For as long as I could remember, my mom would bake empanadas during the holidays. The ones I remember the most were filled with pumpkin, pineapple or dulce de leche filling. When I got married and moved far away from home, I would receive these wonderful Christmas packages from my mom filled with gifts, Mexican cookies, and of course empanadas. I was never able to tell my mom how much those boxes filled with goodies and lots of love meant to me. The two dough recipes I am going to share with you have been in my family for many, many years and I proudly share them with you today. Thanks, Mom.
Recipe 1- Basic Empanada Dough Prepared with Milk and Eggs
For the Dough:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
* to make this recipe a sweet version, add 1/3 of sugar and pinch of cinnamon to the dry ingredients
1. In a large bowl, sift all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hand or a pastry cutter, cut the lard in until it broken down, set aside.
2. Whisk the eggs and milk together and gradually add them into the dry ingredients until dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, adding a little more flour to make a soft dough. Cover and chill for one hour. This dough will make 15 large empanadas or 30 small empanadas.
These are sweet filled empanadas using the recipe above. After brushing them with some egg wash, I sprinkle them with some turbinado sugar.
Recipe 2- Sweet Mexican-Style Empanada Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup shortening
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup water
1/2 cup fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1. Sift the flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add 1 cup shortening and work in with hands or pastry cutter until you have small crumbles.
2. Heat the water for 3 minutes in the microwave. Add the sugar and anise seeds, stir until sugar has dissolved. To the flour mixture, mix in the egg until well incorporated. Gradually add in the water mixture a little at a time until dough forms. You may not end up using all of the water. If it seems too dry, add a little more water as you knead dough for 5 minutes.
3. When ready, roll 24 dough balls. Place in bowl or on a plate, cover and let set for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. Line a tortilla press with a plastic storage bag, cut down to size.
5. Before pressing dough ball, knead it for about 30 seconds and shape it back into a flat disc. Press one disc at a time to a 3 1/2 to 4 inch circle. The edges will look slightly jagged. Fill with about 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over, pinch edge and fold over to seal. Do not over-fill. Do this all the way over the opening to seal. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then place under broiler to brown the tops a little. Just about 1 minute. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute. While they are still warm, gently dredge through cinnamon/sugar mix. Yields 24 small empanadas.
Above, a few of the sweet, filled empanadas I have prepared in the past, pumpkin, blueberry and mango drizzled with chocolate.
Recipe 3-Savory Empanada Dough Prepared with Beer:
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup shortening, melted
6 ounces cold light beer
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
1 egg, plus 2 tablespoons of water, whisk and set aside (egg wash)
1. For Savory Dough: In a large glass bowl, melt the shortening in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cold beer, salt and baking powder, stir gently. Gradually add in the flour until dough forms and is no longer sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
2. Make 18 to 20 dough balls, cover with plastic to keep moist. On a flat, lightly floured surface roll out one dough ball at a time. Fill with your favorite savory, cooked filling (about 2 tablespoons). Fold over and use your fingers to pinch and seal. Brush with egg wash and bake in 375-degree preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
The savory empanadas prepared with beer above are filled with chicken and brushed with egg wash, the result is a light and flaky dough.
Tips: It’s best to always line your baking sheets with parchment paper, just in the case that some of the filling leaks out. Let the empanadas cool completely before storing. The sweet empanadas can be left at room temperature for 3 days. The savory ones should be refrigerated and can be reheated in a dry nonstick (low/medium heat) pan or in the oven. And the best tip of all is that the savory dough recipe can also be used for sweet empanadas! It can be baked or fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar, it’s amazing.