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!

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

Leave a comment


  1. How creative is that !!! Absolutely gorgeous !! I want to have that now !!!
    Great job !! Cheers !!

  2. Decoration is beautiful!

  3. Your empanada is absolutly lovely, I think it’s the prettiest I’ve seen!

  4. I really want to try this one!

  5. Adriana @FoodCocktail

     /  September 27, 2012

    What an autumn look your empanada has! Very nice!

  6. The autumn decoration is VERY creative!

  7. What a very beautiful empanada – very autumnal! I always cheat and make mine with pastry but you have pushed me into action – time to make the proper dough. And now I´m off to check out the website you mentioned :)

  8. Oh my… I can’t stop looking at your lovely work of art, Sawsan. As always you have done and amazing job on the challenge!

  9. What a work of art! It looks beautiful and delicious! I love empanadas!

  10. While I am very familiar with the empanada……..I must say that I have never seen one quite as beautiful as yours. You are a true artist.

  11. Gorgeous!!!!!
    Beautiful design and presentation, got to make this for my kids when they come to viisit.

  12. I love the design on this it looks absolutely beautiful :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  13. Loved the idea of making a single big one – back in Brazil, (even though empanadas are not Brazilian), they are always made in single servings. I love empanadas, the dough has a very unique consistency. I don’t remember last time I had one, but it’s been over 20 years for sure!

    what a sorry statement that is… ;)

    • I have never had an empanada before Sally. We have similar pastry here called fatair which are basically pastry dough stuffed with different fillings but the idea of a single big stuffed dough sounded really interesting

  14. saffronandhoney

     /  September 27, 2012

    You made it look gorgeous as usual! Looks delicious.

  15. What a beautiful design on top!

  16. I love empanadas and this dough looks so absolutely yeasty and delicious and so golden brown when taken out of the oven. Yummmy!!!

  17. Look at that gorgeous and artistic crust! This is beautiful Sawsan. I love empanadas. I had one the other evening and I would gladly trade that one for yours!

  18. Gosh, I haven’t had an empanada in ages! They’re really great – the filling can be quite spicy. and it combines so well with the pastry crust. Speaking of which, yours looks great! Yours is so decorative – very attractive.

  19. I don’t blame your kids for sneaking those gorgeous, flake leaves right off the top :) And I had to laugh, because I have so done that – realizing I forgot an ingredient as the meal goes into the oven :) But it worked out beautifully, and your empanada turned out GORGEOUS. Truly a work of art!!

  20. Sawsan, you’re a marvel. That empanada looks incredible! I wouldn’t want to cut into it. And the seasonings sound in perfect balance, none so overbearing as to “obliterate” the others. Way to respond to the challenge! Well done.

    • You are too kind John. If it was up to me I wouldn’t cut into it but the kids picked half the leaves before I finished taking pictures lol.
      I loved that about the filling. It was harmonious. Nothing overpowering or standing out

  21. It is beauteous Sawsan! I had to come here first because I knew you’d do an A class job with this one. Challenge well done, my friend.

  22. I’m just blown away by the amazing artistry of your empanada. Even the border around the dish is lovely and, I’m assuming you have a half circle cut out because no one could make so many identical cut outs to transform into leaves. :)

    As to the filling, I’m leery of trying olives so this very traditional filling for empanadas, including the raisins and hard boiled eggs, have always kept me from giving it a try. I make a very tasty beef filling for my jamaican beef patties that I could use in the empanadas but then I should just make the regular patties. You can see my dilemma, I’m sure. I DID try a sweet empanada version with apple pie filling. I’ve bought sweet cheese ones in a Mexican grocery store so I know it’s not a new innovation. They also have pineapple ones.

    • Thank you Maria :)
      I did indeed make half circle cut outs :)
      I was really looking forward to trying a sweet apple filling but ran out of time. Maybe I will later this month.
      Maybe you can try a Chicken filling or a vegetarian one with spanish flavors?

      • A chicken version would definitely be a possibility. Thank you for the suggestion.

  23. evelyn

     /  September 27, 2012

    Beautiful…a tree of life empanada!!
    I love the filling ideas too.

  24. I have always had empanadas in a pastry crust, rather than a yeasted dough. I like the seasonings in your beef filling.

  25. These look absolutely delicious, very keen to try!! Beautiful photographs!

  26. This Empanada should make it to the Empanada Hall of Fame or at least the cover of Bon Appetit Sawsan! It is truly breathtaking and I can’t believe how incredibly talented you are. The flaky crust and delicious sounding filling is just making me desperately wish I could have a slice (or maybe two!). You are just a wonder and make me smile. Take care!

  27. what a beautiful dinner!

  28. Your autumnal tree decoration is so beautiful, Sawsan! What a gorgeous idea. I think the filling sounds great. I can definitely see how a bit of sweetness would play well off the savoury beef.

  29. I had a hard time getting into this challenge but seeing your empanada on the forum got me inspired. Totally gorgeous Sawsan!

  30. Gorgeous and delicious, the perfect combination! I love how you decorated your empanada, I’d never seen anything like it before and… I’m in love :-) Thank your for taking your time to try the recipe, and for being an inspiration for us. Congratulations on your challenge!

