Daring Baker - September 2012 Challenge: Empanada Gallega

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!

Yeah, let's be spanish for a change, and it happens to be a region of Spain I've been before: Galicia! I find a certain comfort in typical southern dishes, and this one has been no exception. Anything in a bread dough works for me, and given the chance to experiement with it was a lot of fun.

I've done one with ground beef, tomatoes and carrot, aswell as a small one (with leftover dough) with red bell pepper and goat cheese. But I prefered this version with swiss chard. As the proportion were given for 10 people(!!!) I took the liberty to divide it in half, and it got me thru a couple of meals. I'm keeping this one on my list, and will have to try a sweet version at some point.

Empanada Gallega with Swiss Chard, Parmesan and Almonds

Dough Ingredients:

375gr of bread flour

240ml of lukewarm water (about 85°F/30ºC), approximately
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast or (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
1 teaspoon (10 ml) (11 gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil (you can use oil from the pan where you have cooked the filling)
1 large egg, for egg wash

Dough Directions:
  1. Measure out all the ingredients.
  2. Shift the flour into a big bowl and make a well in the middle. Rub the yeast in with your fingers.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt.
  4. 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.
  5. On a clean counter top, knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Filling Ingredients

1 Swiss Chard
2 Small Onions
1 Clove of Garlic
100gr of Parmesan, freshly grated
50gr of Almonds, chopped
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper

  1. Clean the leaves of the swiss chard, separate the white from the green. Chop the white into pieces of about 1/2 a cm thick, clean again and set aside. Same with the green leaves, chop them up about the same size and set them aside too.
  2. In a big pan, on a medium heat, warm up some olive oil. Add the onions cut into half moons and with a bit of salt, cook them for about 2 to 3 minutes before adding the white part of the chard. Stir every now and then, and cook this for about 10 minutes.
  3. You can now add the green part of the chard aswell as the crushed clove of garlic, and like spinach it will reduce greatly, keep stiring until most the water steams out of it. When everything is well combined, take it off the heat.
  4. Away from the fire, add the freshly grated parmesan, the chopped almonds and stir to combine well. Taste to check for seasoning, add salt or pepper if needed. Set aside to cool down

Assembling the empanada:

  1. If you haven’t used wax paper, either lightly flour or line with wax paper your pan or tray.
  2. Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.
  3. 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.
  4. Start preheating your oven to moderate 350°F/180ºC/gas mark 4.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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. As a picture is worth a thousand words, please watch this video to see how it is done: http://youtu.be/CNpB7HkTdDk
  8. 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.
  9. You can use left-over dough to decorate the empanada, using rounds, bows, lines… let your imagination flow and make it pretty!
  10. Using a fork, prick the top layer or, using scissors, make snips that go all the way through the top layer.
  11. 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.
  12. Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done.


The Imperfect Cookies

"Everything with passion, nothing with talent", this has been my motto for years, and I stick to it. I still can't play an F chord properly even after more than 10 years, I have to slow down when I say the word "narrower" otherwise it sounds like I'm missing out a few letters, I sing (proudly and loudly) out of key at all the concerts of my favorit artists.

So what? Life is not a perfect circle, an even square or a straight road. It's full of bumps and holes, it takes turn you don't expect, hits you in the face or hugs you, sometimes on the very same day. It breaks us down to the lowest, makes us rise again stronger.
So what? We're only humans, with our flaws and broken parts, trying to fix them and make the best out of it. And if we can't make it on our own, it's good know we have people we can count on.

This is not a perfect cookie, they're shaped in funny ways and don't look identical at all. So what? They taste like cookie should: chocolatey, crunchy and comforting. This recipe is written in my book for years, and I can't remember from where I got it, but it's my "go-to" cookie recipe in any case of emergency. And if it doesn't actually resolve any problem... So what?

American Chocolate Chips and Hazelnuts Cookies

For about 60 cookies

250gr of Butter
150gr of Sugar
120gr of Brown Sugar (Vergeoise)
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
350gr of Flour
350gr of Chocolate Chips
100gr of Hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 Teaspoon of Bicarb
1 Pinch of Salt

Take all the ingredients out an hour before starting the recipe.

