When most of us think of empanadas, we imagine little sweet pastry parcels filled with luscious fruit, dusted with powdered sugar and served with a dollop of snowy white whipped cream. At least, this is what has been served up to us; from various South American and Mexican restaurants to fast food joints. When I was in the process of making these wonderful pies, even my children were surprised when I told them “empanadas.” It seems here in the US, the only empanadas we know well are the little ones, sometimes savoury but mostly sweet.
What a delightful discovery it was when I learnt that empanadas are not always little, and not always sweet; thanks to the Daring Bakers Challenge this month.
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!
There are many kinds of empanadas with a myriad of sweet and savoury fillings that are served family style, that is; in the form of one big pie. The variety doesn’t stop with just the fillings. There are many variations of the pastry. The pastry shell can be a yeast dough, a cornmeal dough or a straight up pastry dough. I am sure by changing out the flour, we can get multigrain or even gluten free.
I chose to work with a yeast dough because I love yeast doughs. They are easy to work with and I always have the ingredients on hand. My filling was another “let’s look in the fridge and see what I’ve got” filling. It is an Indian style, squash, potato and sweet corn filling. Creamy and crunchy at the same time. The creaminess of the potatoes with the squash, is livened up by the crunchiness of fresh sweet corn. Some pleasant heat from some red cayenne powder and a fresh, homegrown cayenne ensures some excitement.
SPICY ZUCCHINI, POTATO AND CORN EMPANADA
3 zucchini/courgettes, peeled and sliced thin
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed, medium
2 cups fresh corn (frozen ok)
1 onion, diced fine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Canola oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 green chilli
salt and pepper
6 cups all purpose or bread flour
2 cups of warm water
3 teaspoons active, dry yeast
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
egg for egg wash
Start by making the dough and leaving it aside to rise.
Add the yeast and sugar to the warm water and leave aside.
Put the flour and salt into a bowl of a mixer and attach the dough hook.
Once the yeast is active and you see it frothy and foamy, add the olive oil.
Pour into the flour and start the mixer to make a dough.
Once the dough is nice and smooth, not too dry or wet, but elastic and smooth,
Put the ball of dough into an oiled bowl, cover and put aside to rise for an hour or so.
Meanwhile, make the filling.
In a fry pan or skillet, add the oil and heat on medium.
Add the onions and cook till soft and almost caramelised.
Add the garlic and ginger, and the spices.
Cook a little to heat up the spices a little.
Add the squash and potatoes.
Turn the vegetables around in the oil and spices till coated.
Add the water.
You can either cook the squash and potato on low, covered till the squash is very soft and the potato are cooked, about 20-30 minutes
Or cook in the pressure cooker for 5 minutes.
Cook down the mixture if there is too much liquid.
The mixture will thicken because of the potatoes, but you don’t want a runny mixture as a filling.
Add the corn and the green chilli.
Check for salt and pepper.
Add the cilantro.
Set aside to cool before rolling out and filling the empanada.
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
Prepare a pizza tray or baking sheet to bake empanada.
Once the dough has risen to double its size, it’s time to roll and fill.
Divide the ball of dough in half to make two smaller empanandas or make one big one with a thicker crust.
I made two with slightly thinner crusts, one with the spicy Indian filling and one with fresh, cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
Take one piece of the dough and divide in half again, one for the top crust and one for the bottom.
Roll out the dough into either a rectangle or a circular shape.
Place on the baking sheet.
Fill with the cooled filling.
Roll out the top crust and cover.
Seal the pie by twisting the dough around the edges in a decorative manner.
Cut a few slits on top and decorate with dough cutouts or rope designs.
Brush with the egg wash.
Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes, or till brown and crisp on top.
They were delicious and I have already had a request for more.
The choice of fillings are endless and you can let your imagination run wild. I am probably going to try a sweet one next. I have an apple tree full of ripe fruit.
Hope you all have a great weekend!