October 14, 2012

A Vegetarian Empanada Gallega – An October Daring Baker Challenge Done In November!

I
haven’t been very regular with my Daring Baker challenges and I might have missed more than the ones I’ve done this year. But when I saw the challenge for October, I knew I was going to make it. For one thing, it did not involve a lot of sugar butter or cream as it was savoury. For another thing, it was bread which is something I love to bake.



 
Unfortunately, my new oven conked halfway through the month and it was the 2nd week of this month before the company technicians could procure the necessary spare parts and repair it. That meant that I could not meet the Daring Baker deadline.
It is said, “Better late than never” and it certainly holds as fat as this bread goes, I decided to put my newly repaired oven to the test by baking last month’s Daring Baker challenge recipe, the Empanada Gallega, set and hosted there by Patri of Asi Son Las Cosas. It also happened that a group of us Indian bakers on Facebook decided to celebrate World Bread Day with some shaped/ decorative home-made breads, and this was the perfect bread for that.



 
The Empanada is a Spanish stuffed bread that is made in many countries in Western Europe, Latin America, and South East Asian countries that were formerly Spanish colonies. It was probably brought into Spain by invading Arabs.
Empanadas are usually baked though they can be fried as well and may be filled with a variety of other fillings including vegetables, meats, cheese. They are usually made as small individual serve turnovers (bread dough folded over filling) in half-moon shapes that are crimped on one side, or like a large flat pie and then sliced. In fact the name “Empanada” drives from the Spanish word “empanar” meaning to wrap or coat in bread.
Some form or the other of this bread/ pastry is made in most cuisines across the world. Empanadas are a speciality in Spain and the Empanada Gallega is flat, pie-shaped variety from the Spanish province of Gallicia, where there are special festivals dedicated to this food.

For the Empanada Gallega, the dough is made with flour, yeast, oil, salt and paprika and a filling made with a “sofrito” which is a seasoning made of sautéed onion, green pepper, tomato, garlic that is mixed with meat or vegetables. The dough is rolled out into two circles or rectangles between which the filling is places and sealed all around. The top is decorated with leftover dough and baked. This video gives a good idea on how to shape an Empanada Gallega.



 
I used a vegetarian filling for my Empanada Gallega, naturally, of mildly spiced caramelised onions, mashed potatoes, peas and mashed paneer (an Indian milk cheese). I also had a go at decorating the top of my “pie” which didn’t turn out quite as I had visualised it, but I’m not complaining. 

 A Vegetarian Empanada Gallega
(Dough recipe adapted from Daring Baker challenge, October 2012) 

 

Ingredients:  

For the dough:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sweet paprika (if you can find it)
2 tsp active dry yeast
 Just under 1/2 cup oil
1 cup luke-warm water
 

For the filling: 

1 1/2 tbsp oil
 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed well (approx. 1 cup)
1/3 cup cooked green peas
3/4 cup crumbled paneer
1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves/ optional)
Freshly crushed black pepper/ red chilli flakes/ red chilli powder to taste
Salt to taste
 
 

Method:

First make the dough. As always, I take the easy way out and knead my dough in the food processor.  If you prefer to give your hands a real work out go ahead and do this by hand. So put all the ingredients for the dough, except the water and pulse a couple of times. Now add the water and process until you have a dough that is elastic but not sticky.
Turn the dough out onto your counter and knead a couple more times and shape it into a ball. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it so it is coated with the oil. Cover it and let it rise for about an hour.
In the meanwhile, prepare the filling. The filling needs to be cool before it can be used to stuff the Empanada.
Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. Now add the onions and sauté them over medium heat till they caramelise (turn golden). You can add any other spice powders at this point if you like. Add the potatoes, peas, paneer, kasuri methi, salt and pepper/ chilli flakes and mix well. Turn off the heat and let this filling cool.
Now back to the dough. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured working surface and deflate it by lightly kneading it.
Divide the dough into two equal portions. Lightly four your work surface and roll one portion out into a circle or rectangle, whichever you prefer. Roll it out it out thin and of uniform thickness. I rolled mine out into a circle about 13” to 14” in diameter. Place this dough circle onto a piece of parchment paper on your baking sheet.
Now put the filling (make sure it is at room temperature) on this leaving about 1" free at the edges. Pinch off a small piece of dough from the other portion for decorating the Empanada and keep aside. Roll out the other portion into another circle of the same thickness but this one should be 1” smaller at the edges than the base. Centre and place this dough circle over the filling.
 
Fold up the edges over the top dough circle and seal the edges by pressing or crimping decoratively. Use the left over dough to decorate the top of your Empanada. To make the flowers and leaves, roll out the dough thin and cut out shapes with cutters. The stems can be made by rolling dough into thin ropes. Stick on these by wetting the surface with water and then pressing them down well.
Bake the Empanada at 180C (350F) for about 35 to 45 minutes till golden brown and done. Cool on a rack for a while and then slice. You can serve this slightly warm or cold.
This recipe serves 6 to 8.
 
 

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