A 3 course empanada feast…
Makes enough for one large empanada, 2 medium-sized empanadas or 12 empanadillas
500g all-purpose (plain) or bread flour
240ml warm water
100ml olive oil
1 sachet dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp sugar
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water, for egg wash
2 tbsp sugar extra for a sweet empanada
Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the water, oil, yeast, salt and sugar (plus extra sugar, if making a sweet dough). Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been incorporated
Turn dough out and knead by hand for about 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
Make a ball and allow to rise, covered with a cloth, for about an hour.
Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter. For an empanada, cut it in half and roll each half of the dough using a rolling pin to fit the shape of your baking dish. You can use a piece of wax paper on the counter to make it easier to move the dough around. For empanadillas, you’ll need to roll 12 small rounds. For either method, cover the dough you aren’t using to prevent it from drying out.
Spinach and cheese empanadillas
Makes 12 empanadillas.
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp chilli powder
200g fresh spinach, stems removed, washed and chopped
1 cup ricotta
200g mozzarella, grated
2 tbsp parmesan, grated
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli powder and sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant but not browned. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted. Remove from heat. Stir the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and cooked spinach together. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 190°C.
Pull off pieces of dough to make 12 balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on lightly floured surface into circles about 20cm across. Don’t make the circles too thin because they can split and leak melted cheese everywhere.
Place 2 tbsp of filling in the centre of each dough circle. Fold over and press edges firmly to seal. Use the tines of a fork to pinch the edges tightly.
Place empanadas on baking sheet lined with parchment, brush with egg wash and bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. You’ll need to increase the baking time if using two baking sheets, swapping them a couple of times during baking.
I had originally planned to do roasted Mediterranean veggies in this one, but we had had them for dinner the night before so instead I loosely based this filling on what I put in Mexican empanaditas once a long time ago. I made a half recipe of the dough for this empanada as I only wanted a medium one. You could add cheese to this, perhaps some grated mature cheddar, but we were having another course that was cheesy, so I opted not to add any.
400g potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup sweetcorn
1 red pepper (capsicum), diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sweet paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a pie dish or line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside (I found a pie dish worked better because it holds in the filling well).
Steam the potatoes until just tender, about 10 minutes.
Heat a dash of olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the potatoes, peas, sweetcorn and pepper and cook over medium-low heat until everything is softened, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir through the tomato paste, paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
Roll out half the dough to line the pie dish with a bit of overhang, or just lay the rolled dough on the parchment. Spread the vegetable filling evenly over the base.
Roll out the other half of the dough and place over the top of the filling. Using your fingers, join the two layers of dough by rolling and pinching the seam around the edges. When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top. Decorate as desired. Using a fork, prick the top all over, then brush with egg wash.
Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until golden.
Sweet raspberry ricotta empanada
I was racking my brain trying to come up with something vaguely original for a dessert empanada and thought raspberries would make a good filling. I researched a few different custards that I thought might hold up to being baked in a pie without turning the bottom crust into a soggy mess and eventually settled on this ricotta custard from frugalantics. I made a half recipe of the dough for this empanada as I only wanted a medium one.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sugar extra, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a pie dish or line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat together ricotta, eggs, flour and sugar.
Roll out half the dough to line the pie dish with a bit of overhang, or just lay the rolled dough on the parchment – mine was about 30cm x 20cm. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the base and scatter the berries over the top.
Roll out the other half of the dough and place over the top of the filling. Using your fingers, join the two layers of dough by rolling and pinching the seam around the edges. When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top. Decorate as desired. Using a fork, prick the top all over, then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, until golden.