Empanada Gallega

baked fall 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!

Empanada (or empada, in Portuguese) is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Western Europe, Latin America, and parts of Southeast Asia. The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese and Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.The filling for empanada can vary meat, chicken, cheese, fruit and vegetables. It is really up to your taste and preference and there is plenty of room for creativity.

I love working with yeasted dough so this challenge was a pleasant surprise. The dough recipe was easy to handle and wonderful to work with. After baking it became fluffy and soft. My kids actually started picking the leaves off and snaking on them as I was taking pictures!

The filling I tried was a beef filling with a few twists that sounded crazy, namely raisins and boiled eggs but if you are not daring and adventurous on a daring bakers challenge, you never are! The filling was a huge success despite the fact that I forgot to add the eggs, I only saw the egg slices setting on my counter after I placed the empanada in the oven! The oregano and cumin gave it a Mexican twist. The olives added a new and interesting flavor, the raisins gave a hint of pleasant sweetness that you couldn’t really pin point. Add a chewy , fluffy bread wrapping and you’ve got a recipe that you know you’ll be making again and again.

Empanada gallega

Servings: 10 – (makes a  40cmx30cm square empanada or about a 35cm diameter round empanada).

The filling may sound a bit strange at first, but that’s until you taste it

Dough Ingredients:

5-1/3 cups (1280 ml) (750 gm)  flour

2 cups (480 ml) of lukewarm water

1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast

2 teaspoons (10 ml) (11 gm) salt

4 tablespoons (60 ml) oil

1 large egg, for egg wash

Dough Directions:

Measure out all the ingredients.

Sift the flour into a big bowl and make a well in the middle.

In a small bowl, mix the water, yeast and sugar and wait for the yeast to foam (2-5 minutes)

Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, start adding the yeast water 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 messy ball of dough.

On a clean counter top, knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes

Place the kneaded dough in an oiled bowl. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and allow it to rise in a warm place

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.

Now, the thinness of the dough will depend on your choice of filling and how much bread you like in every bite.

Beef filling

from epicurious.com

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 pound ground beef chuck

2 tablespoons raisins

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped  olives

1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice, and chopped


Saute the onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened.

Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps until done.

Add raisins, olives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes  then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist,

Spread on a plate to cool.

Assembling the empanada

Either lightly flour or line  your pan or tray with parchment paper.

Cover the base and sides with the dough.

Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. 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.

Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.

Start preheating your oven to moderate 350°F/180ºC/gas mark 4.

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 you are planning on making the tree shape, using a sharp knife cut out the shape of the trunk and branches. Keep in mind that doing this means you have to be extra careful transferring the dough to the pan because if it stretches, you will lose the shape or even tear the dough, doing it on wax paper really helps

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.

This is one situation when a picture is worth a thousand words, please watch this video that Patri made to see how it is done: http://youtu.be/CNpB7HkTdDk

You can use left-over dough to decorate the empanada, using rounds, bows, lines… let your imagination flow and make it pretty!

I rolled some of the left over dough into a rope, folded it in half and then twisted it to form the trunk of the tree. Then I did it again but made the dough rope thinner and made the branches.

I rolled out another part of the left over dough and cut out leaf shapes out of it and used egg wash to glue them onto the top

In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of vinegar. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.

Place the empanadas in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done

Place under the broiler for a few minutes till the top is golden brown

Thank you Patri for a wonderful challenge :) Emapanada is a recipe that is going into my regular rotation and I can’t wait to try out all the different fillings