Empanadas are in high demand right now. In today’s post you will find the original pumpkin and pineapple empanada recipes I grew up with. The dough is rustic, but delicious. If your Mom and grandmother cooked like my Mom did, there was rarely a real recipe written down. And that being said, my Mom prepared these empanadas year after year with no written recipe to speak of. It was mostly done by memory and somehow it always worked. And because you think your Mom will be around forever, I neglected to write down details of the recipe as she prepared it. By the time I wanted to to prepare them on my own, my Mom had passed away. Lucky for me and thanks to my tia Minerva in Mexico, she helped me get a better idea on how the original family recipe was prepared. She prepared the dough recipe and I just wrote down some notes. I had some experience with other empanada dough recipes already, so I knew I could prepare this one when I arrived back in New York.
You will also find a variation of the original empanada dough recipe to start. This is just to give you an option and choose the one that you think will work best for you. I love both, but will admit when I want empanadas that remind me of home and Mom, I will go with the original recipe at the end of the blog post. Happy baking! I will bring the coffee
As soon as there is a hint of the seasons changing, I am right there thinking about these empanadas! I kid you not when I say I have frozen pumpkin filling in my freezer year round!
Revised Dough Recipe –
- 1 3/4 cups flour that have been sifted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground Mexican canela cinnamon
- 1/3 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/3 cup hot milk more or less
- *1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon, mixed together
- Prepare the filling a day or two ahead of time. Once the filling is prepared, you can prepare the dough.
- In a large bowl, add all of the dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening using your hand or a pastry cutter. Mix in the egg yolk. Gradually mix in the hot milk and gently knead until dough comes together. If it’s still too dry, add a little more hot milk.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes. When ready, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. You can either grease two baking sheets or you can line them with parchment paper. Set aside. While oven preheats, divide dough into 20 equal portions. Roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with plastic.
- Now, you have two options going forward. You can press the dough balls using a tortilla press lined with plastic. This will yield a more uniform and round shape. Or you can use a rolling pin to roll out the dough balls. Either way, you are looking for a disk about 4 inches in diameter. In my honest opinion, I found the rolling pin easier for this dough.
- Once you have your empanada disk ready, fill with 1- 1 1/2 full tablespoons of filling down the center, making sure you don’t get too close the the edges. Fold over and press gently around filling to push out any air. I like to use the pinch and fold over method for sealing, but you could also use a fork if that is easier. Transfer filled empanadas to prepared baking sheets. Bake on bottom rack for 18-20 minutes or until edges begin to brown lightly. Move up to top rack and broil just to brown the tops lightly. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. While empanadas are still warm, dredge gently through cinnamon and sugar. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Best enjoyed within a few days.
You can find that original dough recipe at the end of the blog post. I only revised it because a few people expressed to me that they had trouble working with the dough. The revised dough recipe was adapted from chef Alex Perez. He has a great You Tube channel with many traditional Mexican recipes. Check him out! You should always choose the recipe that you think works best for you.
The empanadas pictured above had extra canela, so the dough appears darker. I add extra canela to my dough recipe when I use the pumpkin filling.
The pineapple empanadas pictured above were prepared with the revised dough recipe from above. Instead of dredging them through cinnamon and sugar, I brushed them with egg wash before baking them. Egg wash is simply 1 large egg whisked together with 1-2 tablespoons of cold water.
Click onto picture above to see full recipe on how to prepare pumpkin filling from fresh pumpkin.
Preparing Pumpkin Filling Using Canned Pumpkin
1 large can pumpkin(not pie filling),about 4 cups
1 cup piloncillo or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground anise
3 tablespoon butter
Melt the butter, add the pumpkin, brown sugar(or piloncillo) and spices. Cook on low, stirring often, until it becomes really thick and darker in color. You want it to look almost like a paste. Taste for sugar and spices as it cooks down. I like to add spice to my taste, just add a tiny pinch at a time.
Empanadas de Piña ~ The Original Recipe I learned from my family to prepare all sweet empanadas, including pumpkin, pineapple and cajeta(ducle de leche). The dough is a bit more rustic and delicate to work with, but it works! It really does come together in the end. The texture is slightly different from the other recipe. It will have more of a shortbread texture in the beginning and will soften a bit once stored in an airtight container.
5-6 full cups finely chopped, fresh pineapple
1 cup granulated sugar or piloncillo, if available
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1-2 inch piece of canela cinnamon stick
- 1 cup 8 oz vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups all purpose flour sifted
- * ½ cup sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- For Dough: Combine the water, anise seeds and cinnamon stick in a small sauce pan. Heat on medium/low heat. This cinnamon and anise tea needs to steep while you mix other ingredients.
- In the stand mixer, cream the shortening for a few minutes. Mix in the sugar, salt and baking powder. Gradually mix in 3 1/2 cups( 1 pound) of the flour. Reserve the rest of the flour.
- Strain the tea, removing the solids. Gradually mix 4 ounces of the room temperature tea to the stand mixer. You want to add just enough tea until the dough comes together. If it feels dry and crumbly, add a little more liquid. Don’t over mix or the crust will be tough. It should feel moist but not stick to your fingers. Transfer to lightly floured surface and knead dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
- To Assemble: When filling is cool and dough has rested, form 24 to 28 (1½-inch) dough balls and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Take one dough ball at a time and press in tortilla press lined with plastic storage bag or wax paper. Or you could roll out the dough on a flat surface. Fill with 1½ to 2 tablespoons of filling, fold over, and using a fork, or your fingers, pinch and fold over edges together , creating a braid look that seals empanada.
- Bake: Transfer empanadas to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 to 24 minutes or until light golden brown on the edges. While the empanadas are still slightly warm, roll in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Once cooled, transfer to storage container with a tight lid. Empanadas will soften after a few hours. Yields 24 to 28 small empanadas.