Basic Empanada Dough
This is my go-to empanada dough recipe. What I love about empanadas - and this basic dough recipe - is that they're easy, many of the ingredients are on-hand and you can fill them with just about anything. For example, filling empanadas with a leftover turkey dinner (or any dinner really, roast beef, shepherd's pie or even a casserole) is a great way to reuse last night’s dinner without feeling like you are eating the same meal, over and over again.
Although many traditional empanada recipes use lard as the fat, I find using butter gives the empanada’s a flakier, more pie-like crust. This recipe makes about 24 four-inch sized round empanadas or about 18 three by six-inch rectangular ones, but it can easily be halved for a more modest batch.
To keep the pie-like flakiness the key here is to keep everything cold, so work fast and handle as sparingly as possible! If you're are using a marble or ceramic rolling pin, a metal pastry blender or a metal bowl I would even go so far is to put them in the refrigerator for an hour beforehand, to keep everything nice and chilly.
This dough is made so much easier with a food processor. If you choose to use one it will be easier to split the ingredients into two batches. Follow the same directions as below, just substituting the food processor for your hands or pastry cutter.
Basic Empanada Dough
4 ½ cups of all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
3 teaspoons of salt
1 cup of chilled unsalted butter – cut into small cubes (after cutting you can arrange on a sheet of wax or parchment paper and place in the freezer to get it really cold – but leave for no more than 30 minutes)
2/3 cups of cold water (store in freezer while assembling the other ingredients to keep it cold, but don't let it freeze!)
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl.
Incorporate the chilled butter using fingers or pastry blender. At this stage, it's important not to overwork the butter. The mixture should be mealy with some generous lumps of butter remaining.
Whisk the eggs, chilled water and vinegar together and add to the flour-butter mixture, mixing sparingly with a large fork until just combined (or on low in a food processor). At this point, the mixture will look uneven and not completely combined – fret not, it will come together.
On a lightly floured surface turn out the mixture and knead gently about five times until the mixture just comes together. Form into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour, up to four hours.
Once the dough is ready, remove from the refrigerator and cut in half.
On a floured work surface roll dough out until it is about ¼ of an inch thick.
Cut into 6x6 inch squares (to make rectangular empanadas) or with a round 4 inch pastry cutter (to make half-moon shaped empanadas).
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons of tepid water
½ cup of room temperature water
Preheat oven to 350F (or as the recipe requires)
Place desired filling in the centre, brush edges with room temperature water, fold over and seal by either pinching with fingertips or with the prongs of a large fork.
Assemble on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let chill in refrigerator an additional 30 minutes.
At this point, you can freeze the assembled empanadas up to one month in a sealed container. When you want to cook them, simply pull them from the freezer, place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F. No defrosting required.
Once empanadas are chilled, brush with egg wash and place in oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.