Beat the butter with the sugar until it gets white and fluffy. Add both eggs and the vanilla extract. Set aside.

In the big bowl, combine the flour, the brown sugar, the bicarb and the salt. Sift in all in the egg/butter mixture and add the chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts. Using your hands, or a plastic spatula, try to combine to form a dough and place it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

On a baking tray lined with parchement paper, using 2 small spoons, place the cookie dough about the size of a walnut on it. Leave enough space in between them to spread while cooking (about 5cm).

Place in the oven and cook for about 15 to 17 minutes. Place them on a rack to cool and than keep them in an airtight jar.


Chocolate mousse, what else...

When life throws you out of your tracks, when it's taking an unexpected turn, when you feel like you're hanging on the edge of a cliff, not knowing if you're going to stay or jump, when you don't know if tomorow will be better or worse than today, if you should speak or stay quiet, when you just simply don't know, then, go back to what you do know.

Life is rarely what we expect it to be, or even more how we wish it would turn out. I guess what we make out of it, is really what makes the difference. So let's learn from every experience, and at least pretend it made us wiser.
Yes people, don't worry, this is still a food blog. Life, as cooking, is about failure and success, staying in your comfort zone or taking risks and learning as you go on.

And if life gets a bit too confusing, I know I can turn to my kitchen and my favorit ingredient: Chocolate. A really good one is needed for this recipe, because there is not much more needed. Fresh eggs, some blackberries, a bit of yogurt and a night in the fridge, that might be the hardest part, but as I read somewhere, nothing worth having is easy.

Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4

200gr of Chocoalte (between 61% and 70%)
5 Eggs
100gr of Blackberries
1 Greek Yogurt

Break the chocolate in little pieces, place them in a small sauce pan that will fit into a bigger one filled with water. On a medium heat, place both pans and wait for the chocolate to melt, after it started to melt, you can help by stirring gently. Set aside.

Separate the egg white and yolks. Beat the egg white with a pinch of salt to soft peak. While you beat the egg white, if you use a standmixer, you can whisk the egg yolks with the melted chocolate until it's well combined.
Start adding just one spoon of the egg white to the melted chocolate/egg yolk mixture to make it more airy. Than add the rest of the egg white and combine gently with a spatula.

Pour carefully the mixture in one big bowl or individual ones and place them in the fridge for at least 6 hours. To serve, top them with fresh blackberries and a spoon of yogurt.


Summer, are you still there?

It feels like summer is coming to an end, days are getting shorter, you need to wear your long sleeves in the morning and you can feel that little chill in the air once the sun is dawning. School is back in session, the pencils have been sharpened and the pupils are still full of good resolutions.
The long vacation days, where reading a book in the sun was the only thing on your schedule are long gone. It's september again, we're all back at work, back in our everyday life. Goodbye summer, as David would say "I would have gone and loved you anyway".

Let's hold on to one of the best things sunny days brings us, in my opinion at least, raspberries! Lots of jam is already stored in my pantry to get me thru (part of) the winter, I have enjoyed my fair share of fresh ones too, but making a cake needed to be done.
Something nice and fresh, to stay in that light summer feeling for just a little longer. Holding on to those last sunny days, before autumn sets in for good.

Raspberries Yogurt Cake

for 1 cake

4 eggs
150gr of Sugar
200gr of Flour
1 Greek Yogurt
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
10cl of Oil (Sunflower)
400gr of Raspberries

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

In your standmixer, beat the eggs and the sugar for about 5 minutes, until it almost doubles in volume. Add the yogurt and sift the flour and the baking powder in until everything is combined. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the oil slowly, keep mixing for a minute or two.

Butter your oven dish (in this case a 23x31cm) and pour the cake preparation in it. Now place your raspberries carefully on it, you can aligne them or try to sprinkle them evenly. Place in the oven for about 40 minutes, it should be a nice golden color.

Leave it to cool and you can serve it with a bit of greek yogurt and some honey on it.