  31. Beautiful empanada, I love your decoration!

  32. Wow, you did a BEAUTIFUL job decorating your empanada. Gorgeous!

  33. Eha

     /  September 28, 2012

    The decoration you have so artistically created here is just beautiful! I guess I do feel ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, as similar dishwide covered pies methinks are part and parcel of every cooking style around the world. Northern European born and early bred as you know, all of us kids loved when such regularly came out of the oven: the fave in my childhood was cabbage/hardboiled egg + herbs etc or a highly flavoured carrot one: actually not bad for today’s health conscious world :) !

    • I know what you mean. There are indeed many similar recipes around the globe with mild differences in the dough , filling or seasoning. Speaking of which, I have never heard of a carrot filling before. Do you have a recipe for that?

  34. Omg this is just beautiful. We have a local version of this with a beef filling that also has , raisins, olives and capers so your filling choices do not seem at all strange to me…..our version is not quite as pretty as this though!

  35. You are too much! Look at that beautiful design you did for the top of this empanada. Just absolutely gorgeous! This empanada looks delicious and I do love the filling! The addition of the raisins was a smart idea! I love adding raisins to dishes for that bit of natural sweetness. Great challenge!

  36. flavorsofthesun

     /  September 28, 2012

    Wow, Sawsan, how beautiful is that? I could never have come up with that and am in awe. Love the recipe as well.

  37. Fantastic empanada and I especially liked decoration! Beautiful!!! :)

  38. Wow, that’s so pretty, I’d want to keep looking at this masterpiece for a long time, before I give in to the ‘eat it’ nerves! ;)

  39. Rasha

     /  September 28, 2012

    Simply Genius!!

  40. You are making me hungry with this empanada especially when I saw the stuffing. Very beautifully and creatively done. Very nice, Sawsan! Have a very nice weekend to you and your loved ones, Sawsan! :)

  41. Sawsan, your empanada looks so beautiful, I would hesitate to eat it! :) Isn’t it interesting to “travel” the world with filled pastry recipes?!

  42. Gorgeous job on your empanada! I love the beautiful tree decoration you made on top, truly lovely! And your filling sounds wonderful, too!

  43. Hi Sawsan,
    You have such a beautiful job of decorating this. Looks delicious!

  44. My mom had a Chilian friend and she taught us how to make empanadas; we loved them. Your recipe with the olives (we used black) and the raisins (sultanas) reminded me of this recipe! My mom always made them small half circles do we could have one or two as a snack! Or as hors d’œuvres! Delightful. I haven’t made them in years, but you’ve reminded me to do so! Thanks
    We’re just back from a little over two weeks in Europe so I’m catching up commenting.

  45. Now you’re just showing off. Look at how beautiful that is. I’m sure it tasted as good as it looked.

  46. I shouldn’t be surprised but that is the most beautiful empanada that I have ever seen. The way you decorated it reminds me of two things….first the tree of life, secondly the fall season that I am experiencing now in New Hampshire as leaves are changing color and slowily falling to the ground.

  47. Such a beautiful empanada! And I’m sure it was yummy too. The filling is very similar to the one we make in Argentina, except we make the hand pie version, with a regular crust.

  48. I love the pattern in your empanada.
    In the Philippines it is smaller in size, handheld but recipe is nearly the same

  49. Absolutely gorgeous, Sawsan. the filling sounds amazing too! never made an empanda myself but i’m so inspired too.

  50. thelady8home

     /  October 1, 2012

    You are an artist Sawsan!! What an incredible empanada!!!! Love it. Absolutely love it. And to decorate it that way – it’s a master stroke. Wonderful!!!!

  51. i love how you did this! The design rocks but I love the way you made the empanadas in one whole pan. We usually make them individually but this is totally new and creative

  52. I love the idea of your kids munching on the leaves, and what a beautiful piece of work. I can see many possibilities in the filling too.. Lovely work sawson and i hope all is well with you! love c

  53. Oh, Sawsan..you are an artist..I love the top crust tree on your gallega – it’s gorgeous! Almost too pretty to eat..’almost’…because it looks juicy, flaky and delicious! BTW..I love labna too! It was similar to making labna, and tasted similar..outside the goat milk flavor :)

  54. Wow !! U r so artistic, I love the bread !! I did mini ones and loved the challenge !

  55. ¡Qué rica! :)

  56. marilyn kennedy

     /  October 8, 2012

    AS I get ready for our Canadian Thanksgiving and also being so thankful for everything! Thank you for your lovely blog .. Thought you’d enjoy this.. Making my pumpkin pies this morning! so delicious! To you my internet friend!! Enjoy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80ZrUI7RNfI&feature=colike

  57. juanitascocina

     /  October 10, 2012

    This is simply gorgeous!

    I have spent all of this evening enjoying your beautiful blog. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful posts.

  58. Jessen

     /  January 7, 2013

    Wow! You are so talented. I so wish I had your skills with dough! Have a Great week =)

  59. dea malallah

     /  July 25, 2013

    wow,,@@ great,,i love it!

  60. Jourdan

     /  August 11, 2014

    This is gorgeous!! I am truly inspired by your cooking. Thank you for sharing this!!

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