One of my favorite fall memories as a child was getting off the bus from school and smelling something baking in the air, knowing that it could only be one thing: Pumpkin Empanadas! The memory is so special to me that every September, I bake a batch or two using my Momma’s recipe.
Empanadas are a traditional Mexican dessert, and though they are similar to the American hand pie, they are typically less sweet. The crust is also more tender and dense rather than light and flaky which makes them feel (almost) like a healthy snack rather than a dessert. I also find pumpkin empanadas to be a perfectly suitable breakfast option. 🙂
Looking for a new fall tradition? Then strap on an apron, put on some baking music and prepare a batch of these. They are sure to create memories and smiles.
In a large mixing bowl, dump:
- 3 cups of flour
- 1 Tablespoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whisk well to combine and toss in 1/2 cup cold shortening or lard (preferred when making Mexican desserts!) and cut into flour until the mixture is the texture of sand.
Pour in a scant 3/4 cup of cold water and stir in one direction until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is still dry and crumbly after a few turns of the spoon, add a tablespoon of water and stir again.
Cook’s Note: I know you’ve got enough to worry about right now, but try not to overwork the dough. 🙂
Dump dough onto a work surface and lightly knead a couple times into a smooth ball, incorporating all of the crumbs in the bowl.
Dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky.
Place back in bowl and cover with a towel to keep the dough from drying out. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
While you wait, prepare the following:
- In a small bowl, beat one small egg with 1 teaspoon water until smooth
- In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups of pumpkin puree with 1/3 cup granulated sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.
Cook’s Note: Canned pumpkin works perfectly, but homemade pumpkin or butternut squash puree is equally delicious. Just make sure it is well-drained.
At this point, preheat your oven to 425˚.
Divide dough evenly into 12 balls. Roll one ball on a lightly floured surface into a 5-6″ circle.
Have difficulty achieving good circles when rolling out pastry? Here’s my tip:
Before rolling, flatten all of the dough balls into even circles with your fingers. This will allow you to manipulate the shape better.
To form the pumpkin empanadas, place 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of the dough circle.
Cook Note: Don’t be tempted to add more filling or it will ooze out and bust your pies open.
Fold dough in half over the filling and press edges together. Next, fold the edges up and in and crimp with the tines of a fork.
Finally, create vent holes in the top of the pie with the fork tines.
Place pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly brush the tops and edges with the egg wash.
Sprinkle a little sugar on the top and bake on the middle rack of your oven for 13-15 minutes until golden.
Carefully place the empanadas on rack and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before eating. Otherwise, mouth-burn city.
If any remain, cool completely before placing in a tight-sealed container. Store in the refrigerator. To reheat, place in microwave for 30 seconds.
Empanadas are best shared with friends, so go ahead and make two batches.
Or better yet, hoard them all and nibble them while you sit at your computer in your pajamas.
No…it’s probably best if you share them. Or hoard them…
What’s your fall favorite recipe?
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup cold shortening or lard, cut into pieces
- scant 3/4 cup cold water
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup sugar
- *1 small egg beaten with a teaspoon of water
- *extra sugar for sprinkling
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Whisk to combine.
- Cut in shortening or lard until the texture of sand. Stir in water until dough comes together in a ball. If the dough is too dry, stir in 1 tablespoon of water at a time until a soft (but not sticky) dough forms.
- Dump dough onto counter and knead a couple times until smooth.
- Place dough back in bowl, cover bowl with a towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add pumpkin,sugar and a pinch of cinnamon to another bowl and stir until well combined.
- Preheat oven to 425˚.
- To form empanadas, divide dough into 12 balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a 5-6″ circle and place 2 tablespoons of pumpkin mixture in the center. Do not overfill.
- Fold dough circle in half over filling and seal edges. Next, fold edges over and crimp edges with the tines of a fork. Pierce the top of the empanada with the fork tines to create small vent holes.
- Place pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with egg mixture. Sprinkle tops with sugar and bake on the center oven rack for 13-15 minutes until golden. allow to cool for 10 minutes before eating. Store in a sealed container in refrigerator.