This is a beautiful, easy to work with slightly lean dough Empanada Dough. You can see how gorgeous and flaky this dough bakes up by the photos of my Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas. And you can see it has the classic “giraffe-like” pattern that I was told is one of the tells of a great empanada dough.
That’s something you don’t see that often anymore since so many empanadas these days are made all or partly by machine or with store-bought wrappers. Sometimes I wish I could buy store-bought wrappers (I’d be eating Empanadas all the time) but honestly, this dough is so easy it can be knocked out in just about no time.
About Empanada Dough:
First of all, this Empanada dough makes 12 five-inch rounds of dough (you’ll need to use the scraps) each about 1/8th of an inch in thickness. That’s the perfect amount of dough to use for a filling of about four cups, 1/3 of a cup of filling in each empanada.
It’s a “just right” size for plating, or even better, eating out of hand. (And by the way, it’s the perfect amount of Empanada wrappers if you want to make my Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas as your filling. Traditional dough – not traditional filling. They’re insanely good!)
It’s nice to know those details so you don’t end up with leftover empanada wrappers or leftover filling. It’s also nice because one of the standard size scoops is 1/3 of a cup. Gotta love anything that makes making a heritage recipe like this a bit easier! Grandma may have knocked these out all the time, but it’s likely that most of us can use any bit of help we can get!
The steps in photos:
Making Empanada Dough:
This is an all butter dough, which is tasty; if you’d like, you can use lard instead. That will give you both taste & texture. Just sub in the same amount.
The really important thing about this Empanada dough is to not overwork it. Seriously, just smoosh it three times and stop. Then gently incorporate any dry areas. As you roll it, the chunks of butter will flatten out and form “sheaves” inside the dough, and that will give you the flaky layers. It’s basically the same idea as puff pastry only on a much smaller scale because you’ll have layer after layer of butter. It will be clearly visible in the dough.
Saving Money on Empanada Dough:
Shop carefully for your baked goods, especially your butter which dollar for dollar, is really the priciest baked good. If you have an Aldi it’s a great place to pick up butter; better even than your buyer’s club and Aldi every day prices beat ut even the best grocery store sales prices. If you don’t have either option, stock up on your butter during holiday sales when it is often half price. Stock up and freeze it until needed.
You can pretty much use the same strategy for flour and sugar. Freeze flour or any items containing flour for three days as soon as you bring them in the house. That will help you avoid any “peskies” that might be lurking.
- Total Time: 25 minutes + chill
- Yield: 12 empanada wrappers 1x
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup very cold butter, cut into small chunks
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon vinegar (or Vodka)
- A glass of ice water; you’ll use a third of a cup, perhaps more
Add flour and salt to a bowl, whisk together. Add the butter, tossing to separate the pieces and coat them with flour. Working by hand, pinch the pieces of butter into the flour, forming a good amount of larger flat pieces the size of a nickel or so as well as smaller bits.
Mix egg and milk together. Measure 1/3 a cup of the ice water and a tablespoon of vinegar and add to egg mixture and very quickly (you don’t want to coddle the milk with the vinegar) drizzle the egg/milk/vinegar/water mixture over the flour while tossing with a fork until mostly incorporated.
Turn out on a counter and rub across the mixture two or three times with the heel of your hand, smooshing it as you go. By now, the pastry should be mostly coming together with a few dry areas. Work on those areas by pinching and pushing them into the dough. If necessary add a few sprinkles of water to moisten. The dough should “feel” fairly dry and there may be a few bits that aren’t well incorporated. You should see chunks of butter, through-out.
Gather the dough together into a pile, gently flatten into a squarish shape, wrap in parchment paper or plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Overnight is fine, too, and wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for a day or two or frozen for 1 month. If refrigerated more than an hour, leave the dough at room temperature for 5 to 20 minutes before rolling out.
On a floured work surface, roll out the dough, from the center to edges, 1/8″ thick. Cut into five-inch rounds. You’ll need to reroll the scraps, but to keep them tender, layer them on top of one another, cover with a clean damp cloth and let the rest a few minutes. You can fill the others as you wait. Then just roll the scraps out; the dough should stick together just fine.
Cover the rolled out rounds with a damp cloth as you fill the Empanadas.
For filling and baking, please see my Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanada post.