Monday, October 17, 2011

For Fall...Empanadas de Calabaza

Empanadas de Calabaza - Pumpkin Turnovers

Every fall, my mom would whip these up along with Indian Bread Pudding (Capirotada).  That photo tutorial will be for another day, but for now, here is how we pulled off our version of this traditional fall treat!  I used this recipe from Mexican Food Recipes.  It was the closest one I could find to what my mom was telling me over the phone.  Just a little bit of this or a little bit of that has never helped me.  I always seem to need something of exact measurements.

You will need the following:

2 Pie Pumpkins (Betcha didn't know there is a difference in types of pumpkins!  Well, there is.  Pie pumpkins are a bit smaller than a carving pumpkin, about 6" in diameter.  You can find them in your local grocer's produce section.

For the Empanada Dough:
¾ cup vegetable shortening
3 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
1 cup water
For the Filling:
½ cup sugar
15 oz canned pumpkin
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
I halved my pumpkins, scraped out the seeds, and steamed each half in the microwave for about 15 minutes.  I did this all a few days before.  I then processed all of the pumpkin using my Sauce Master and a pumpkin screen to get a nice pumpkin puree.  I saved 15 oz. in two containers each to make a double batch.  Sometimes you have to let the pumpkin sit in a cheesecloth-lined sieve in order to get all of the excess water out.  I didn't need to do this step.  When it came time to make the empanadas, this is what my pumpkin looked like:

I added all of the spices listed above and used my hand mixer to mix up the filling:
30 oz. fresh pureed pumpkin, 1 c. sugar, 1 t. each of cinnamon and clove,
1/2 t. each of ginger and salt

I set this aside and prepared to make the dough:
2 c. water, 1/4 t. baking powder, 1 t. cinnamon, 2 packets of yeast, 2 t. salt, 1/2 c. sugar
After combining all of these in my mixing bowl, I added half of the flour and 1 1/2 c. vegetable shortening and began to mix on a medium setting.

I then added the remainder of the flour.  Another round in the mixer yielded a nice dough that started to leave the sides of the mixing bowl.

I gathered up the dough and turned it out onto a lightly, floured cutting board.  I then divided the dough into 8 equal parts.

I divided each of these into 4 equal parts yielding 32 smaller pieces.  I like to use a hard plastic scraper for cutting the dough.  Mine came with my food processor but it gets used all over the kitchen!

I placed all of the dough balls into a bowl and lightly floured the cutting board again for rolling.  I pressed each of the dough balls gently in my hands before rolling.  I then rolled each of these into a small circle as specified in the recipe.

This was probably about 5" in diameter.
Then I placed 1 1/2 T. of pumpkin filling on each of the flattened rounds.

I used Mexican Guesstimation to measure the amount!;)
I then folded the dough over sealing the edges with a fork.

All of these little yummies were baked in a 350 degree oven until golden brown and the pumpkin just started to ooze out of any broken dough.  The smell was heavenly!

My mom would whip these up in no time with no measuring and a perfect product every time.    Paul and the kids assured me they are very tasty, not too spicy, and the result is that they are completely gone!  The kids suggested we use some of our applesauce for the filling.  I think that would make a perfect little pocket apple pie!  I hope you are able to give these a whirl for some of your fall baking.

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