Daring Bakers September 2012 / Empanada Gallaga

Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!
Specifically, we were to make Empanada Gallaga. Very reminiscent of stromboli meets casserole. I was intrigued. The dish is of Spanish origin (seems to be our theme this month). A filling of meat or fish and vegetables is surrounded in a dough that bakes up into a wonderfully crusty bread. Typically the filling holds a lot of onion, and sometimes Spanish Sofrito is used as the base of the dish. Spanish sofrito differs from Puerto Rican sofrito in that Spanish sofrito is tomato based. The filling also may or may not be similar to a fritatta. The traditional filling Patri used as an example was bacalao (or salted cod) with raisins . I’ve had bacalao in Puerto Rico and in Puerto Rican based dishes. It definitely is a unique taste. One which I loved fried in bacalaito, but which I did not care for in a curry based cold salad. None the less I was looking forward to dabbling with it anyway. Sadly my month FLEW by…. leaving me barely any time in the kitchen….when I did get a few hours, I decided my audience would much prefer a less exotic and more familiar taste… not mention I just could not find time to boil/ soak the bacalao. Sad.

I ultimately switched up the ground beef filling, using turkey instead of beef (healthier!) and red pepper instead of green (sweeter!). I wish I would have made up some Spanish sofirito, however I ended up draining can of tomatoes, and chopping my own onions……

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My favorite part of the whole process was the crust. Which I loving made completely by hand. Something about hand-kneading dough, that brings me to peace. The rhythmic movements allows me my my to wonder and ponder life. Ultimately, it’s good for my soul even especially in the midst of my crazy month.

Everything came together very smoothly. And I was left pondering a design. A heart, I decided, was what most symbolized my feelings this month. Joy, tremendous love, affection, pain, loss, and grief all have possessed my heart the last few weeks. From contently gazing my Goddaughter as she snuggled up to me, to morning the loss of Nannie – a tremendous women who adopted me has her own granddaughter and who spent hours with me in the kitchen- my heart has run the gamut. Cooking is, in itself an act of love, and so a heart seemed more then fitting.

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Empanada Gallega
-slightly adapted from the host’s challenge recipes

Equipment required:
Dough
Big bowl
Small bowl
Wooden spoon
Your hands or a stand mixer with dough hook
Rolling pin
Cookie sheet or oven tray
Pastry brush
Wax paper (optional)
Filling
Several sized bowls or plates (for the mis en place)
Pan or skillet
Wooden spoon

The Filling
200 gm (7 oz) tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
1 small red pepper’ chopped
2 garlic cloves
¾ cup (180 ml) olive oil
300 grams (2/3 pound or 10.5 ounces) minced (ground) turkey meat
1 teaspoon sweet paprika

Directions:
– Heat the oil in a skillet
– Fry the finely chopped onions, pepper and garlic until the vegetables are soft. Add then the tomatoes, chopped small, and cook until done.
– Add the meat and cook for about 5 minutes.
– Add the paprika, and stir into the filling.
-Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
– Fill the empanada en bake as indicated.

The Dough
5-1/3 cups (1280 ml) (750 gm) bread flour
2 cups (480 ml) of lukewarm water (about 85°F/30ºC), approximately
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast or (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (11 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) oil (you can use oil from the pan where you have cooked the filling)
1 large egg, for egg wash

Dough Directions:
– Measure out all the ingredients.
– Shift the flour into a big bowl and make a well in the middle. Rub the yeast in with your fingers.
In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt.
-Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, start adding the water and mixing it with the flour-yeast mixture. Keep on working with your fingers or spoon until you have added enough water and all the flour has been incorporated and you have a messy ball of dough.
-On a clean counter top, knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes
You could do all the above using a stand mixer, in that case mix the ingredients with the paddle attachment until mixed and then switch to a dough hook and knead on low for about 6 minutes.
– Clean and oil the big bowl you used for mixing and place the kneaded dough in it. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and keep it in a warm, draught-free place for approximately 40 to 50 minutes.
-Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.
-Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling pin. You can use a piece of wax paper over the counter, it will make it easier to move the dough around. Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round.

Now, the thinness of the dough will depend on your choice of filling and how much bread you like in every bite. For your first time, make it about 3mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch) and then adjust from that in the next ones you make.

Assembling the empanada
-If you haven’t used wax paper, either lightly flour or line with wax paper your pan or tray.
-Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.
-Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. Using a hot filling will make the bottom layer of the empanada become soggy. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as “dry” as possible.
-Start preheating your oven to moderate 350°F/180ºC/gas mark 4.
-Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base. You can use a piece of wax paper for this too. Take into account that this “top” dough needs to be smaller around than the bottom, as it only needs to cover the filling.
-If not using wax paper, move carefully the top to cover the filling. If using wax paper, transfer the dough, turn upside down, cover the filling and gently peel off the wax paper.
-Using your fingers, join bottom and top dough, when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half way in, that way you end up with a rope-like border.
– When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. This will help hot air exit the empanada while it’s baking without breaking the cover.
– You can use left-over dough to decorate the empanada, using rounds, bows, lines… let your imagination flow and make it pretty!
-Using a fork, prick the top layer or, using scissors, make snips that go all the way through the top layer.
– In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.
– Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done.

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I was pleasantly surprised by how well the simplistic filling paired with fresh crusty bread. It got multiple thumbs up. 🙂
Dream. Bake. Believe.
Love, Steffie

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