Thursday, September 27, 2012

September Daring Bakers' Challenge - Empanada

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!

Well wouldn't you know, empanadas have been on my "hmm... I should try those one day!" list for a while! Now, I always thought of empanadas as, well, kind of like hand pies - small, individually sized meat, well, hand pies! Turns out, the empanadas that Patri shared with us were family-sized, made with yeasted dough, and filled with just about anything that you can imagine.

So the first decision came in trying to decide what I'd use as my filling. Me being me, all of my first thoughts were dessert. But then inspiration hit when I looked at my meal plan. The week after the challenge was announced, the first thing on the meal plan was Italian sausage, pepper and onion sandwiches. As I started pulling out the yeast and flour to make the rolls, I thought - hey! I could do the same meal, just in empanada form! So that's what I did.

Instead of making rolls, I used my yeast and flour to pull together the very simple empanada dough.  The dough calls for paprika. Taking inspiration from my filling, I used garlic powder instead.

As the dough rested, I prepped my filling - chopping onions and peppers and removing the casings from some sausages.

I then cooked up the filling in a large skillet...

...and constructed the empanada. About half of the dough is rolled out nice and thin and placed onto (and over the edges) of a baking sheet. The dough is then covered with the cooked filling. I topped half of the filling with thickly sliced provolone cheese, too, for some extra ooey-gooey goodness.

The other half of the dough is then rolled out and placed over top. The edges are sealed (I tried for a crimped pattern...). The top is then both decorated and vented.

And then it bakes!  The dough gets nice and golden, and the whole thing looks pretty fun.

And makes for a pretty tasty dinner!

But, me being me, I couldn't let the idea of a dessert empanada go.  All along, I'd been wanting to try an apple-pie inspired version, but the month kept slipping away from me. So I finally went for it last night. You heard me. Mere hours before this post had to go live.

The dough came together just as easily, though this time I used cinnamon as my spice of choice, and added in a touch of sugar to sweeten things up.

And for my filling? I wanted to go caramel-y with my apples. So I started with butter and brown sugar.


And then I set to peeling and slicing these.

And cooking them down in that delicious, caramel-y goodness.

Unfortunately, my four apples and one pear were not enough to fill my empanada. Which I didn't realized until all of my dough was rolled out and I was to the point of, well, filling it up. So I quickly had to peel and cut and ooey-gooey caramelize a few more apples and pears. But after that...

...we were good. And for the decoration this time?

I went with little miss's favorite - my old fairy design (remember that? from here? and here?). She requested that I add hair. And a face. The face didn't show up so well, but when it came out of the oven, she declared it a success, so that's all I could ask for.

Well, I could ask for a little more than that, but then she told me she loved it, and that answered that question. And it really is delicious - yummy fall goodness encased in flaky deliciousness.

I have to say - I was so pleased with this challenge. The dough was simple, but flaky and delicious, the possibilities are endless for delicious fillings, and it's fun to make and decorate, and share with family and friends!

Patri, thank you so much for sharing your family's dish with us and for being such a wonderful host!

To see the amazing, creative and gorgeous empanadas baked up in the kitchen this month, check them out here.

Empanada Dough
(a recipe using wheat flour from “La Empanada Gallega” as provided in the challenge)

3½ cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 cup warm water
½ cup less 1 tablespoon of liquid fat (I used canola oil)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (or garlic powder or cinnamon - depending on your filling!)

Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add all the ingredients.
Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been incorporated
Turn dough onto your counter and knead for 8 minutes
Make a ball and allow to rise covered with a cloth for about half an hour before using.
The rest of the steps are the same as with the first recipe.
You can also use knead this dough in a stand mixer - just reduce the kneading time to 5 minutes.

Prepare a filling of your choice.

When you are ready to prepare the empanada, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Divide the dough roughly in half.
Roll the larger piece on parchment paper to just-larger than a baking sheet. Place the dough, still on the parchment, onto the baking sheet. the dough will hang over the edges a bit.
Layer your prepared (and cooled) topping over the rolled out dough.

Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to approximately the same thinness of the base. You can use a piece of parchment 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.
Carefully transfer the top to the pan cover the filling by carefully moving the parchment to the pan, turning it over, then gently peeling 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 (or otherwise vent the top to go with whatever design you choose to make...) 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!
Bake the completed empanada for 45 minutes, until golden brown.



  1. Beautiful decoration! Great job on the challenge, you made two empanadas!

  2. Both versions sound amazingly delicious, Shelley! The decoration, as always, so cute!

  3. They're so cute! And they both sound delicious! Nice work.

  4. Gorgeous!!!!! I love the designs you chose on top, and both fillings sound awesome!! I wanted to do a dessert one, too (how fun to have a whole meal of empanadas!)!

  5. I love your changes in the seasoning for the dough. I enjoyed the paprika but your changes were great. The cinnamon I bet was fantastic. YUM! My boyfriend would love the apple one.

  6. wow! personalised empanada!!

  7. They look fantastic! Ooh, I really love the sound of your apple Empanada. Curling up with a slice, some tea and a book sounds like a perfect autumn activity. The sausage filling sounds great too. Ooey gooey cheese is always a winner!

  8. Wow Shelley, these both look great! I especially like the look of your apple empanada. Awesome job!

  9. Shelley, they are both lovely in "depth and form" ( "depth" for filling and "form" for decoration :-) ). I'm very glad you liked the recipe, you did a wonderful interpretation and I will be using your apple empanada recipe... and if you will allow me, your fairy decoration! I'm sure it will make my little one's day :-D. Congratulations!

  10. Beautifully done!
    I think the dessert empanada is going to be a theme :-)

  11. I bet the dessert empanada tasted - how shall I put it - celestial! Especially after you had to add more fruit. And the savoury one? Yum!

  12. Great job! They both look delicious and I love your decorations! I got lazy and just cut slits :)


  13. Both of these sound fantastic! Your fairy decoration is so adorable, too. Great work on this challenge!

  14. I love the fairy Shelley!
    My daughter is in love with fairies these days. Tinkerbelle and the gang are her friends and she would love a fairy pie

  15. your pies looks great! love how you personalized them :) and i'm adding your sausage, peppers and onions sandwiches to my meal plan this week :) thanks!


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