the flour has been incorporated and you have a shaggy ball of dough.
  • On a clean counter top, knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes
  • You could do all the above using a stand mixer, in that case, mix the ingredients with the paddle attachment until mixed and then switch to a dough hook and knead on low for about 6 minutes.
  • Clean and oil the big bowl you used for mixing and place the kneaded dough in it. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and keep it in a warm, draught-free place for approximately 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.
  • Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling pin. You can use a piece of wax paper over the counter, it will make it easier to move the dough around. Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round.
  • Roll it to about 1/10th of an inch.

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 medium onion, chopped 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp cumin 
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • ½ c sliced button mushrooms, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tsp salt or enough to flavor
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ c crumbled feta cheese
  • In the meanwhile, when waiting for dough to rise, heat oil in a large skillet and saute onions, garlic over medium heat until onions are limp, not brown and both ingredients are cooked through, about 3- 5 minutes.
  • Add jalapenos, red chili flakes, coriander powder, cumin and ground turkey. Stir to combine well. 
  • Stir in mushrooms.
  • Allow meat mixture to simmer on medium- high heat, uncovered for about 3-4 minutes( the meat and the mushrooms will release some liquid for the meat to cook in). 
  • After the moisture is nearly all evaporated, let it fry itself in its own rendered fat till done .
  • Add salt and pepper. Stir in feta and combine.
  • Allow to cool completely.
Assembling the Empanada~
    • Preheat oven to 400°F.
    • Prepare pan by ightly dusting with flour your pan or baking tray. If you're using wax paper, line the baking sheet with it.
    • Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.
    • Place the filling, making sure all the base is covered. 
    • Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base. You can use a piece of wax paper for this too. Take into account that this “top” dough needs to be smaller around than the bottom, as it only needs to cover the filling.
    • If not using wax paper, move carefully the top to cover the filling. If using wax paper, transfer the dough, turn upside down, cover the filling and gently peel off the wax paper.
    • Using your fingers, join bottom and top dough, when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half way in, that way you end up with a rope-like border.
    • When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. This will help hot air exit the empanada while it’s baking without breaking the cover.
    • You can use left-over dough to decorate the empanada, using rounds, bows, lines… let your imagination flow and make it pretty.
    • Using a fork, prick the top layer or, using scissors, make snips that go all the way through the top layer.
    • In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash. 
    • Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done.
    Patri's note ~ Using a hot filling will make the bottom layer of the empanada become soggy. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as “dry” as possible.

    My notes~

    *As mentioned above I made several small empanadas. I rolled out my dough to 1/8" thick and cut out several 4 inch circles. I then placed a tablespoonful of the filling on one side of a circle. Finally I folded the dough over the filling to make a half moon shape and pinched the edges together to seal tightly.

    *I switched the position of my baking trays, halfway though and then let bake for 20-25 minutes till golden brown.

    Especial with this recipe is the culinary elbowroom it affords. You can get as creative as you want with  filling ingredients, preparation of dough, even the flour you use in making the pastry. 

    Through this, I see clearly that food like music is beyond limitless, carrying in its flavorful flow, cultures, traditions and tastes. Through these Daring Challenges, I am so grateful for the fun opportunities to make the food of so many diverse cultures, which makes foodspeak a most unifying language. The creating of cuisine curiosity breeds interest in our hearts, and  the love of food keeps our hands busy, our mouths happy and our tummies well satisfied. 

    Thank you Patri for this very special challenge. Not only was I wowed by the truly good savory empanada, but also it's kinship to India's beloved samosa.

    "as far as the east is from the west,
        so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12


    1. wow..Irresistible one,am shifting there near ur house to have all these wonderful goodies:)
      Join my ongoing EP events-Oregano OR Paprika @ Foodomania

      1. Maybe I should come there :)) Thanks Julie

    2. They are so cutely shaped my friend and deliciously filled :D great job!

      Choc Chip Uru

    3. That first picture made me hungry and it is only 9 am and I have just had breakfast
      love the colors and they styling
      The filling is wonderful too with those warming spices.
      Great job as always Tisa

      1. Thanks Sawsan, you are always too kind :))

    4. oh tisa ur hands are so perfect.. these goodies are very tempting... I just want to pick a few out of that snap :)

      1. Thank you Reshmi. Knowing how perfect your skills are, you can reproduce these to an even a finer status.

    5. What a fantastic appetizer or grab-and-go treat! I can certainly see how difficulty it would be to eat only one ;) Thanks for sharing!



    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!