I took a great cooking class at King Arthur this past spring and learned how to make Empanadas, little Spanish filled pastries. They were a blast to make, and fun to eat. Their little size makes them perfect for appetizers for your next party. I will try to share with you what I learned step by step. Here we go!
Part One: Empanada Pastry
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (or fresh lard), chilled and dived in half
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
Directions: Combine flour and the salt in a mixing bowl.
Take half of your chilled butter and cut into dice size cubes. Cut into the flour mixture, using a pastry blender or your fingers. For a tender result, the butter should be worked in quickly and remain the size of raisins.
Now cut in the remaining chilled butter, this time leaving larger shards, about the size of dried cranberries. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture and mix just until the dough begins to mass. You may need to add additional ice water for this to occur.
Remove the dough mass to a work surface and press into a flattened round about six inches in diameter. Can you see those big pats of butter in the dough? Those are a sign of perfectly made pastry, because those pats of butter will melt in the oven when you bake the empanadas, making the pastry tender and flaky. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes.
To roll pastry:
Remove dough from the refrigerator and place on a well-floured surface or between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Roll the dough from the center cut, taking care not to roll over the edges. Do NOT overwork your dough, you really should only re-roll one time after the initial role, or the dough will not be as tender. I usually can make 10 empandas with this recipe, so made a second batch (do not double!) if you are making these for a party.
Cut and shape as directed for empandas. I would suggest using a 3 1/2 to 4 inch circle biscuit cutter, if you can find one. You can also use a small bowl or glass and a sharp paring knife to cut them out. You now have the perfect empanada pastry, ready to be filled and baked.